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Abu Dhabi: Todd English’s Olives at Venetian Village

by Sanne
Todd English's Olives, Abu Dhabi

// I was a guest at the event at Todd English’s Olives, and I didn’t pay for food and drinks myself. //

It’s quite embarrassing to admit, but I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is just a 1-hour drive from where I live in Dubai, and I’ve been thinking about going there many times, but it just seemed too far away. Besides, I’ve been lacking reasons to go. Until the Todd English invite showed up. I guess that’s the reason I’ve been waiting for:)

So yesterday, Hanna and I were invited for a night out at Todd English’s Olives at the Venetian Village in Abu Dhabi. The event was hosted by the chef himself, who had flown in from the States together with his son Oliver.

I’m usually not a shy person, but events like this sometimes make me feel awkward. You talk too much and you’ll be that desperate weird girl. You talk too little and you’ll look like an arrogant jerk. I also can’t help wondering how flown-in celebrity chefs (just an example) feel about bloggers, and I sometimes suspect they only see us as a necessary evil.

Though if that was the case for Todd English, he hid it very well, and he seemed to be a genuinely cool guy. You know, the kind of person you wouldn’t mind sharing your meatballs with, even though you’d probably prefer him to do the cooking. His son Oliver was also really nice and made sure everybody had a good time. They actually looked more like brothers than father and son, don’t you think?

You can’t really review an event like this, but we had a lot of samples from the menu, and based on them, here’s what I would suggest you to order, if you’re heading to Todd English’s Olives in Abu Dhabi:

Lamb chops: It might be a no-brainer, but I’ve often been let down. The lamb chops at Olives Abu Dhabi were just perfect.

Pasta: The pasta is made from scratch and it’s very, very delicious. Haven’t tried anything like that down here before.

Sweet Potato Bravas: Sticky and sweet, drizzled with feta cheese to add sharpness. I first thought the sauce on the side was tahini, but it’s a soft and creamy avocado aioli.

The braised short ribs with truffle were also amazing, but I checked the online menu, and I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I’m not sure it’s part of the ordinary menu.

For those of you who wonder, the original Olives was in Boston, but it’s closed for good now, so today the most well-known Olives restaurant is probably the one at Bellagio in Las Vegas. The Olives restaurant in Las Vegas has a beautiful patio with front row views of the dancing fountains, and when Poul and I got married in Las Vegas, Olives was actually our first choice. Though we couldn’t get a table that night, so we had our wedding dinner at Michael Mina instead. Even though I’ve visited Las Vegas many times since then, I’ve never dined at Olives. It’s not that I hold a grudge (no seriously, I don’t!), but it just never happened. It was a pleasure to check out Olives in Abu Dhabi, and next time I visit Vegas, I’ll make sure to stop by the Olives restaurant at Bellagio.

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