We tried out the Rouge restaurant at the Rocco Forte for three principal reason - 1, we always like to try something different, 2, it is quite near where we live, and 3, it had come recommended by some friends.
We turned up on a Thursday night without having made a reservation. The first thing is that the Rocco Forte Hotel is located is a rather strange location, well away from the main part of town. The hotel itself is a nice piece of modern architecture, with a sculptured glass front with the now almost obligatory coloured LED lights adorning the outside. Finding the restaurant is strange too. You are directed to some lifts on one side of the hotel, then as you come out you walk away from the lifts trying to find where it is. There must be some signs, but we didn't see them. It turns out that the rather understated doorway is right by the lifts.
The restaurant occupies the entire eastern end of the first floor, with the centre being part of the atrium that looks down on another restaurant below. The roof is a load of floors up, so the general impression is one of space, and as the walls are glass you have a good view of the outside, not that there is anything worth looking at!
The tables are ranged around the outside, and a lot of the table have little hoods that proved lighting furnished by red LED's; not to everyone's taste perhaps. One other minor gripe was that the air conditioning vents blew quite a strong current of air, which after a while became uncomfortable.
Despite being a Thursday, there were maybe three or four other occupied tables, only a small proportion of the total number; we put this down to its location not being a good selling point.
The service was a little slow, as there were not many staff for what is quite a big restaurant. However, they were courteous. A small Japanese style complimentary dish was given to us while we perused the menu.
We went there for the Japanese food, and we ordered a selection. It arrived in a timely manner, and we were very impressed by the presentation. We have tried sushi and sashimi in a number or restaurants around the world by this was the best presentation by far. For example, the salmon and tuna sashimi arrived prepared in the form of a rose, with the different coloured slices of sushi forming the petals. However we are pleased to report that the sashimi itself matched the quality of the presentation; the slices were razor thin, and the quality of the fish used was excellent, in terms of both taste and texture.
The rest of of the dishes ordered were equally good, and we also went for a Chinese dish in the form of the Beijing Duck. That too was excellent.
My wife commented to the staff on the quality of the presentation, and very soon after the Chef, Shella, came out to ask us how everything was. She was very attentive, and keen that we gave her our opinions of her preparation and quality of the food. She also invited us to taste a dish that she developed and wanted to put on the menu. The dish was salmon rolls dressed with crab meat, and like all the other dishes was great. Hopefully she will indeed include it.
To sum up, for us this is an excellent Japanese restaurant that we would heartily recommend. It is out of the way, but we believe it merits the effort to get to for the quality of the food. The only shame is that many will probably deem it too far away from the centre of Abu Dhabi to try it. If they do, they won't regret it.