Who says you have to go out to a five-star hotel for a good brunch on the weekends? There are plenty of independent options for a leisurely breakfast in Abu Dhabi, and new ones continue popping up every few weeks.
Tucked into a villa in a residential area not far from the waterfront of the United Arab Emirates’ capital is a café just over one month old. It’s called “Third Place,” and its name comes from the idea that most people have three locations where they spend time: 1) home, 2) work, and 3) a place to relax, read, study, or hang out with friends. Third Place sets out to be that third place.
In keeping with its residential surroundings, the interior is like a hip living room in an urban apartment, designed with plush couches and cozy tables, a wooden bookcase room-divider displaying popular books and magazines, and chalkboards hung on the walls.
On weekends, the breakfast menu is served until 3:30 pm. Sunday through Thursday, it stops at noon. There are no paper menus as of yet – you place your order standing at the coffee bar up front based on the selections posted on the far wall’s chalkboard, and then grab a number to take to your table.
Third Place’s coffee is excellent, served piping hot, and it comes with a tiny chocolate biscuit bite. Their freshly-ground espresso is awesome and competes with the best in the city.
The ‘Arabic breakfast’ is beautifully presented and flavorful. It comes in a metal serving stand with four small bowls containing portions of labneh (spreadable white cheese), foul (fava beans cooked with cumin and onions in a tomato base), zaatar in olive oil (herbs like thyme in a dipping sauce for bread) and pan-fried halloumi (hard white Mediterranean cheese). It’s also served with two small falafel patties on a bed of romaine lettuce with tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and black olives.
If you come with a hearty appetite, you might find that the “Big Breakfast” is not all that its name implies. It’s a small plate of beef bacon, two scrambled eggs that look more like one, baked beans, two hash brown triangles and a roasted tomato, served with a side of bread and jam.
Also, the hash browns are store-bought from the freezer aisle and the beans are heated from a can rather than prepared from scratch, which a server reluctantly admitted. It is disappointing given the price tag that these aren’t made fresh.
Although Third Place is going through some growing pains, the menu and service will likely improve as the restaurant works out some of the initial kinks. For now, though, the Third Place lives up to its name – it’s in third place behind other more established cafés in Abu Dhabi.
Ultimately, it’s a unique idea for a coffee shop and an ideal space to relax in – especially with of a cup of joe.
The café’s upstairs floor is being outfitted with larger-capacity private rooms for corporate events or parties, which could be a welcome alternative to the hotel ballrooms and restaurants currently available for such activities. They’re also creating an active buzz on their Facebook page, and this spot has the potential to become a neighborhood hangout, office lunch retreat, or a quiet place to curl up with a book on a hot afternoon.
Third Place: see the menu
Address: Corniche Street (same row as Hilal Bank Khalidiyah, across from the Chevrolet showroom), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 2 681 1877
Camels Fire: (nothing spicy on menu, although Tabasco sauce is available)