Abu Dhabi has a plethora of world-class restaurants, offering practically any cuisine one could desire.
American food may not traditionally stir up thoughts of fine dining but Caramel, on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, will challenge your perceptions of what American-inspired dining can offer.
Set in a moody but welcoming lounge-style restaurant, the restaurant will welcome you in whilst the food will have you coming back for more.
Here, traditional favourites are served with a flavourful twist. Mac and cheese (with truffle oil and three cheese dipping sauce – you didn’t think this would be your standard mac and cheese did you?) and kobe BBQ beef sliders can be found on the menu, sitting alongside ingredients and inspiration taken from the UK and Asia as well. At Caramel, the focus is less on one particular cuisine and more on delivering meals of the highest standard – the benefit of this is that everyone will find something they’ll enjoy eating.
After much debate, Nathan decided on the marinated kobe beef tacos whilst I ordered Caramel’s signature ‘buffalo style’ chicken lollipops.
The kobe beef tacos were fresh and tasty, served with aubergine ra and stuffed with Wagyu beef – Nathan devoured them in no time (a sure sign of their quality). Straight away, we knew we were onto a good thing!
Together we worked through my serve of chicken lollipops. Neither of us had tried this style of chicken before but we’re both absolutely converted. In essence, they were buffalo wings, but thanks to the chef’s handy knife work, all of the hassle of eating chicken wings was removed. We were left with tasty morsels of chicken, with crispy skin and a tasty, spicy buffalo sauce, that were easy to cut apart. Served with a mild blue cheese sauce which was appreciated to help put out the fire (though they were the perfect level of spice).
Next up were the mains and upon our servers recommendation we leapt at the chance to try two of the most popular dished on the menu – steak and frittes along with the seared Chilean sea bass. We found out first-hand that they’re popular for a reason!
Fries. Fries served with parmesan and garlic. Seriously, this is absolutely the best way to eat fries, so I found out. Everything about my main was spot on – from the delicious pommes frites to the beautifully cooked medium-rare tenderloin and accompanying steak and peppercorn sauces. On the surface, the meal was relatively simple but all of the flavours shone through, creating a main that we both seriously enjoyed.
Nathan’s a real lover of seafood (me, not so much) and he was very pleased with his choice to order the seared sea bass. The fish itself was served on a bed of rock shrimp risotto and lobster broth, topped with tomato, basil tapenade. It was literally the best risotto he’s ever eaten and an option he highly recommends for seafood lovers.
Dessert was a real toss-up with four options catching our eye. The choice between a butterscotch bomb, baked Alaska, dark chocolate fondant and vanilla bean creme brûlée wasn’t easy but in the end we decided on the later two. Thought I don’t doubt that all of the desserts would have been amazing, I can vouch for how special the two we had were.
My chocolate fondant was cooked to perfection – rich cake on the outside with a gooey centre that somehow avoided being too sweet. Normally served with cappuccino ice-cream, I requested vanilla bean instead and found it to offset the dark chocolate fondant beautifully.
Nathan’s creme brûlée (made with fresh cream, vanilla beans and caramelised bananas) was amongst the smoothest creme brûlées we’ve ever had and a real highlight.
Our Thoughts on Caramel, Abu Dhabi
Though Caramel isn’t exactly priced at the budget end of the spectrum, the servings are very generous, the food delicious, the setting very special and the staff professional. It would make a perfect choice for a date night, special occasion or evening when you just want to treat yourself.
What a treat it was for us!
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Thank you to Caramel for inviting us along to review them. As always, all thoughts are our own.