Food

Review: Abu Dhabi’s Caramel Restaurant and Lounge

July 8, 2014

Nothing excites me more than seeing my beautiful Abu Dhabi grow along with new dining scenes popping up like mushrooms. I was invited by the Caramel group to try their restaurant and review their menu. Having tried the Dubai branch some 2 years ago and enjoying the experience, it made sense to try the one in my hometown.

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We were welcomed by a well knowledged waiter who did a great job of explaining the components of some dishes. A rare oddity, because many restaurants in Abu Dhabi don’t train their staff beyond serving food!

There were so many things on the menu I wanted to try, but had to contain myself from being a hog. We started off with a few appetisers, with a strong recommendation to try Caramel’s version of TNT shrimps. Whilst this dish normally doesn’t fail anywhere you have it, this version is by far very pleasing to the taste buds. The crackling of the batter as you bite through those juicy humongous shrimps lets you want to enjoy this with your eyes closed. The spicy tangy mayo sauce and nigella seed sprinkles bind the whole dish to perfection.

Spicy Rock Shrimp

Spicy TNT Shrimp

Moving on, we sampled some wafer thin sliced Sirloins soaked in what looks like a soy and yuzu sauce with a DIY twist. The carpaccio’d beef cuts are served along side a slab of rectangular hot rock so you can quickly flash sear your meat. Although perfect even without this addition and can be enjoyed raw, the live experience gives it an exciting wow factor as the sizzling meat made music to my ears.

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Sirloin Carpaccio with Micro leaves

Chinese Chicken Salad with clementines, Cashews and Honey Mustard

Chinese Chicken Salad with clementines, Cashews and Honey Mustard

I wasn’t going to order this dish because I felt that we got too much. On second thought, I’m glad I changed my mind and went for it anyway as it was one of the best salads I’ve had by far. It was cold, crunchy, with pulpy celementine segments that screamed of freshness. The salad was geniusly dressed with an earthy sesame paste that gave those sprouts a much needed oomph. This may sound weird, but we also dug into this between every dish as a palette cleanser. Just Beautiful.

Brie filled Tatter Tots

Brie filled Tatter Tots

Beef tenderloin with puy lentils and pesto sauce

Beef tenderloin with puy lentils and pesto sauce

Pictured above was my sister’s main dish, to which I of course stole a few bites from. The beef was cooked to medium perfection and that’s how I urge everyone to try beef anyway. Normally in our part of the world, Arabs tend to like their meat well done before the rise of western dining. Even I was one of them once upon a time, untill I was forced by an Italian chef whom I took classes with to try beef medium (if not rare). I never looked back. There is a juicy softness to the bite when it’s pink in the middle and if you compare it to well done, you will notice having to chew many more times and that’s kind of annoying. Nobody wants a jaw workout while enjoying steak.

Anyhooo, back to the dish itself, the lentils were a tad salty and I suspect this is because legumes quickly absorb the lightest sprinkle of sodium. Less is more, but if you’re the kind to add extra salt in your food at the dinner table, this one is for you. I enjoyed the combination of beef and lentils as opposed to the cliche mashed potatoes that appears on most menus everywhere. Those tatter tots were ordered out of sheer greed and got lost amidst the selection of what was on our table. I’m sure I would have made them justice had there been less.

Seared Chiliean Sea bass on a bed of Risotto, Lobster broth and Tomato Basil Tapenade

Seared Chiliean Sea bass on a bed of Risotto, Lobster broth and Tomato Basil Tapenade

I was told their Chilean seabass was a best seller, therefore I had to try it. Apart from the dish being a beauty to look at, the Seabass was amazingly seared with a golden crunchy crust, and flaked so delicately to the separation of my fork. I’m very particular about how I prefer my Rissoto, and it’s usually when it’s not cooked with cream. The Caramel version is made with cream however, and I found its heaviness masking the delicate flavour of the fish. Having given my opinion to Mr. Rick Green (their amazing restaurant manager) about this, it was interesting to know this is how the locals love their Risotto. Something I’m not very surprised about because it’s actually true. The more the cream, the delicious it is to them apparently.

I also came to learn from their findings that locals love their creme brulee at room temperature, therefore Caramel caters to an adapted palette for some of their dishes out of courtesy. So Kudos to that, I guess i’ll call in a day ahead for them to chill my brulee when I go again.

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

Maybe I should say that it is Ramadan and I’m fasting as I type this post away, but doesn’t this picture make you want to dive in?? I haven’t had many baked Alaska’s in my life and this was certainly a memorable one. Apart from feeling like I would have wanted a thicker slice of cake to counteract the gooey’ness of those generous chewy meringue peaks, this dessert is a great ending to our Caramel experience.

All in all, I recommend trying Caramel if you’re excited about new, upscale foodie spots to try out in Abu Dhabi. Our meals were complimentary and my views are in no way biased due to this as I aim to give my constructive feedback to both the public and restaurant. I thank the Caramel for their hospitality and openness to write this with an honest voice.

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>Caramel normally opens for dinner with an exception of Saturday lunch for the residents of

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