Chamas Churrascaria & Bar - Intercontinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi
When you have a concept that, 8 years after being introduced, remains unrivalled, you are sitting pretty as a restaurant. There is simply no other restaurant like Chamas in Abu Dhabi. And this accounts for its popularity I would imagine. I had the pleasure of trying it recently, and from that experience, 3 key points emerged for me.
There are 16 different cuts of meat available. Red and green coasters are given to guests. Green means you are ready for more, red means you are not. Staff with skewers rove around the restaurant, slicing meat right at your table. However, I can see at even busier times (the restaurant was 80% full this night) it might be hard for staff always to see the coasters, so a raised flag on the table might work better?
Staff coming to your table to cut meat for you makes for a very interactive and engaging dining experience. By the end of the night, I knew the names of so many waiters - and isn't that one of the things we enjoy about dining out? It is about a connection between the guest and staff. That is why people return to a restaurant. Ingredients are the same in many restaurants, but staff are unique!
2. The Meat
While Chamas offers a great selection of salads and Arabic mezze items, one comes here for the meat. American Angus and Australian Wagyu form the backbone, no pun intended, of the meat that is put out. All the cuts people usually enjoy were served, from the tenderloin to ribeye to rump to my personal favourite, the sirloin. Another I enjoyed for its tenderness was the beef ribs, slow cooked for 5 hours. For a break from the beef though, I also tried the duck and Australian lamb. Surprisingly, there was no Argentinian beef, which I thought would have fitted really nicely into the South American theme of Chamas.
In addition to the usual sauces that you would want to have with your meat, I was excited by their extensive mustard selection.
A generous by the glass wine option complements the restaurant perfectly, although there is also an option of unlimited housewines for a surcharge. Overall, I really liked the accessibility of the wines, with something for everyone in terms of price.
This was an integral part of the experience at Chamas - Los Hidalgos, whom I had the pleasure of seeing a few months ago, are the resident band and they really set the tone for the evening. The Cuban trio, dressed in sumptuous evening wear, seemed to fit perfectly into the Chamas concept, belting out memorable tunes.
It is a totally different experience to be in a restaurant that is not a buffet and is near capacity. The energy is tangible. This is what you will experience at Chamas. As far as pricing goes, starting at 285AED++, on the surface it might seem expensive, but when you consider that prime meat is on offer throughout your dining experience, it is tremendous value for money.
Chamas is the kind of restaurant where the whole becomes more important than the individual parts. What do I mean? Go for the meat, and you will be satisfied. Visit for the entertainment, and you will be pleased. Go for a night of great meat and wine, and I am sure you be happy. However, Chamas offers all of these.