Caramel Restaurant & Lounge - The Collection within The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi
From the name, Caramel Restaurant & Lounge, I had high expectations. Caramel has embraced a growing trend which offers diners a more all round evening out that encapsulates a dining, lounging and bar experience. Still very much a Dubai concept, it is catching on though. After a recent visit, two talking points emerged.
It feels like a genuine night out with the location on Saadiyat Island, as part of the St Regis Collection, a stand-alone development adjacent to the iconic St Regis Resort. Inside The Collection, it is found opposite Abu Dhabi's top nightclub, People by Crystal, ensuring a great synergy and flow of people between these two venues. It is the ideal venue to grab a bite before indulging in an evening of dancing and hanging out at one of the trendiest spots in the city. The restaurant is lowly lit, making for an evening of cool ambience.
The menu is focussed, with an emphasis on fewer dishes. Simple and easy. The first part of the menu is made for sharing, something I do recommend. My guest and I ordered three dishes -with two of those recommended by the restaurant manager. We started off with something that intrigued from a first reading of the menu: Kale & Quinoa Salad. Everyone loves these two ingredients right now and this turned out to be my second favourite on the night. It is light and fresh with a lot of flavour and texture to be found in the accompanying almond flakes, Kenya beans, grapes, and raisins. Nice as the butter milk dressing is, I feel something citric was missing and when I added some fresh lemon, it became the perfect salad. Also, the lemon balanced the sweetness from the grapes and raisins.
We also tried the Tuna pizza - forget what pops into your mind. This is nothing like the pizza you know. The crust was a very thin pastry, not doughy at all, topped with raw tuna, almost carpaccio-like and a dash of truffle oil - a must try dish. It too was nice and light,a perfect starter.
We also tried the TNT Shrimp, which despite its name, is not as explosive in spiciness as one might have thought. Nice and crispy and crispy. It also has a very cool presentation, by the way, in a martini glass.
Finally, for our main course, we share the Seared Chilean Sea Bass. The portion is huge, and is more than enough for the two of us. The Sea bass is absolutely gorgeous, moist and yet full of structure. It is sat on a bed of rock Shrimp Risotto, itself bathed in a lobster broth. This is a dish that would make it on to a table at any of the restaurants where I have had a fine piece of Chilean Sea bass. My dish of the night. It reminded me how restaurants with these concepts offer the best of both worlds, with excellent starters to share, and if you are a little hungrier, the option of a full-on dish.
For dessert, we move to the lounge where I enjoy a glass of well priced Cognac. The lounge is super welcoming, and while you can certainly order your dishes from the menu and have them here, I much prefer using the lounge a s chilling zone, post dinner. It works really well.
I arrived at Caramel Restaurant & Lounge thinking it would be another venue that trades on what is a very successful concept in Dubai. However, I left with a feeling that more people need to know about this venue in its own right. It is certainly not the only restaurant/bar/lounge in the city, but what is unique about it is that it offers a balance between a bar, restaurant and a lounge. I think it does all three elements really well, as opposed to many venues where they excel in dining and offer a lounge that is incidental or vice versa. My only regret is that I did not try it on the night when they have their Champagne ladies' night or even Men's night, when their resident DJ spinning tunes.
I am invited to many restaurants around the city, but I do not return to all of them because of time. Caramel Restaurant & Lounge is one venue that I would, time constraints aside, love to visit again.
Caramel Restaurant & Lounge
St Regis Saadiyat Resort,
+971 2 6783344