Shams de la creme: An Evening 'brunch' on Saadiyat Island - Caramel Restaurant & Lounge, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi

Brunch. We all know it is a Friday institution in Abu Dhabi. It usually runs from 12-4pm or give and take away an hour. In recent times Saturdays have also become brunch days. Then, about a year ago, one restaurant launched a Thursday night brunch and more disturbingly, I came across a restaurant/bar that has  a daily evening brunch. Where does it end? So, when I was invited to try the Thursday evening 'brunch', the Shams de la creme,  at Caramel Restaurant & lounge, I was needless to say, skeptical. 

But as I walked in, it dawned on me that this was an evening venue, so if anyone was entitled to have an evening 'brunch', it was surely them or any other venue that opens at night. After all, brunch in the city is nothing more than endless dishes and free flowing bubbly.

 Reasons to be excited about this 'brunch'

1. Less is more

There are 8 tapas to choose from. Find one that you like and keep having it, or go for all 8 and then return to your favourite. The tapas are both reflective of Caramel's eclectic menu and  a selection of dishes that should ensure that you do not need to go for fast food after the evening is over. It has happened to me on a few occasions when I needed to eat something after leaving a similarly conceived evening. However, the menu has   good variety and balance to ensure this does not happen. 

 The Roasted sweet potato salad was so good we ordered a second. Not only was it fresh, it used an ingredient we do not see often as a salad at a brunch or even a 'brunch'. It os textured and balanced - pumpkin seeds, lemon balsamic and feta tell half the story. 

The Signature chicken lollipops surprised me - despite the fancy blue cheese marination, it had a homely 'take-out' quality about them. Bite into them - you will see what I mean. 

For those with a big appetite, the Lamb sliders will prove popular. Lamb sliders - how often have you seen these on a menu? Because Chef has gone with beef in his Marinated beef tacos, it made use to use lamb here. Smart. 

Improvements? I think a few more vegetarian options will not be out of place. I would go so far as to create a vegetarian menu and have it as an option. That would be a nice touch. 

2. Music and vibe

Definitely a strength. In DJ Keith Dobbs Caramel has someone who reads the crowd expertly. Sensing the crowd was possibly a bit more mature than he has had in previous evenings, he played quite a bit of old school from Ja Rule to Puff Daddy. Keith has an everyman quality about him which makes it easy to relate to him, unlike some djs I have met who are sooo intimidating. Nice is always better. Seeing people dance makes this concept at Caramel unique. 


At 199AED including Prosecco, two reds and 2 whites, this is a  tremendous deal. Add to this some Caramel cocktails and it is no surprise that the last two Thursdays have been sold out. If you wish to upgrade to French bubbly, the GH Mumm package is also generously priced at 399AED, and bear in mind it is only +10%. And do not forget of course the menu created by Chef Josh Abhineni. On a side note, it is encouraging for the industry to see that the evening brunch is not on a two for one deal. 

Overall, this is one of three concepts that have really excited me this year. Because it is an evening venue, their Thursday and Friday evening brunch' is honest and not simply riding the coat tails of the brunch concept that sucks people in. The venue is classy and sophisticated without being daunting, but please dress smartly casual - such is the crowd here. While more and more restaurants launch these Evening brunches, this is most likely to be the one I recommend when prompted. 


Caramel Restaurant & Lounge
The Collection at St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
Saadiyat Island
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 6783344

Hours of Operation

Saturday – Wednesday: 6:00 pm – 2:00 am
Thursday and Friday: 6:00 pm – 3:00 am
Disclaimer: I was invited to Caramel Restaurant & Lounge courtesy of the restaurant.
Brandon Stoltenkamp