My unremitting blogging about Saadiyat Island may lead some to wonder “Why Don’t You Get A Room Already” out there? I really should, I know–I love the place. Saadiyat Island is already home to a museum, beaches, wildlife and great restaurants and will soon to be home to the Guggenheim and the Louvre. I would say it’s almost urban (being only about 5 minutes away from the heart of the city), but it also feels like a SoCal beach town on a sleepy Sunday morning. In short, it’s perfect. So, why don’t I live here? Well, I cannot afford it—it’s pricey. It’s far from everything in our life and, honestly, I LOVE Al Raha Beach. So, this girl will have to be content visiting, which is what I did the other night. I teased this yummy night out here a week or so ago in veni, vidi, vici locustam marina.
Wednesday, wine night!
It was a Wednesday night, so the wine bottle was out. We both had to work early the next day. Nevertheless, one glass can’t hurt, right? Caramel’s wine selection is representative of every major wine-producing region. It was hard to select just the right glass, so we went with our waiter’s recommendations. He knew a lot about wine, and his choices did not disappoint us. The menu at Caramel is inspired. It was so hard to choose a starter. We were looking for something different, unlike dishes we usually order, so we went with Crispy Eggplant and TNT Shrimp and scallops. We also ordered our mains because, again, it was Wednesday—not exactly a big night out. My husband ordered the pan-seared lamb loin (southern hemisphere thing), and I went with the 1.5 Kg Maine Lobster (western hemisphere thing) and OMG! What a lobster it was! Enough about the lobster though, let’s talk about the starters. Was it fair to call these lavish indulgences “starters”? The Eggplant was crispy and succulent with the yummiest hoisin sauce. The TNT shrimp and scallops were firm and flavorful with a piquant topping that could be described as something like Srichaha meets sweet chili and then meets creamy and makes perfection. I don’t know exactly what the sauce was, but it was good, and we were both full after polishing those off. Thankfully, the wait staff gave us a bit of time to digest before they brought out our mains.
TNT Shrimp & Scallops
There wasn’t rest time enough in the world to be ready for the enormous delicacy that was set before me about 30 minutes after the starters. Behold, my dining challenge. Say “Hello” (and goodbye) to my little friend! What presentation! It was elegant and enormous. I wanted to take its picture more than I wanted to eat it, because I was still so full.
My marine foe–All 1.5Kg of it.
Pan-seared Lamb Loin
I took a few photos of my feast, while my husband dug into his gorgeous lamb loin. I am not a fan of lamb, but it did look great. So you know, I am not usually one to take food photos. Not only is the practice bad restaurant etiquette, but it is disruptive to your night out–seems narcissistic and self involved (imo). Nevertheless, that night I made an exception. There were few other diners, and those that were there were very cordial as was the management, so I snapped away. I finally took a deep breath and dug into my titanic Maine lobster, and, well I ate the whole thing—all 1.5kg worth of it; it was heavenly. I had not had a Maine lobster in a long time—as in a long–before-we-moved-to-Abu-Dhabi kind of long time. I don’t usually pig out like that but the freshness, preparation and presentation offered the “perfect meal trifecta,” and it just happened. I could see the wait staff was pleased—they didn’t think I could do it, and I did it. I really do like to surprise people.
I was lobster-deprived; it was a fact. Surranga, the manager, made certain that we left Caramel sated and having had a full appreciation of the menu. He would not allow us to leave without sampling the dessert, and sample we did (despite being ready to burst at our seams). I tried the Crème brûlée meets bananas Foster because why not? It was rich and divine; I took two bites and that was that. Let’s call it a wrap. You can now officially roll me out the door. Please stop me now from eating another bite at Caramel! I am pleading with you. We settled up. Surranga kindly offered to give us a brief tour, and we obliged happily. A DJ was just about to spin, and the night was only beginning for all the night owls spilling in from wherever they came, but we early birds had to mosey along, stuffed and happy. Someday I may be fortunate enough to get a room already on Saadiyat but, until then I can visit and dine there. Caramel is a restaurant that truly knows its stuff. The food and wine menu is as diverse and inspired as the ambience and staff were flawless. I will happily return to Caramel Abu Dhabi the next time I feel the need to visit a happening restaurant that somehow manages to integrate the aura of home: a place that will not let you leave feeling unappreciated, unacknowledged or hungry. Give Caramel a try; I doubt you will be disappointed. Follow Caramel on twitter, instagram and Facebook.