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Caramel – American restaurant and lounge

Delicious mini roasted potatoes!

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
OFFICIAL FACEBOOK

Where in Abu Dhabi:
The Collection
at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
Tel: 02.678.3344

We really like to go to The Collection, next to the St Regis Hotel on Saadiyat Island, as there are so many lovely restaurants and cafes there, and the whole place has this kind of ‘piazza’ feeling, almost like being in a vibrant Italian square.

Our latest discovery there is Caramel, which is both a restaurant and a lounge. They serve American food, so yes, think burgers and Mac N’ Cheese – BUT all revisited with a fine dining approach, which makes for a really unique foodie experience – different from anything we had tried before in Abu Dhabi.

We actually went there twice, first on an evening out and then again for lunch, and both times we just loved the place.

In the evening the lounge area has a very elegant and stylish vibe, and during the day the restaurant feels very relaxed, thanks to the mellow light filtering through the curtains. They also have an outdoor terrace, but we decided to eat inside.

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Having drinks in the lounge…

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…and a relaxed lunch in the restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a starter, I ordered Mac and Cheese, whilst W ordered the ‘Signature Chicken Lollipops’ with blue cheese sauce.

I thought I knew what Mac and Cheese looks like, so when four stylish breaded sticks arrived at our table, I had to make a fool of myself and double-check with the server that my order was right.

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Mac and cheese!!

Well, it was right! They were Mac and Cheese, just a thousand times more elegant – and delicious, as every crunchy bite opened up a heart of mouth-watering gooey-ness.
From now on, I know I will be sorely disappointed whenever ordering Mac and Cheese elsewhere.

(I also realise I should probably have taken a photo of the melted centre, but they were just too nice and vanished before I could think of it!)

W also loved his chicken, especially dipped in the blue cheese sauce, even though I have to sadly report that I ate all of his carrots.

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Signature chicken lollipops

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Tater Tots with brie cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The portions are really generous at this restaurant, but we realised it too late.
We had decided to order a side to share, specifically the Tater Tots with brie cheese, but our really friendly server convinced us that we had to try the Roasted Mini Bakers, so we ended up ordering both.

The Tater Tots were once again a triumph of yummy gooey-tude, but the real surprise was in the Roasted Mini Bakers.

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Roasted Mini Bakers… aka mini Jacket Potatoes.

They were basically mini Jacket Potatoes (how they call them in the UK), served with not one, but four fillings: creme fraiche, chopped spring onion, aged cheddar cheese and veal bacon.
I don’t think I need to say again how delicious they were! We almost regretted ordering mains, after that, as they were really yummy and filling.

As a main, I ordered Truffled Penne Pasta, and W ordered Kobe Beef Sliders. Once again, everything was just perfect: the pasta was ‘al dente’ and the sauce creamy and mouth-watering, and W said that the mini-burgers were perfectly cooked and covered in yummy cheddar.

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Truffled Penne Pasta

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Kobe Beef Sliders

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Brownie with ice cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were absolutely stuffed after all this, but we decided to skip dinner and share a dessert: we were suggested the Brownie, which they say is among their best-sellers. And we quickly learned why!
Served warm, and covered in lovely ice cream, we quickly scooped it up without regrets.

Aside from the really delicious (and surprising!) food, we must point out how the super-friendly staff, everyone – from the servers to the manager, went the extra mile to make us feel welcome and well looked after, which is always something we really appreciate.

After these two visits, Caramel has quickly become top on our favourites list. From the lovely relaxed atmosphere during the day to the funky and vibrant one in the evenings, we can see ourselves spending a lot of great times there, and we can’t wait to go back with our friends to show off this ‘gem’ we have found!

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Yummy take away: Telepizza

  • What did we order?

– Tandoori chicken pizza
– Margherita pizza
– Garlic mozzarella bread
– Potato wedges
– Two cans of soft drinks

  • How much did it cost?  100 AED

  • Where did we order from?

Telepizza – Al Raha Gardens Plaza, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi
Telephone number: 02 5577002

  • What did it look like? (click on images to enlarge)
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Tandoori chicken pizza

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Margherita pizza

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Telepizza box

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potato wedges

Garlic mozzarella bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Why did we like it?

– Very friendly staff on the phone, easy to order and quick service.
– Super tasty pizza, just the right level of crunchy crust and full-of-flavour toppings.
– Very reasonably priced and lots of choices on the menu.

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Yummy Take Away: Automatic

  • What did we order?

– Meat Shawarma Plate with Hommous
– Lentil soup
– Fried Halloumi Cheese
– Grilled Halloumi Cheese
– Falafel Plate
– Cheese pastries
– Hommous
– French Fries
– Yoghurt with Cucumber

  • How much did it cost?  131 AED

  • Where did we order from?

Automatic restaurant – inside Al Mariah Mall – Tel: 02 676 9677
(But we actually ordered through FoodOnClick)

  • What did it look like? (click on images to enlarge)
grilled halloumi

Grilled Halloumi

shawarma

Shawarma

lentil soup

Lentil soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

falafel platter

Falafel plate

cheese pastries

Cheese pastries

fried halloumi

Fried Halloumi

 

 

 

 

 

 

hummous

Hummous

french fries

French fries

yoghurt and cucumber

Yoghurt with cucumber

 

 

 

 

 

 

vegetable platter

Salad platter

flat bread

Flat bread (spoon for scale)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Why did we like it?

– The food was really tasty and the portions were more than generous!
– Everything came with a lot of complimentary flat bread, a massive plate of veggies, more side veggies (not pictured) and two yummy dips.
– Ordering was easy, delivery was quick and staff friendly!

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Fanr Restaurant (+ yoga classes)

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Delicious watermelon and feta salad.

Where in Abu Dhabi:
Manarat Al Saadiyat,
Saadiyat Cultural District
Saadiyat Island
Tel: +9712 657 5888

Opening times: Sun-Wed 10AM-11PM; Thur-Sat 10AM to midnight.

I remember it clearly: it was our very first weekend in Abu Dhabi and we wanted to ‘see a museum’ (sic). We decided to visit Saadiyat Island, the future location of the Louvre, Zayed Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, where friends told us there was already a great museum open. “And don’t forget to try the restaurant,” they added.

After arriving at Manarat Al Saadiyat and having enjoyed the interesting exhibition (I particularly love the room made of chairs!) we followed our friends’ advice and tried the in-house restaurant.

Fanr has an airy and spacious setting, with both indoors and outdoors seating, and a very contemporary feel, with floor-to-ceiling windows and several art pieces around – of course.

Restaurants inside museums more often resemble university canteens, as they are busy and somehow push you to eat quickly and move along. Fanr is different, because it makes you feel very relaxed and at ease, with no need to hurry up. It is also quite stylish, even though most of the people in it wear casual clothes and big cameras around their neck.

Since that very first time, we have been back many, many times, enjoying both the a/c in the glass-cladded restaurant and the breeze and sound of the water in the Arabic-inspired courtyard.

Fanr interiors.

Glass windows and art sculptures.

The lovely courtyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did not take photos every single time we went, but my absolute favourite on the menu is the watermelon and feta salad. I can’t even begin to explain how much these two things are delicious together – and I had never thought about it before!
Here W tried his first camel burger (“It kind-of tastes like beef,” he says) and here we brought family and friends when they came to visit. We really like it!

Camel burger!

Smoothies: lemon and mint and banana and blueberry. So yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adding one more reason to visit, they now have weekly Yoga classes (they started them last month).

Every Wednesday the association Yoga Retreats offers two one-hour classes (at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM), held in the restaurant grounds.
Costs are: 80 AED per session or 700 AED for a series of ten. (To book: Yoga Retreats website).

All the participants in the classes also receive a 20% discount to use at Fanr.

Fanr is really a delightful place. It might be slightly off the beaten track, but its relaxing atmosphere, absolutely delicious food and attentive staff certainly puts it up there, among our favourite eateries in the city.

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Click HERE to read more about RESTAURANTS WE LIKE or HERE to read about SPORTS.
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2 for 1 voucher for Burgerfuel (valid until 24/3)

(Photo: © Burgerfuel)

I have already written about Burgerfuel and how much we like it, but apparently they created a new chicken burger called Nacho Libre. Alas! I can’t try it (I am a veggie), but for all the meat-eaters out there, here is the LINK to a voucher that will get you a free Nacho Libre burger when you purchase one. (Small prints: The promotion expires on the 24/3)

The two Burgerfuel branches in Abu Dhabi that we have found so far are:
Dalma Mall – Ground Floor, near Green Parking 2 and E-Max electronic shop –
Tel: (02) 550 6385
Galleria Mall – South Cafe Terrace, on Al Maryah Island –
Tel: (02) 673 8779

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Hickory’s Sports Bar and Restaurant

Scrummy chocolate dessert.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Where in Abu Dhabi:
Yas Links Golf Course
Yas Island
Tel: 02 810 7777

As I wrote in a previous post, W and I took up golf for the very first time here in Abu Dhabi.
This is why we tried Hickory’s at the beginning, but the lovely food and drinks are the reason why we keep going back!

Located inside the Yas Links golf course, this sports bar has several big screens around the venue. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, and the clientèle seems to be a healthy mix of seasoned golfers and people just coming for the food and a couple of drinks.

We have been there several times, both on our own and with family and friends, and we really like it. The menu has plenty of choices, from burgers and salads to pasta and seafood, and they also have a lot of weekly promotions, such as ‘Monday English roast night’ or ‘Thursday curry night’.

I didn’t take photos every single time we went, but I should have, because the dishes always look so good! Below are some random snaps:

Rocket with char grilled vegetables, buffalo mozzarella and pesto drizzle.

Sun and Sands pizza (Margherita).

Five leafs salad with balsamic infused pears, garlic boursin cheese and oregano crisp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taco shell bowl with beef chilli.

Tex Mex tasting plate.

I love this drink! I always order it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of our favourite spots in Abu Dhabi: the food is always really yummy, there is a good selection of drinks and a full bar, and staff are always very helpful and attentive.

And I must say, eating there makes me almost forget how bad I actually am at golfing!!

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Café Blanc – Lebanese restaurant

Halloumi sticks and Rakakat jibneh.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
OFFICIAL FACEBOOK

Where in Abu Dhabi:
Eastern Mangroves promenade
Tel: 02 677 9881

This restaurant is inspired by the name of a Lebanese drink, the ‘café blanc‘, and serves traditional Lebanese cuisine with a contemporary and more modern twist.
With several outlets around the world, from Egypt to – of course – Lebanon, we were very excited to find out that they just opened in Abu Dhabi.

We tried this brand new restaurant on a lovely mellow evening, and just by walking on the Eastern Mangrove promenade we felt really relaxed: there is something so calming in being near the water!
The restaurant welcomed us with its very colourful and yet very sleek interior with Mediterranean-inspired décor, making for a very joyful atmosphere.
They had tables both inside and outside on the terrace, for those who want to smoke shisha.

Lovely décor!

Mint lemonade and raspberry tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As drinks, I ordered an iced tea, raspberry flavoured, and W ordered a frozen mint and lemonade. They arrived at our table with a choice of nuts and they were both really fresh and tasty.

W then ordered a Shawarma Djej (meat, grilled onion and tomato, served with homemade bread, tarator dip and fries), and I ordered an Arayess Halloum (halloumi cheese, parsley, arabic bread with side of rocca leaves and olives).
As sides, we got some halloumi sticks (served with bbq tomato sauce), and some rakakat jibneh (cheese-filled pastries), which came with olives, pickled veggies and a generous serving of bread. It was all hot, tasty and delicious, and we really loved it.

Shawarma Djej.

Arayess Halloum.

Halloumi sticks. So yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of our meal, we were asked by the chef if we wanted to try some of their desserts, so obviously we accepted!
The super-friendly waitress brought us two cups of a sweet drink: it was café blanc! One was with orange blossom, the other with lemon zest, and both tasted really nice. They were served in very pretty small glasses, and when I asked about it, the waitress told us that the glasses, as well as all the tableware, are custom-made for the restaurant.

Cafe blanc!

Cheesecake.

Cheese knefeh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first dessert was a Lebanese take on traditional cheesecake, with a bottom in sweet cream cheese and a jelly top that tasted fresh, fruity and really yummy, with notes of berries and rose. The second one was a cheese ‘knefeh’, a sort of melted cheese pastry with nuts on top and sweet citrus syrup served on the side. They were both delicious! We never tried these desserts before, and we loved them.

We really enjoyed this new restaurant: the food was really yummy, the staff was very friendly, and the view on the water was so relaxing, making for a lovely atmosphere. We will certainly go back for more!!

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Shakespeare and Co – restaurant and patisserie.

Striking chandeliers.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Where in Abu Dhabi:

 

 

We have heard of this cafe-restaurant-patisserie as soon as we arrived in Abu Dhabi: Shakespeare and Co is a true favourite amongst UK expats.

Judging by the romantic chandeliers and elegant décor, you would think it mostly full of ladies, but when we went there we saw a lot of men sitting inside, and even some people who seemed to be holding a business meeting!
It must be because because the atmosphere is cosy, the menu has a lot of yummy choices, and their cakes, desserts and chocolates are known for being really nice.

Pretty décor.

Our drinks.

Complimentary bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This restaurant has been founded in 2001 and apart from the 16 branches in the UAE, it also has franchises in Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and the United States. It is inspired to 18th Century Europe, and serves a wide range of different dishes, from Italian to Lebanese specialities, plus sandwiches, salads, soups and of course, a lot of amazing-looking chocolates and cakes.

We tried the restaurant inside the Central Market Souk, on a lazy and quiet Saturday afternoon.

The decoration of the place has been studied even in the smallest of details: it made me wish I was wearing crinoline too!
From the lamps to the furniture, from the menu to the tableware, it is like stepping onto the set of a period piece.

Minestrone soup.

Quesadilla.

The pretty menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ordered a minestrone soup and a coke, whilst W ordered a chicken quesadilla and a lemon and mint drink.

Everything was really nice. We were also given some complimentary bread and garlic butter whilst we were waiting, which is always a nice touch! We had planned to get some dessert too, but we were too full, so we will have to leave it until the next time, which I am sure will be soon!

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Eric Kayser – French bakery and cafe

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Yummy Nicoise pasta salad.

OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE
OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Where in Abu Dhabi:
Abu Dhabi Mall, Level 1
Tel: 02 6434660

Éric Kayser is a French baker and food writer.

He opened his first namesake bakery and cafe in 1996, in Paris, France, and in 2001 he was already opening a new shop in Japan, and had won the first of many prizes for ‘best baker in Tokyo’.

Simple decor.

This French chain is present all over the world, but in Abu Dhabi I have found only one outlet, and it is inside Abu Dhabi Mall. We stumbled upon it whilst on a shopping trip, and the sleek design of the interior décor attracted us inside for a quick lunch.

I ordered a fusilli Nicoise (fusilli pasta, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, capsicum and boiled eggs with lemon-mayo-oregano dressing), but I asked if they could skip the tuna, which they did.

W ordered an EK beef burger: grilled beef topped with melted buffalo cheese, herb pesto mayo, basil and fresh rocca leaves, with a special strawberry sun-dried tomatoes vinaigrette and french fries!

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Complimentary starter.

Our meal started with some complimentary bread, which came in a pretty plate complete of tasty pesto-like dip and something that tasted like cream cheese with oil (but might have been labneh).

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The EK burger.

My pasta was tasty and I appreciated the fact that it was made fresh, and without tuna as per my request. W burger was really nice too, and he particularly liked the  strawberry tomato dressing.

We had never heard of Eric Kayser before, but we really enjoyed our food and we will definitely go back for more!

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Havana Cafe – Lebanese restaurant

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Starter platter with falafel, salad, bread and hummus.

Where: opposite Marina Mall, on the Corniche.
Tel: 02 6810044

This quaint eatery does not seem to have any website, or social media, despite being quite big, with a very spacious outdoor seating area, and quite busy and popular, with locals and expats alike.

We ended up here one day after shopping at Marina Mall, looking for something casual and easy.

Being a sunny day (as usual) the outdoor area was packed with people, many of them group of friends or families, but as some were smoking hookas, we preferred to seat inside.

The décor is simple, and reminded me of some towns on the seaside in Italy, with big counters full of delicious-looking cakes and kids running to the bar to get ice lollies.

The menu is Lebanese, with all what you would expect from this type of cuisine: lots of hummus, halloumi, garlic paste, but also fries, salads and more: we were really happy with our food.

Everything was very tasty and surpassed our expectations. We had planned to leave room for one of their gorgeous-looking cakes, but we were so stuffed after a generous starter and a delicious main that we did not manage to do so.

This cafe seems a lovely place where to go and relax on a day out, especially because it is on the Corniche and with a lovely view on the water. It has an authentic feel and simple but tasty food. Staff were friendly and the service was attentive, so we will make sure to go back to try their cakes!

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More hummus and garlic paste.

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Halloumi sandwich

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A sort of Lebanese quesadilla with beef.

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