Steakhouse classics are elevated with the launch of a new brunch at Oak Room inside Abu Dhabi Edition. David Tapley takes a seat in the hopes of becoming a meat connoisseur…
The Abu Dhabi Edition is a unique entity in the capitals hospitality sector and a five-star property that doesn’t feel very “Abu Dhabi.” Bucking the trend for opulence and grandeur that many hotels in the city appear to strive for, the first Edition hotel in the region is a boutique property of understated luxury that feels like a breath of fresh air.
Much like the hotel in which it resides, Oak Room is looking to bring a unique twist to a city which already has its fair share of steakhouses. Masked by dark recessed wood, the entrance to Oak Room is easily missed, but hidden behind the atmospheric panels lies a British rock and roll steakhouse with a soundtrack to match. Striking black and white images of Mick Jagger and David Bowie line the walls, while the bar makes for the ideal spot for relaxation and people watching. In the adjacent dining room, bulbous gold light fittings set the tone, and velvet banquettes provide a sense of sophistication which is further surpassed by the butchery. An impressive design element showcasing the meat cuts and associated paraphernalia of saws, cleavers and knives behind a perfect glass casing.
British Celebrity Chef Tom Aikens who still holds the title as the youngest chef to be bestowed with the coveted Michelin Star, has curated the menu for the restaurant and despite this not being our first visit, we are excited by the launch of a new Friday brunch menu. This carefully crafted lunchtime offering has us immediately salivating thanks to a mixture of steakhouse classics and more abstract choices, all given a distinct British spin. But first, we’ve got to talk about the marmite butter! Love it or hate it, Marmite forms the first stage of Oak Room’s culinary journey as the yeast-based condiment is incorporated into a freshly churned butter and served over warm sourdough bread that’s likely to convert even the strongest naysayers.
Although it may be brunch, Oak Room continues its reputation for generous portions and the first course comprising of plentiful sharing starters. We’re in awe of the kale and cashew salad, piled high with apple and roasted broccoli and representative of a superfood mountain that reflects chef Aikens culinary ethos of making the most of local ingredients. The housemade ricotta is another winner, boasting light and creamy ricotta cheese, complemented by heritage tomatoes and a beautiful aged balsamic.
Whereas you might expect to find crab cakes on a steakhouse menu, here we are instead treated to English crab mixed with basil mayonnaise and yoghurt that is both light and fresh. The presentation of this particular dish captures our attention, for the crab mixture is wrapped and encased within thin strips of pickled cucumber. Taking on the form of a visual sculpture that wouldn’t be out of place on London’s Tate Modern museum. Classic steakhouse fare comes to the fore with a simple Beef Carpaccio which takes paper-thin layers of peppered beef tenderloin and adorns them with Portobello mushrooms and horseradish sauce.
Oak Room has built its reputation on offering exquisite cuts of meat, some of which are difficult to procure in the UAE, and brunch is no different! Guests are invited to choose one main course from a selection that includes half roasted chicken, fish and chips, USDA prime tenderloin, and Westholme Wagyu Denver steak. We opted for the latter and were pleased to discover a fantastic piece of meat, charred on the outside and delightfully tender within. It may be cliché, but this particular 200g cut melts in the mouth as the fat breaks down to help bring with it, exceptional flavour. Served with a pleasing array of mustards, sauces and sides, we can highly recommend branching out for additional sides such as the Mac and cheese or Split Grilled Lobster which come at an additional cost but are well worth the upgrade.
Desserts run the gauntlet of British classics and include a delightful Sticky Toffee Pudding which verges on the right side of sweetness and feels rather gluttonous. The Eton Mess piles the quintessentially British dessert with countless layers of meringue, fresh strawberries and lashings of cream. Would we have preferred the meringue pieces to be bigger? Perhaps! Yet the dessert successfully reminds us of summers at Wimbledon and a nostalgic feeling of home, during a summer when we have been unable to make the annual pilgrimage back to the UK. Since opening, Oak Room has garnered strong word of mouth reviews from the Abu Dhabi community, and the result is a busy restaurant on the afternoon that we brunch. Service is incredibly strong, and the young team boast good menu knowledge and oodles of personality that can only be rivalled by the beguiling beverages.
Oak Room does not conform to the Abu Dhabi norm and instead forges a unique path of its own, much like its rock and roll stylings. The launch of brunch was a smart move by the team at the Abu Dhabi Edition and allows guests to sample some of the restaurants signature dishes at a fraction of the cost of dining à la carte. Get those reservations in quick!
Brunch runs every Friday from 12pm – 5pm and costs AED 195 (soft beverages), AED 365 (house beverages) and AED 465 (bubbles). Pick a three-hour window of your choosing during brunch hours, and you’re good to go!