Consistency is key when it comes to dining in the UAE capital and we’re pleased to note that seafood speciality restaurant Catch successfully manages to maintain strong service standards and excellent food, four years after opening. FACT’s David Tapley dines at the recently awarded Best Seafood Restaurant 2019 at the FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi…

Catch’s calibre continually impresses diners with a menu of ‘haute cuisine’ strongly influenced by Asia. The location offers much of the venue’s appeal. Perched upon a pristine strip of sand within the Nation Riviera complex of The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, the views across the Arabian Gulf to Lulu Island are just as exciting as the cuisine.The restaurant’s design elements completely lean into the seafood concept and rather than opting for the expected nautical-inspired interiors, the space is far more modern. Sleek lines define a venue of brilliant whites that re-emphasises the notion of being at the beach. Driftwood perches upon tabletops, light bulbs are strung with entwined fisherman’s ropes and the sushi counter is fronted by a pattern of embossed fish scales. All nods to the sea, that help to build a relevant connection to the cuisine.Upstairs lies a rooftop lounge ideal for an early evening sundowner, while the main restaurant boasts a wrap-around terrace that practically sits on top of the sand. Service remains one of the restaurant’s defining factors with a style that is efficient and allows for rapport to be built easily. Staff are well versed in the nuances of the food and beverage lists and a theatricality comes into play with concoctions served within conch shells and glassware made to resemble a bloated puffer fish. All helping to subtly enhance the seafood theme. Under the guidance of Executive Chef Kavish Chimajee, Catch champions fresh produce, allowing even simple combinations of ingredients to transcend expectations in a bid to promote flavour. A perfect example of this is the sea bass ceviche (AED69). Plated with pickled onion, sweet potato and a vibrant bell pepper dressing. The dish is exquisite and visually appealing with the sea bass rolled and adorned with edible flowers, taking on the appearance of an elaborate crown.

An organic quinoa (AED79) presented beneath a glistening bell jar brings together watermelon and feta cheese with a sweet red bell pepper coulis. Elevating the trending superfood to more than just a salad in which different flavours come to the fore with each individual mouthful. Similarly, the signature sushi platter (AED209) adds an additional dimension to the dining experience. Arriving amidst billows of smoke and elaborately sculptures carved from ice. Accompanied by fresh wasabi root grated at the table, we throughly enjoy the California Rolls comprising of jumbo crab, orange tobiko and spicy mayonnaise, alongside three choices of sashimi – yellowtail, sea bass and salmon- which are cut thicker than expected and exemplify the Catch ethos of using only the freshest ingredients.

The varied menu isn’t all about seafood and provides an inclusive choice that caters to the requirements of both carnivores and vegetarians. Don’t miss the braised short ribs (AED89) bringing together bite sized cubes of tender short rib, topped with pomelo (a fruit from the citrus family), carrot pickle and sesame seeds. The meat is braised and fried, before braising again. Resulting in a remarkable texture that’s crisp on the outside while beautifully tender within, much like a Peking Duck.

While the menu has clearly been designed for sharing. Each dish can rightfully be hailed as a signature. Main courses encompass the ever-popular choice of black cod, Canadian lobster, grilled prawns and Hokkaido scallops (AED199). The scallops have the shellfish plated with pumpkin risotto and a yuzu saffron sauce, before being crowned with a circular squid ink tuile topped with caviar. A gastronomic delight which plays with luxury ingredients such as the scallops that are harvested in Japan and characterised by their firmness and subtle sweetness. Ingredients come to the fore again with the Wagyu Beef. Available in various forms cuts and presented to the table on a barbecue amidst two varieties of mushrooms and a rich and flavoursome mushroom and beef jus that complements the meat perfectly.

Desserts continue the high standards with the chocolate sphere (AED65) resembling a Pokemon ball thanks to a unique white and red colouration. The smooth sphere of chocolate shows no signs of imperfection until a warm chocolate sauce is poured on top, thus melting the exterior to reveal an interior loaded with chocolate brownies, kumquat compote and the nostalgia of popping candy. For something less decadent the coconut (AED49) is a lighter option that brings together the contrasting textures of coconut panna cotta and tapioca, with a fresh mango and passion emulsion that leaves a lasting impression of tropical flavours.

Catch is the epitome of destination dining and the experience is representative of a meal that we don’t want to end, no matter how many times we visit. The recent appointment of industry veteran Claus Burbat as General Manger has really taken the venue to new heights. The ambience is made even warmer and more inviting through an updated playlist, giving the restaurant a casual yet stylish atmosphere, where classy meets trendy to create a more social culinary experience. No doubt, a result of elevated changes made under Claus’ leadership, with many subtler enhancements to come. Catch’scuisine blends together seafood, superfoods and high quality ingredients into exquisite dishes that we can only describe as “gourmet artistry.”

GO: Call (0)2 611 0909 or visit www.catch.ae for reservations and more information.