Catch is a revelation. Perched on a pristine strip of sand on Abu Dhabi’s corniche, the views over the Arabian Gulf are stunning. A location especially fitting for a restaurant specialising in seafood and one that instantly connects with diners from the second they walk through the door.
Everything about Catch is clean. Sleek lines, brilliant whites and a sparing use of glass, make for a venue that exudes sophistication. Whereas most seafood restaurants tend to go for a nautical theme, Catch subverts expectations and instead opts for something more akin to sun kissed shores. Arched windows bathe the space is ample natural light and though decor is minimal, sculpted glassware, hints of driftwood, fish scale textures and light fittings made from fisherman’s rope. All make for an appealing dining room.
Upstairs is a rooftop lounge ideal for an early evening sundowner and the main restaurant opens out onto a wrap-around terrace that practically sits on top of the sand. Service throughout the venue is pleasing and efficient and a good rapport is easily built with the Catch team. Special mention should be given to Head Chef Roudy Peterson who is the heart and soul of the operation. Speaking passionately about the concept while effortlessly guiding us on an exemplary culinary journey.
With so few restaurants in the capital focusing strictly on seafood, it’s pleasing to see that not only do Catch undertake things with a certain amount of pizzaz, but there are no mis-steps in what can only be described as one of our favourite meals in the capital to date. It’s not only the appealing interiors, exuding a sense of style and comfort, but the entire package. From fruity fresh cocktail blends, to the immaculate plating, in which simple ingredients are elevated into gourmet artistry.
It’s been sometime since we glanced at a menu are were completely stumped by what to order. Too often we find sprawling menus with too much filler, but the menu here is concise and well thought out. The food is strictly fusion and pulls influence from Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine without infringing on the core ingredient of the plate. We begin with Sea Bass Ceviche, a plate unlike anything we’ve seen before. An apparent work of art in which the sea bass has been rolled amongst pickled onion, chunks of sweet potato and garnished with edible flowers and a bell pepper dressing. It’s a dish of immaculate precision and well balanced flavours that complement without overpowering.
A platter of Catch’s Signature Sushi arrives amidst billows of smoke, adding an additional dimension to the dining experience, It’s wholly unnecessary, as the food itself stands above any presentation gimmicks. With the wasabi root grated at the table, we indulge in generous portions of sushi, including Dragon Rolls (grilled eel, spicy crab, Teriyaki sauce), Spicy Tuna (with avocado, pickled cucumber and Kimchee sauce) and four types of sashimi, Cut thicker than the usual, these sashimi slices allow diners to really appreciate the full flavours of the fish in a dish that exemplifies the Catch ethos of using the freshest seasonal ingredients.
Catch isn’t all about seafood though and the needs of both carnivores and vegetarians are well catered for. An appetiser of Braised Short Ribs reflects this, in terms of both presentation and flavour. Cubes of tender short rib are lined up in a presentation dish that looks like a hollowed bone and topped with pomelo (a fruit from the citrus family), carrot pickle and sesame seeds. It’s a marinade of startling flavours and the meat is crisp on the outside. The fusion element creeps in with the partial textures of Chinese restaurant favourite, Peking Duck. It’s everything one would expect from a short rib dish and a welcome relief following our horrific experience at Cavalli Club with short ribs earlier this week.
For our main course, Chef Roudy recommends the Chilean Sea Bass. Cooked in a cocotte and sealed with a ‘lid’ of breaded pretzel, the aroma released is powerful and fragrant, drawing you into the story of the dish. Each mouthful engulfs us with flavour and the fish itself remains delicate and completely infused with the lemongrass broth. It’s a subtle idea and one that’s easy to appreciate for its mix of Shimeji mushrooms and Edamame. Although this was the only main course that we sampled (it was lunchtime after all) we’re already excited to return for the King Crab and Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek, though we’re under the strict impression that you can’t go wrong with anything ordered at Catch. If you decide to opt for grilled fish (hammour, yellow fin tuna, miso salmon) they come with a selection of appealing sauces.
Desserts continue the high standards and almost manage to take the title of our favourite dessert in Abu Dhabi (a position currently held by Tamba’s The Break-Up). The Melting Chocolate Sphere is perfection on a plate. A smooth sphere of chocolate shows no signs of imperfection until a hot chocolate sauce is poured on top. The sphere slowly begins to melt before collapsing and revealing an interior loaded with marshmallows and brownie pieces. It’s decadent, glorious and branded with the emblematic Catch logo.
Catch is representative of a meal that we didn’t want to end and we would gladly order each dish again. We’d been hearing rumblings about Catch for sometime but unfortunately they’ve always been overshadowed by the behemoth that is Asia De Cuba, sitting just next door. As a straight up seafood restaurant Catch ticks all the right boxes and corrects many of the pitfalls we experienced at the similarly themed Finz.
Not to be confused with Catch in Dubai, a venue that’s also making waves (see what we did there). Catch Abu Dhabi is the epitome of destination dining. A place that feels special enough to get dressed up for and an experience that’s truly immersive. Having recentely celebrated their second anniversary, it’s pleasing to see that consistancy and quality continue to be maintained and reign supreme. Sure, the prices are reflective of the quality and experience offered but when it’s this good, you really don’t mind.
We were invited to dine at Catch. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.