Al Maryah Island’s Four Seasons hotel has made quite a mark on the capital since opening in the latter half of 2016. Offering unrivalled quality in both aesthetics and service, it’s one of only a handful of properties in Abu Dhabi that’s managed to surprise and impress time and again. It all began with the launch of ‘The Best Brunch‘ with it’s eclectic mix of buffet and table service thats become a firm favourite with team Out & About UAE. Next to open was Eclipse, a pool bar with a sense of style and sophistication. A refreshing change in comparison to most properties, whose poolside offerings seem more like an afterthought. Then it was Zsa Zsa and an edible cocktail menu, followed in quick succesion by the opening of two fine dining restaurants – the Italian inspired Cafe Milano and a traditional steakhouse, Butcher and Still.
Butcher and Still opened to unanimous praise and in a relativley short time period, has quietly built a reputation as the best steakhouse in the capital. Although we have yet to dine a la carte, the invitation to sample the newly launched ‘Great American Saturday BBQ’ seemed too good to miss.
Designed as a modern interpretation of a 1920s prohibition-era Chicago steakhouse, Buthcer and Still is exactly what you’d expect from a haven to all things meat. An abundance of dark wood, retro inspired decor and distressed leather banquettes, make for an intimate and inviting venue and one much smaller than we’d envisioned. Usually the steakhouse is perceived as a man’s domain and though the space does feel very ‘masculine’ it’s both inviting and inclusive. Boasting innovative touches such as the antique “Tanqueray No. 10 Imperial Martini Shaker.” An impressive cocktail mixing device that looks more industrial revolution than Abu Dhabi chic, it’s one of only five in the world and the only one to reside in the Middle East. In true homage to the Al Capone gangster era, you’ll also find bullet casings in the bathroom and a private dining room only accessible via secret elevator.
This all pales in comparison to the outside terrace which utilises the superb vantage point that the Four Seasons has on Al Maryah Island. The front half of the restaurant is constructed of bi-folding doors which slide back to create a terrace like no other. A sun trap by day and an ideal spot for sundowners, the vistas are appealing no matter what time you may choose to dine.
Now the question in our minds was “does the Four Seasons really need another brunch?” To be honest, this may be an all you can eat / all you can drink concept but it’s more of a backyard BBQ than an all out brunch. A casual offering with a limited number of dishes and one that offers diners the chance to sample the quality of Butcher and Still without having to indluge in the hefty price tags. With few establishments in Abu Dhabi offering a Saturday brunch, it’s a novel idea and the laid back nature of this particular concept allows diners to slowly ease themselves back into the working week.
There is no table service or extensive buffet. Instead diners help themselves from a selection of salads and side dishes that are presented with little fuss on the terrace. Smoked Potato Salad and Creamy Southern Coleslaw are the staples of any good BBQ and the renditions here are of particular note, carefully balancing the ratio between ingredients and sauce. The limited buffet continues with an Ambrosia Fruit Salad, Chopped Greens and a Pasta Salad which is the best of the bunch.
Onto the BBQ itself, we were a little disappointed by a lack of steak. This is a steakhouse after all and this BBQ would’ve been an ideal opportunity for the team at B&S to showcase their signature offering in a means to encourage diners to return for dinner on another occasion.
Missed opportunities aside, the meat is excellent in terms of both quality and flavour. Grilled Chicken Breast, Dry-Rubbed Wings and Veal Ribs smothered in BBQ sauce, are all cooked to order and certainly make an impact. It’s the Duck Fat Burgers and Brauts that really excel, with their sweet brioche buns that are baked in house. Burgers and hot dogs can be loaded to your own liking from the array of accompaniments – tomatoes, lettice, onions and pickles (to list just a few).
In terms of side dishes there’s corn on the cob, country baked beans and potato chips with salsa. The addition of cornbread and mac n cheese would’ve made this BBQ near-perfect in our opinion and their absense was noted. Perhaps the F&B team at the Four Seasons could look into adding these firm favourites?
A small selection of desserts is offered and again sticks firmly to American favourties that are likely to appease those with a sweet tooth, Strawberry Shortcake and Peach Cobbler.
Service throughout was very good, with the service style reflective of the laid-back nature of the brunch. Very friendly and personable with children especially well catered to. Butcher and Still’s Chef was on hand, constantly doing the rounds to ensure guests were happy and this level of interactivty was certainly appreciated, plus he’s an all round nice guy!
The BBQ was relatively quiet when we visited and being only a week old that’s perhaps to be expected. We do believe that this is a concept that has the potential to grow into a suitable weekend brunch alternative but saying that, we did note a couple of things.
In keeping with the BBQ vibe, the drinks included within the package are very limited. Draft beers (which will soon be served in red keg cups for a true slice of Americana), soft drinks and non-alcoholic slushies are included but for anything else you need to pay. Wine starts at AED 25 a glass but when you’re already paying AED 25o for the package, it would be nice to have wine and a few other options included.
With such a great family friendly brunch taking place each weekend upstairs at Crust, it would be nice to see some of these elements come into play at Butcher & Still. Yes, we understand this is a fine dining establishment but on a weekend lunchtime people will more than likely want to bring their families. Perhaps some sort of entertainment for the littles ones could be provided? Saying that, the team did a wonderful job of keeping our two occupied so that we could eat in relative peace.
The Saturday BBQ is different enough to make its mark on the Abu Dhabi dining scene and does an admirable job of recreating the feeling of a backyard BBQ. A place where friends and family can gather in a casual manner over great food and a few beers. Despite the lack of steak, the BBQ Brunch (and a peek at the dinner menu) has already cemented our interest in returning for dinner and with the arrival of Butcher and Still, the Four Seasons has another dazzling restaurant to add to its already glittering crown.
The Great American Saturday BBQ runs on Saturday lunhctimes from 12pm – 4pm and costs AED 250++ (inclusive of draft beer).
Location: Lobby Level, Four Seasons Hotel, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook
Hours: 1pm – 4pm / 7pm – 1am
Phone: 02 333 2222
We were invited to dine at Butcher & Still. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.