Could this be the most Roe-mantic pop-up in Abu Dhabi..?
When we first heard about the new Champagne and Caviar bar at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, the whole thing just felt like one of those exclusive UAE experiences that were meant for another stratum of society, the PJS (private jet set) for example, or the people that pay the extra Dhs6 for guac. It’s a permanent pop-up, within the hotel’s Signature 3 Lounge — uniquely offering, as you may have deduced from the name, Champagne and caviar. Then there are the elevated desert Island sea views, and the fact the bar is only open for a 5pm to 7pm sundowner session.
So very exclusive in fact, that we had to try it.
Seated within the Signature 3 set up, the Champagne and Caviar bar occupies a tiny space — a Fabergé-esqe kiosk of wood panelling, gold and a glass display cabinet showing off a variety of caviar tins. We’re not sure whether it was the ‘they’re fish eggs right?’ comment or the puzzled look on our faces that signalled our ignorance on the nuanced world of caviar, but our server politely explained some of the finer points of this most fancy food type.
“Here we use Kaviari, it’s a French brand, but the sturgeon roe is all still from Russia — that’s a bit controversial for some purists, but we find the quality to be very good”. Indeed it is. We assume, we have no fish roe yardstick outside of taramasalata toasties. There’s a price list of various roe grades, ranging from Dhs450 for 30 grams to the Imperiel Beluga option which rings in at Dhs2,000 for 50g. We’ve opted for a mid range, Caviar Baeri Royal which is supposed to evoke ‘earthy flavours with a woody hint’.
The serving ritual involves cracking open one of the tins, placing it on ice and then — using a wooden spoon — loading melba toast or soft blinis with a sizeable scoop. You’re also provided with a collection of condiments — egg white and yolk (separately), raw onion, chives and sour cream. It’s in experimenting with combinations of garnish, that we start to understand the true allure of this tiny spherical black gold. At first we have to focus to taste past the, admittedly still pleasant, salty, vaguely fishy profiles — but with each bite, more complicated aromas emerge. There genuinely are oaky tones, peaty notes, sometimes nutty but always umami flavours flooding through.
The champagne element of the evening, we are somewhat more familiar with — there’s no tentative, “so this is made from grapes right?’ moment. We’re also aware of the cherished Sabering ritual, The St. Regis tradition, a salute to the sunset that takes place in every single one of the more than 50 locations across the world, where a champagne bottle is opened with a sword. It’s dramatic, atmospheric and a poetic nod to the nostalgia of a more formal time. And more than a little ‘Gatsby’. Which makes it the perfect pairing for a caviar experience
Verdict: The St. Regis has put together a unique-to-Abu-Dhabi experience here. Full of ritual and characterised by unabashed luxury — it feels special. We might have developed a caviar habit too, but that’s ok — it’s way more fun than, and should work out about the same price as, golf.
The Signature 3, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island, 5pm to 7pm. Tel: (02) 498 8443, [email protected]