Last month saw the launch of a new seasonal menu at Pearls by Michael Caines. The meticulous attention to detail of the two Michelin star winning chef shines through in this sumptuous menu, showcasing exquisite European cooking and flavours. Pearls by Michael Caines offers tantalising seasonal menus, as well as gourmet tasting menus which change every three weeks. Business lunches and early dinners are well catered for, with incredible value two and three course set menus. KM was thrilled to taste the new à la carte menu, carefully developed by Michael who visited Abu Dhabi last month in order to sample our local fish markets and demonstrate the cooking of his signature dishes.
Relaxed and informal, the restaurant has a cool and comfortable vibe with an outdoor terrace perfect for sundowners. The service is attentive and discreet; in particular, assistant manager, Claus Burbat, is passionate about delivering the vision of Michael Caines and Chef de Cuisine, Kevin Fleming. The concise menu offers the ‘pearls’ of Michael’s signature European dishes and Claus is delighted to explain the depth of work which has been put into tailoring the dishes to suit the varying palates and cultures in Abu Dhabi.
A stunning amuse-bouche of whipped goat’s cheese, accompanied by tempting bread, hints at delights to follow. The subtle beetroot sauce cuts perfectly through the lighter-than-air cheese and caramelised walnuts add satisfying crunch. Our interest and appetites piqued, we cannot wait to try more!
The starter menu offers dishes to suit all tastes, from the rich pan-fried foie gras, with orange braised chicory, caramelised walnuts and spiced jus, to the lighter salad of watermelon, tomato jelly and burrata. We are torn between several enticing suggestions, including galantine of quail, with pistachios and black trumpets, hazelnut mayonnaise, and sultana and truffle vinaigrette, as well as ravioli of crab with lemon and ginger bisque. Finally, we opt for two highly recommended dishes; a warm salad of lobster and pan-fried scallops. With a perfectly crisp exterior and velvety, tender middle, the scallops are tipping perfection, topped as they are with luxurious Sevruga caviar. The accompanying tapenade, tomato jelly and aubergine vinaigrette make for an unusual taste sensation. The warm lobster salad, also with Sevruga caviar, is a triumph; heavenly lobster and potato salad and a mouthwatering claw are perfectly balanced by the pleasant kick of the curried mayonnaise.
With temptations such as wild sea bass with blue prawn, baby fennel and bouillabaisse sauce, pan roasted Loch Duart salmon, with salmon raviolo and sauce vierge, and beef fillet with braised beef cheek on offer, we are spoilt for choice with the main courses. Salt cod and courgette flower stuffed with crab mousse, sounds too good to miss and it certainly does not disappoint; every aspect of the dish is ambrosial. The flavours of the salt-baked cod, delectable crab mousse, lemon purée and smoked red pepper foam are brought together in perfect harmony, making for a very special experience. Roasted breast and confit leg of squab pigeon with pea purée, wild mushrooms, asparagus and Madeira sauce is rich and decadent, although perhaps a little over-seasoned. Side dishes of moreish truffled mashed potato and refreshingly light and zingy fricassée of peas and broad beans are not necessarily essential, but are a truly delicious complement to the main dishes.
The desserts have a lot to live up to after the pleasures of the previous two courses. We spend a short while weighing up the likely merits of strawberry mousse accompanied by poached strawberries and basil and sweet olive purée, compared to banana parfait with lime, peanuts and caramel sauce; as well as other tempting sweet and savoury options. Our choice, vanilla crème brulée and caramelised peaches, with light and fruity nectarine sorbet is suitably nectarous: gratifyingly aromatic vanilla offset by an enjoyable burnt flavour from both the light, crunchy sugar and the strongly caramelised peaches. Rose-infused chocolate mousse encased in a lit white chocolate candle makes us smile, as does the sublime raspberry sorbet with which it is coupled. Arguably, the star of the dessert menu is Michael Caines’ signature pudding, chocolate orange confit mousse with orange sorbet. The painstakingly-made chocolate orange, filled with scrumptiously rich chocolate mousse, is a feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds.
All in all, we can hardly wait to visit again to try more of the delicious dishes on offer. Pearls by Michael Caines is a ‘must-visit’ for any gourmand in town!