Caramel Restaurant & Lounge

A slick new after-hours bar makes Time Out proud to be grown-up 17 Reviews

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It’s easy to understand why some sweet-toothed patrons may find Caramel disappointing. Despite the name, it’s not a sugar-shack; instead it positions itself as a purring after-work lounge. The place is a Las Vegas export, and as such you’d expect something flashy and ostentatious. Defiantly eschewing the stereotype, Caramel is a sophisticated, low-lit, low-key affair with a long central bar that demands mingling. My date and I chose to eat on the outdoor terrace, which was walled with cool horizontal blinds and kitted out with matching stiff-if-sleek seating. It felt a little like eating inside a bento box, albeit one filled with greenery.

Dubai’s food scene can often feel overwrought; Caramel’s chilled-out approach made it a rare treat. The service was cooing without feeling strained, the interior was attractive without the use of gold or glitz, and the food was delectable without drowning in foie gras, caviar or truffles (although there was the occasional use of truffle oil). Take, for instance, my date’s starter: gently seasoned, dewy chicken mince served alongside neat little cups made from iceberg lettuce and a sultry plum sauce. This Korean-inspired dish was brilliantly simple and easy-going, the ingredients gelling like old university buddies.

My order of mini mango and lobster tacos was less neat, but more refreshing. The shellfish took on the characteristic of a well-made ceviche, thanks in part to a lime marinade, and a sprinkling of coriander added to the luscious zest of the dish. I soon learned the importance of cradling my hand underneath each taco – the filling seemed far too eager to leap out onto my lap (making me also realise that good napkins are vastly underappreciated).

Mains were less inventive, but no less worthy of praise. My date’s salmon was saturated in its own juices. A minor qualm: it was a touch oily (even for salmon). Still, it was fresh and saline and tasted as though it had swum directly onto the plate. Accentuating the fillet’s clean taste was a light white bean side.

I had opted for a rich and massive portion of lamb shank. The meat cowered under my cutlery and slid off the bone as if its fate were to dissolve on my tongue, alongside a comforting heap of lentil ragout.

In what surely must come as a shock to my colleagues, who were hoping Caramel would serve, well, some caramel, there were only three dessert options: apple crumble, chocolate fondant and sorbet. Assorted sorbet barely counts as a dessert, so my date and I ordered the two remaining options left to us. The crumble was a delightfully homely affair. It came served in a small cast-iron dish with a side of ice cream. No wheel reinvention here, just a delightfully cinnamon-fuelled concoction with a buttery topping. The ever-classic fondant was good, if predictable: the belly of the beast oozed dark chocolate and a scoop of mild cappuccino ice cream served the pudding well. I wouldn’t have objected to a tad more innovation from the pastry chef, but both desserts remained a treat to eat.

Aside from a long wait for the bill at the night’s end and a few frisky mosquitoes, our experience at Caramel was serene and lovely. It’s definitely an adult place: you’ll find no merry revellers here. But that’s what makes it so refreshing. It’s somewhere you can meet up with co-workers over a drink and a bar snack, or take a date for a home-style meal. It’s the type of place that makes us glad we’re not teenagers any more. Maturity never tasted so good.

The bill (for two)
1x Large bottle of water Dhs26
1x Lettuce cups Dhs60
1x Lobster tacos Dhs75
1x Salmon Dhs110
1x Lamb shank Dhs110
1x Chocolate fondant Dhs34
1x Crumble Dhs34
Municipality charge Dhs44.90
Total Dhs493.90

By Daisy Carrington
Time Out Dubai,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: DIFC, Dubai
  • Tel: 04 425 6677
  • Travel: Sheikh Zayed Road, DIFC

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User reviews

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  • Users voted this restaurant most suitable for: Romantic

User reviews:

Posted by: maryam on 28 Jan ' 13 at 11:32
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  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

my fav place

Posted by: M on 24 Jan ' 13 at 05:55
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

Never again,
I did not touch my food, the only good thing which honestly was on every table was scallop shrimp, we ordered one as appetizer plus other things as appetizers then the main course and the only thing we touched was the scallop.....the restaurant was cold and extremely dark (8:30 pm for dinner you want to see your friends but after midnight lights-out make sense!), so we left hungry with headache and bad taste in the mouth! but they have a very friendly staff.

Posted by: Terri O'Kelly on 15 Jul ' 12 at 07:57
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

I had a really fantastic meal with some great wine and fabulous company. The music was great and the atmosphere fantastic. This was ruined by the waitress that threw our bill at us without us asking for it, the hostess with an attitude that i have never come across anywhere else in Dubai or the world for that matter and a manager that really did nothing to resolve the situation. This has left a bad taste in my mouth and i wont be back anytime soon. What happened to the customer is always right?!?!

Posted by: Frédéric on 17 May ' 12 at 13:25
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  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

This trendy place Caramel Restaurant & Lounge, consisting of a lounge bar, a restaurant and lounge with a DJ. Quiet tonight because of Ramadan and the restriction of alcohol, but outside this period must be reserved primarily for a table on weekends. The first thing you notice is the little light (illumination of the sieved), then to read to forget. The tables are simple, with easy chairs but without much fuss, like covered. The kitchen is rather international merger. Servers (keynote speakers) are very hospitable and slinky skirts for girls .... we will say that it sells.
As flat, I opted for the "Steak & Frites", excellent cuts of beef sliced ​​served separately with a pepper sauce and another with balsamic vinegar, served with French fries with cheese and spices. Excellent meat, tender fried to perfection and very interesting with the mixture. Beautiful presentation of the dish.

In the end, pleasant evening, good food and hospitality.

Areas for improvement:
- A bit expensive compared to other restaurant, but you pay the "hipness" .....

Posted by: Chirag Mehta on 23 Jan ' 12 at 09:24
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  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Finally a venue which understands the need for good service, attention to details and overall clean presentation.

Not sure about the some of the above reviewees, they seem a little disillusioned.

I frequent the venue atleast once a week and am happy to entertain friends, family or business associates there.

The food is presented perfectly and tastes even better! The hostesses are at your service without being invasive and they dont try and sell you everything on the menu.

Basically, if you havent tried it, you should!

p.s - you need to try the Chocolate Brownie - heaven on a plate!

Posted by: ANGELA on 30 Oct ' 11 at 19:40
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

I booked a table in the restaurant 3hr before going there and I was still able to make the reservation.
When we went there we were escorted outside in the lounge area, and we were told that we could eat there, the lounge area had small and unconfortable table, good for a drink but not for a dinner. At that point, we asked if we were going to be there all the night and the hostess replied saying that they didn't had any table for that moment. What's a professional way to take our booking down.
Eventually, we end up to receive a table in the restaurant, by chance, most probably because somebody had just left.
Once we seated, we had to wait long time to have the food menu, we had to ask the wine list, and we had to call the waiter to order our drinks, because he forgot to ask us.
When I placed my order, I asked to the waited if I could changed the side dish of my main course with a different one, the waiter accepted saying that it was possible but with a little charge, which was fine for me. Once we received the bill, we realised that the side dish was full charged and with my big surprise there were a couple of more items which we never had...was this a strategy to steal money from their guest???anyway if we wouldn't have looked at the check we were going to pay 150 dhs over. Obviously no apologises from the manager in duty or the waiter.
One thing to say, the food is very good, although with a very limited choise, but you really have to look into your service. It used to be way better before!

Posted by: Arezou on 04 Oct ' 11 at 09:01
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

I wrote a review, but I on't know why it was not posted.
Very bad restaurant, awful food, awful food presentation, awful service and definitely not worth the price. The worst experience I have had. Very sorry to have spent money there.

Posted by: Arezou on 04 Oct ' 11 at 06:51
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

An AWFUL experience. The food is very very very bad,, very bad taste, very bad presentation, very bad service and expensive. I have been to many restaurants and lounges in dubai, but I am very sad to say that Caramel is the worst experience I have had in Dubai.
I do not recommend it at all and am very sorry to have spent money there.

Posted by: dean on 02 Jul ' 11 at 22:51
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Posted by: jezza on 30 Jan ' 11 at 17:02
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

my friends and i went on a friday night (with reservation) and had a great time! We shared a few of their small bites and it was sufficient and very yummy food! very tasty and portions are great, good value for money.
although, when it gets busy, their staff are overwhelmed and cant keep their composure... needs more training and possibly more staff on busy nights like Friday night.

Posted by: HAMID on 01 Jan ' 11 at 04:27

GUYS SALMAN KHAN IS CURRENTLY IN THAT AREA I SAW HIM IN THIS RESTAURANT WITH HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS ON 29TH DECEMBER 2010

Posted by: Stefan on 01 Oct ' 10 at 14:04
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

I had pleasure to have drinks or casual drinks in Caramel without booking, never bad experience, never Wow ... but definitely nice place in DIFC ! But I've been really disappointed when I recently tried to book a table via email... I never received any follow up or confirmation.. nothing.. So I called on the D Day to check my reservation... answer : sorry we are fully booked tonight !!!! they never checked my email...So I don't know if I would go back as first contact and good night start at booking.......

Posted by: Jan wilbert on 01 Sep ' 10 at 04:00
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  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Even i went to CARAMEL ... its awesome place ... had good fun and good crowd but most of the people were busy drinking ....

Posted by: Kevin Edmonds on 28 Aug ' 10 at 08:04
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Good looking place, clever use of terrace with the canopy in the summer.
Service average to poor, usual problem with inexperience and junior staff.
Food OK nothing special.

Posted by: Jake on 18 Aug ' 10 at 14:43
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  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Posted by: AZAD on 04 Aug ' 10 at 12:07
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  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Posted by: Nasser ZUHOUR on 16 Apr ' 10 at 10:10
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

To be very honest, i find caramel very different & tasty, chilled out & laid back.The menu is just perfect & not complicated for the kind of Lounge they are trying to be.
They remember all the guest & by name.
The outside seating is something we don't normally see in Dubai, it's very cool actually.
I have tasted the whole menu & in 3 week i have been there 5 times already.
My recommendations would be "their signature dishes":
Chicken Lollypops & black cod wrapped in Lettuce

Don't miss the mini burgers & the steak & fries.
fries are sprinkled with a touch of garlic & mozzarella cheese

If you are a salad lover, they have very good choices.

A very nice place, i highly recommend it & i if your around you have to pay them a visit.

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