Launched with the backing of Hollywood actor Ashton (for the alliteration-friendly combination of Kutcher and Ketchup, geddit?) this new spot on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard has opened with a promise of an all-American menu of steaks, burgers, smoked meats and five varieties of ketchup.

Tucked around the corner among other restaurants in the Boulevard Plaza area, we wandered into a fun yet modern looking set-up, cleanly designed in red and white. Although very modestly sized, the space had been used well. In addition to some odd red ketchup markings splashed against a white background on pillars and walls, the red and white theme continued very cleverly throughout. The screen used to partly separate the private dining area at the back depicted the American artist Jackson Pollock at work on his paint splashes and the row of lights hanging from the ceiling were made with an arrangement of red Perspex rectangles that looked like a pixelated vision of a splodge of ketchup.

The restaurant was hosting a respectable number of diners, aside from my guest and I. The staff were not ultra slick or impressive in their service skills, but friendly, welcoming and helpful. They were however able to pinpoint a few bestsellers on the menu and also had the initiative to ask the kitchen about questions they didn’t have the answers to.

As for the menu itself, despite the concept (and main menu choice) sounding decidedly meaty, I was impressed to find that Ketchup had recently introduced a separate ‘green’ menu of vegetarian dishes such as bean burgers and stuffed potato skins. However, we opted instead for the fish sampler platter as a starter to share, which offered a collection of some of the better sounding items on the list such as crab and shrimp cakes, potato skins and jumbo prawns. It all sounded abundant and exciting, but on arrival, the plate looked fairly limp, like fried bar food. The jumbo shrimp were well-prepared, as were the crab and shrimp cakes, which contained a noticeably decent quantity of crab in them. However, the stuffed potato skins and stuffed, fried jalapenos were simply ordinary and the fish fingers were dire, with soggy batter and slightly under cooked fish inside.

For our main courses, we tried the New Yorker burger and the hickory smoked lamb rack. The lamb rack was pretty good, with tender meat dressed in Southern, sweet and smokey flavours that were full but not over done. It came accompanied with a mound of sweet potato fries, which were excellent. The burger, although not awful, was not impressive either. The patty seemed to be inconsistently cooked, and the other ingredients were not sufficiently high-quality enough to make up for this.

We also tried the selection of five ketchups, being a signature of the restaurant, that were brought to us (on request, but at no extra cost). They were laid out in a row, ranging from sweet to spicy, with maple, barbecue, curry, Louisiana-style and spicy. They didn’t meet our expectations either, and in most cases tasted straight out of the bottle with a little added extra, although the waiter assured us they were freshly made.

Ketchup is not a bad shot for those craving American-novelty fare, but the skills and quality of food did not overwhelmingly inspire us to return.

The bill (for two)
1x fish sampler platter Dhs83
1x New Yorker burger Dhs84
1x hickory lamb rack Dhs79
2x mocktails Dhs42
1x large water Dhs18
Total (excluding service) Dhs306