The gastropub is a relatively new term in our culinary vernacular. Coined in 1991 in the UK, the concept combined two things Brits really love in equal measure: good food and a good watering hole.
But when the gastropub arrived, it changed the appetite for casual dining. Out went the stale sarnies and in came seasonal ingredients and refined versions of old favourites as chefs began to innovate for a new era of eating.
On our shores, it has only been in recent years that the trend has started to take flight. One of the restaurants embodying this drive is Hamilton’s Gastropub, located at Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas.
Inside, the dark wood interiors, low-lit lamps and oxidised brass fittings give the place a modern feel, while cosy booths give the familiarity of a good old pub.
To start, my companion and I share the scotch egg (a classic pub snack) and the tuna tartare (not so much). An egg coated in breadcrumbed veal sausage, the scotch egg is the perfect example of the gastropub trend done right. It’s delicious, and the gloriously runny yolk and tangy piccalilli relish means it’s demolished in seconds.
The tuna tartare, served with avocado and a caramelised onion and ponzu sauce, is likewise a great start to the meal, with the umami flavour of the sauce and sweet sharp onions adding the perfect balance to the fatty tuna.
For mains, the braised beef shortrib is so tender, the meat falls off the bone, but I can’t taste the horseradish in the mash and the gravy doesn’t quite deliver enough punch for my taste.
Meanwhile, the Josper-roasted chicken – so-named due to its method of cooking in a Josper oven – is succulent and well-seasoned with a delicious smoky flavour, but the chicken chorizo gravy likewise needs more oomph.
The generous portions mean we’re stuffed, but we rally just in time to share the white chocolate and macadamia cookie skillet. Served with salted caramel ice cream, it’s delivered in a cast iron pot and is perfectly crisp with a gooey middle – yum.
Need to know:
Location: Hamilton’s Gastropub, Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas, Saadiyat Island
We say: Pub grub, but not as you know it
Cost: AED 465 for two
Opening times: Daily 5pm-2am
Contact: 02 697 0000, facebook.com/saadiyatrotanaresort
WORDS Camille Hogg