Caramel

I love my Uncle. In more ways than one, he is one of the first people to influence my pallet.

He grew up in a town called Ain Al Saydeh in one of the low mountains of Lebanon. During his early days, everything was done by hand and according to tradition.

Everything was seasonal. Peaches were eaten during summer, chestnuts in winter and if they were lucky the figs, the really good golden figs, would last until September.

When it comes to food, some people may call him difficult or finicky but I don’t see it that way. He has tasted food before mass production and before organic was a trend, when it actually was the norm.

When you’ve tasted that, why settle for something less? I’ll always praise him for wanting the best, the best of not necessarily the most expensive, not lobster, not oyster but jut the best tomato, the best cut of meat or the best nectarine.

Apart from his passion for food, my uncle has a knack for quotes. Any situation that arises is a chance for him to dispel his wisdom through a quote or poetry, which I love.

After having dinner at Caramel, some of my favorite quotes of his resonated with me.

“Jack of all trades, but a master of none.”

Being a successful restaurant that offers an international cuisine may be one of the hardest things to master. Recipes can be copied, distributed and implemented but you always know that something is lacking; the know-how that only comes from a mother or a culture.

I do commend Caramel for offering such a wide variety of food.

For starters we have spicy tuna rolls, Chinese chicken salad and crispy eggplant. The eggplant is battered, deep-fried and doused in the thickest sauce possible. Is there even eggplant left in this dish I ask myself?

Pull back and let the eggplant shine through, roast it on the grill, drizzle some pomegranate sauce with a touch of garlic and you’re golden.

Of the three choices the Chinese chicken salad is the most preferred, light and fresh.

For mains we have braised hammour, petite fillet and marinated half chicken. The petite fillet is served in three thin pieces cooked to medium well. I would have preferred one large piece where I can really enjoy the center of the steak.

As for dessert we have pumpkin cheesecake and dark chocolate fondant. Contrary to my dinner guests, I really like the cheesecake, it’s light and fluffy and reminds me of Thanks Giving. As for the dark chocolate fondant, melted chocolate, how can you go wrong with that?

I always like recommending something at the end of my reviews, not as a restaurant owner, not as a chef and not as a critic but just as a paying customer.

I have noticed that several things on the menu are fried, cheese filled, or heavily sauce drenched. Scale back, go for something fresher, lighter and more contemporary. They may say their food is comfort food but there is something called dated comfort food.

“Live and Let Live”

One of my favorite quotes from my uncle is “live and let live”. No matter where you’re from, what religion you are, what culture of beliefs you hold I respect that them and I wouldn’t try to change them.

I may be one of the most liberal people you can meet. I am all for basic freedoms of expression.

I grew up in Saudi Arabia which ment I was required to wear a black abaya when I was in public. With respect to their culture I did, and never nagged about it for I was a guest in their country.

But to this day when someone enforces a dress code on me, its something that I can’t and wont accept because it’s a basic freedom that I enjoy expressing.

Keeping that in mind, I do have to make a comment about the uniforms for the beautiful  Caramel hostesses. They’re short, low cut and have a slit up to there, is that a bit much? I always hear my guy friends talking about the Okku hostesses, statuesque and dressed in long elegant black dresses. Just something to think about elegance trumps everything and is truly remembered.

“Lets do the Twist”

Though a man in the later part of his life, my uncle is usually the star on the dance floor. As a teen in the 60s no one can do the twist quite like he does.

I love the music at Caramel! While we were having dinner, the DJ was playing some of my favorite old school Hip Hop songs. Song after song I would be taken back to my teen years, in a house party giggling with my girl friends.  So thank you for the beautiful memories.

“Yalla min Shoufkon” {Alright, we’ll see you in Arabic}

Caramel is perfectly located at the heart of DIFC, I would return for the beautiful setting and lovely music, not so much for the food, but hey, everyone has their strengths in life!

THE DETAILS

LOCATION DIFC

OPENING HRS. Sun-Thu 11-2 Fri-Sat 7-2 

CUISINE  International

PRICE PER COUPLE AED 600

TELEPHONE # 04 425 6677

 

THE FORK-O-METER
Old School R&B Spot

 

 

 

 

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    1. Raki Phillips

      Spot ON!!!

    2. Hiba Zarour

      Is that a tiny smiley face right at the bottom of your page?? :)))

      Love the quotes and the pictures are super.

      Keep up the fantastic reviews!!!!

      Love u Baloota xxx

      • Fork It Over Dubai

        Yes it is, I would like to say that its from me, but it’s there by default :p

        Thanks for your comment hibz!!!

        xx

    3. Nadim Haddad

      Marvelous article on caramel perfect presentation on things
      You heard about.
      But you didn’t live with
      I ‘m very proud of your success in this new field
      Love you
      Uncle nadim

    4. Najat Zarour

      Fascinating comparison and well put together. Your uncle is one of a kind and sure he made a difference in your food selections and the favorites at the table. I agree with you that the atmosphere is great at Caramel,but I love their mini hamburgers and their shrimp salads. Try these two items next time u visit. Love you Tala and appreciate your enthusiasmNajat

      • Fork It Over Dubai

        Thank you for your comment Najat, I agree he is truly one of a kind! I love it when people give me tips, I will try them both next time.

        Miss u

        xxxx

    5. mario bin georges bin amin al-haddad

      Dearest Tala,
      Enjoyed reading your post. Your uncle is not difficult at all!; he is just a unique blend of the haddad and ayash clans!
      Love your work.