This place stalag-might be our new favourite breakfast spot…
Abu Dhabi really is a coffee fancier’s paradise. It is in that way, the Melbourne of the Middle East. And whilst Al Bateen is probably the epicentre of that trend, the new waterfront leisure mega project, Al Qana is fast emerging as a challenger.
There’s already a cool crowd of outlets brewing up speciality percolations, with — we’re told — a significant more pours on the way. But today, we’re only making eyes at one of Al Qana’s latest latte artists, Cave.
Despite only having been open for a few months, the venue’s subterranean-style surrounds and audaciously-aesthetic menu items have proven to be powerful Gram magnets. The circulating social media videos courted our interest, and now sitting under the dancing grey roof of Cave, it really has our attention.
It’s late morning on an unremarkable Monday, but the cafe floor is busy. Everyone, including us, has their phones out and are conducting arching sweeps of the horizon, as if performing an enchantment, or conducting a leisurely orchestra. Cave is handsome, at a distance the asymmetrical rocky outcrops look close enough to real stone, and blend seamlessly with the brown and olive green organic tones of the rest of the interior’s scheme.
For today’s breakfast aria, we’ve ordered a guacamole and salmon tostada (Dhs48), a Spanish omelette (Dhs58), and a cheesy brioche (Dhs52). We’ve also ordered a round of jazzy coffee-based drinks and mocktails — the iced dark cave latte (Dhs35) and purple rain (Dhs29).
The fancy tranche of salmon toast comes with a ruffled fillet of smoked salmon and provides a sassy mouthful of complementing perfumes, and a rumour of spice. The cheesy brioche comes gloriously sodden in fondant fromage, it’s a hot beautiful mess and extremely satisfying to chew through. And the Spanish omelette is an impressively faithful recreation of an Iberian classic.
Our drinks are served with the appropriate level of Instagram spectacle. A gentle pour of charcoal coffee into chilled milk conjures a very visual ASMR of swirling dark clouds. The purple rain arrives in that achingly on-trend format that sees a smoke-filled foam bubble sit on top of your beverage. These are, in-part, gimmicks, but they also participate in the favour experience. Particularly the smokey haze on our morning cup of purple rain.
Curiosity draws us to the menu to scan what’s on offer for lunch. We have things to do, but it’s hard to walk away from the troglodytic embrace of this cafe. Cave, known as @cave.tapas has a busy menu of (largely Spanish) sharing dishes on offer. But we decide on a chocolate molten (Dhs32) cake to share instead. Poetry and rapture on a plate. The sort of poster oppulance that started the French revolution.
Verdict: Cave is a beautiful beautiful thing. But there’s more to it than that, there’s substance in them there rocky hills. The menu is boutique and busy with authentic European flavour, presented in gallery-level gilding.
Al Qana, open daily 9am to midnight. @cave.tapas
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