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SAL Saadiyat Review: Beach chic meets Mediterranean eats

The Burj Al Arab stalwart is now open in the capital.

Regular patrons of Burj Al Arab are well aware that the luxurious poolside lounging at SAL is unmatched. With its private cabanas, a menu influenced by Southern Mediterranean flavours and a sprawling 100-meter infinity pool deck, SAL has solidified its reputation as the pinnacle of opulence. Now, this acclaimed restaurant and beach club has set sail from the Burj and washed ashore at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, bringing a touch of Capri chic to the capital.

The restaurant resembles a mini version of the mirrored Maraya Concert Hall in AlUla. A cube of reflective mirrored panels looks somewhat futuristic on the Saadiyat shoreline, but once inside, we discover a charming beachfront retreat manned by a team of affable staff. Wooden panelling, a ceiling of hanging rope, pretty blue blooms and turquoise glassware offer a nautical feeling. The restaurant space may be slightly bigger than its Dubai counterpart, but the offering is identical.

SAL Saadiyat

If food is your forte, then SAL Saadiyat has it all. Chef Vincenzo Nigro’s menu of Mediterranean marvels offers pasta, pizza, proteins and tempting tapas. We begin with the moreish Manchego Croquetas (AED 40), which are crisp, golden and oozing with melted Manchego. However, the Prawns (AED 120) cooked in roasted tomato sauce with feta cheese and capsicum steal the show. The plump prawns remain delicate while swimming in a rich and robust sauce that brings the flavours of the sun-kissed vegetables to the fore. 

SAL’s signature Truffle Pizza (AED 235) is a tempting treat. The thin and crispy base is slathered with a decadent truffle sauce, mozzarella, creamy fior di latte and a generous dusting of truffle shavings. It may be expensive, but it’s worth it. 

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While fish and meat dominate the main course options, do not leave SAL Saadiyat without ordering the King Crab and Homemade Trenette Pasta (AED 230). The dish utilises pesto made with cashews rather than pine nuts to coat the pasta strands. It’s a perfect plate topped with sweet and tender crab meat, tomatoes and espelette chilli. Elsewhere, the Chicken Empanadas (AED 170) make quite the impression, resembling a calzone rather than the Spanish staple. The pastry acts as a device to lock in the flavours of the herbs and lemon, while keeping the meat moist and instilling it with a zesty flavour. It’s a resounding success prepared ceremoniously at the table as the chicken is incarcerated from its pastry prison.

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Ordering dessert before hitting the pool may be unwise, but that’s exactly what we do. The Mille-Feuille (AED 40) with pecan offers layers of flaky pastry bound together by vanilla cream, resulting in a messy yet memorable finale.

Away from the restaurant lies a small adults-only pool flanked by fringed parasols and comfortable cabanas that back onto the Saadiyat shoreline. A wooden boardwalk leads to an untouched swathe of golden sand and turquoise waters that is unmarred by construction and could easily be mistaken for the Caribbean. An ambient soundtrack sets the tone for a sun-kissed experience, and there’s even a Spotify playlist so you can relive your beach day at home.

SAL Saadiyat Island

Perched upon the most desirable stretch of sand in the emirates, SAL Saadiyat brings laidback luxury to Abu Dhabi and offers a space where gourmands can soak up the uninterrupted water views and dig into a marvellous Mediterranean-inspired menu. If you cannot make it to Mykonos or Saint-Tropez this summer, SAL Saadiyat is the perfect substitute.

SAL Saadiyat Island is open daily from 12.30pm to 11.30pm. 

GO: Visit www.jumeirah.com for more information. 

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publication, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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