With the number of brilliant Indian options on the main island, it is little wonder that Kareem’s often flies under the radar. Located in the no-frills Ramada Abu Dhabi Corniche, its subdued location doesn’t do much for its cause either.
Kareem’s unlicensed offering is probably the only brunch in the city that begins before noon. A plus point if you’re eager to get the weekend’s eats started early.
We find the restaurant’s décor veers towards cliché. In an attempt to complement the rich, diverse cuisine, there is a range of shades and colours on display. Blue and pink curtains cut into the turquoise and orange table runners, a channel of changing neon lights runs along the ceiling, while glass jars filled with dried lentils line up on one side of the room.
Thankfully though, that is the extent of the not-so-good news. The food at Kareem’s makes up for the missing personality of the dining room.
On other days, the restaurant serves traditional North Indian fare, but its Friday brunch buffet is a smörgåsbord of all that the country has to offer.
The hot starters include samosas and two types of vadas. It’s the crisp, non-greasy onion bhajis, though, that keep us going back for more. Coated with the right amount of batter, the crunchy bites are golden, tasty and surprisingly light.
The table with the bakery and salad selections can probably be skipped. After all, we’re not here to waste limited stomach space on an assortment of freshly-baked croissants, bean salads and fattoush, are we?
Kareem’s brunch has more than a few Indian breakfast dishes, if that’s what you’re here for. The aloo parathas are generous with the filling and the grease – typical of what you’d find in Punjab.
The chole bhature, another morning staple, is a hearty chickpea stew served with deep-fried bread. Despite the bhatures not being at their puffy best, we enjoy every morsel. Masala omelette, rava upma and idli-sambhar are the other options.
The list of main courses is extensive. If you’re puzzled about where to begin, try the kebabs. There are plenty choices, with our favourite being the chicken tikka option. The dal makhani is a creamy lentil curry that should be mopped up with naan. If you’re after something spicier, the Malabar fish curry with rice is lip-smackingly good.
When it comes to desserts, it is best to stick to the Indian options. The gajar halwa, a carrot pudding, is a lighter version of the treat and a smashing way to end the meal.
The bottom line
A great deal for fans of Indian food.
Dhs69 (Indian beverages). Fri 11.30am-3.30pm. Ramada Abu Dhabi Corniche, Mina Road, Al Zahiyah (02 401 9004).