REVIEW: Butcher & Still
“You can get a long way with a smile,” Al Capone famously once said. “But you can get a lot farther with a smile and a gun.” It seems that Butchers & Still, a 1920s-to-1940s-style restaurant in the Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, has taken his advice – although maybe not quite in the way he intended. The friendly staff are more than happy to give you a full tour of the restaurant, which is full of authentic memorabilia from the prohibition era – weaponry included.
Bullet casings are placed in the grouting between the bathroom tiles, and there’s a chandelier in the private dining area made from gun parts. Even the walls are adorned with genuine framed newspaper cuttings from the time, detailing robberies, heists and arrests. Each part of the décor has been so painstakingly thought out that it’s not just a simple nod to a theme, it’s practically a miniature museum.
But the Boardwalk Empire-style interior isn’t the only thing that got us talking: the food is also a worthy conversation piece. We started with the crab-stuffed Portobello mushroom (AED75), which was served with parsley, creole aioli and breadcrumbs. It’s a slightly heavy way to begin a meal but the strong flavour of the crab was beautifully offset by the smooth, earthy taste of the mushroom. We also tried the signature baked petit escargot (AED70), with lemon garlic butter, puff pastry and cauliflower, which was buttery without being too oily.
Of course, a gangster always wants their pound of flesh, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Butchers & Still offers a masterclass in red meat. You can tell straight away that the cuts are excellent by the fact that the menu has a steak temperature guide that ranges from “blue” to “well done” – no chef would even dare mention the fact they can cook your steak blue if the meat isn’t the very best quality.
We opted for the boneless signature house favourite filet (AED300) served medium. The 255 grams of tender cut prime Angus beef were cooked to precision – nice and charred on the outside, and so juicy on the inside that we barely needed a steak knife to cut it. Make sure you leave room for sides, because they’re just as special as the main dishes. The creamed spinach (AED50) and truffle fries with Béarnaise sauce (AED55) are worth a return visit alone.
Be warned – this restaurant doesn’t do things on a small scale, so finishing with a light dessert isn’t an option. We finished with the New York style cheesecake (AED65), which was a massive slab of smooth vanilla cream cheese with a rich biscuit base, served with berries. It was delicious, but so big that even two of us could barely make a dent in it.
If the portion size of the dessert is the only thing that we can nit-pick, it says a lot about how much we enjoyed this restaurant. It’s as close to flawless as it gets, with a bustling atmosphere that seems to buck the trend of Abu Dhabi’s usually quiet dining scene. But then, just like the era from which it takes its theme, this is a place where the rules don’t apply.
Three dishes to try
The Butcher Block
Order a selection of the chef’s best cuts of meat, perfect if you want to try a bit of everything. Make sure you take some friends with you, though, because finishing it is a four-man job.
Truffle Fries with Béarnaise Sauce
Crispy chips with a fluffy centre covered in cheese – it’s as good as it sounds. Make it extra-rich by dunking them in the Béarnaise sauce.
“Tribune Tower” Chocolate Cake
The Tribune Tower was built in Chicago in 1925 in the height of the prohibition. The tower has 34 floors so, you guessed it, the cake has 34 layers. It’s an absolute beast of a dessert.
Where: Butcher & Still, Four Seasons Abu Dhabi
Contact: +971 2 333 2700, website