Say goodbye to unicorn croissants, pancakes and noodles – these meals are proof the dark side is lighting up the culinary world in the UAE capital, thanks to a little bit of squid ink or activated charcoal

01) Black pepperoni pizza at Waterlemon

Waterlemon is a neat café situated in Al Bateen’s new marina area and they’ve also embraced the black food movement – they serve black bread rolls and a black-base pizza, which is made from ground roasted root vegetables and comes with rocket and pepperoni slices.
Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 11.30pm, Dhs65. Tel: (02) 6355050. Taxi: Al Bateen.,

02) Black pancakes at No.FiftySeven

It’s no surprise that the Emirati owners behind hip Al Bateen café No.FiftySeven (and secret supper club The Dinner Club By No.57) would be at the forefront of the black food scene in the capital. Their activated charcoal black pancakes are made with ricotta cheese and served with butter, blueberries, blackberries and fresh cream. If you want a black main dish as well as a dessert, they also serve a black bagel with fried egg, turkey ham, avocado, alfafa sprouts and a fruity, spicy Sriracha mayo.
Al Marasy Apartments, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 10.30pm, price on request. Tel: (02) 3048148. Taxi: Al Marasy Apartments, Al Bateen Marina.

03) Black calamari paella at Bravo

Black paellas and risottos have long been a fixture on menus way before hipsters started scoffing charcoal ice-creams and bagels, and the paella at Spanish tapas outlet Bravo gets its colour thanks to a dose of squid ink and is served with calamari, prawns and mussels, the latter’s shells complementing the dark rice perfectly. It’s a dish popular in Valencia and Catalonia.
Sheraton Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, daily 6pm to 12.30am, Dhs134. Tel: (02) 6773333. Taxi: Corniche Hospital.

04 Black ink linguine at Afya

Afya, which you’ll find in Traders Hotel, really likes black food (it’s the only outlet on our list to serve two dark dishes) and its black squid ink linguine is cooked with fresh seasonal vegetables, garlic and banana shallots flavoured in a white sauce. It’s finished off with a lemon confit and some Scottish smoked salmon.
Traders Hotel, Bain Al Jessrain, Abu Dhabi, daily 6am to midnight, Dhs65. Tel: (02) 5098555. Taxi: Traders Hotel.

05) Slim Shady at Kold Press Juice Ko

The Slim Shady by online juice company Kold Press Juice Ko gets its goth-esque colour thanks to the presence of activated charcoal. The cold-pressed juice tastes like a lemonade and its other health boosting ingredients include fresh lemon, bee pollen and organic agave syrup. It costs Dhs40 a bottle.

06) Activated charcoal ice-cream at Scoop

Scoop is a pop-up food truck from the ladies behind No.Fifty Seven, and they serve an activated charcoal lemonade ice cream in a black cone. Even better, they also serve the ice cream in an activated charcoal macaroon sandwich. The latter is What’s On approved – we tried it when their truck was at Warehouse421 back in May.

07) Black crab burger at Catch

There are plenty of places to grab a black beef burger in the UAE, but there’s not many that serve one filled with juicy crab. Catch’s really is one of a kind – the bun is made using black squid ink and the patty is complemented with an avocado tartare and chili mayo. A side portion of banana fries seals the deal.
Catch, Nation Riviera Beach Club, Al Khalidiyah, Abu Dhabi, daily noon to midnight restaurant, daily 3pm to 3am rooftop lounge, Dhs89. Tel: (02) 6110909. Taxi: Nation Riviera Beach Club on the Corniche.

08) Tuna burger at Appaloosa

The squid ink bun might be well and truly on the dark side, but the patty is actually made of yellow fin tuna from Mauritius. It’s chargrilled and seasoned with sesame, lemon, wasabi mayo, radish, gem lettuce and heirloom tomatoes.
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Al Forsan International Sports Resort, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, Dhs60. Tel: (02) 2014000. Taxi: Al Forsan Sports Resort.

09) Wagyu burger at Afya

The all-day-dining outlet in Traders Hotel down by the Creek serves a Wagyu burger with a bun made from activated charcoal, along with a tomato marmalade, tomatoes, red onions and a peri peri mayo. On the side you’ll find a portion of fries with Cajun spices.
Traders Hotel, Bain Al Jessrain, Abu Dhabi, daily 6am to midnight, Dhs70. Tel: (02) 5098555. Taxi: Traders Hotel.

10) Black Menu at Salt

Salt, the What’s On Award-winning food truck concept that you can find at Mother Of The Nation Park, recently launched a pop-up at Dubai Design District selling a Salt Black Menu, which featured blackened beef patties, black burgers and fries, and best of all black ice-cream. And the good news is some of these black dishes have landed in the capital – a black burger and black fries are now available at the park, and also at the branch in Al Ain.

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