Argentinian flair makes its mark on Saadiyat…

Argentinian cuisine is somewhat under-served in Abu Dhabi, with few venues delivering the level of South American flair we pine for on a Saturday night. That was until Maté opened its doors in Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi.

The Saadiyat spot offers guests a large space to enjoy authentic dishes from Argentina, fused with a Lebanese twist. Split over two floors, the upper level is home to a lounge area and bar with a huge wine cellar, while downstairs guests are greeted with an open wood fire kitchen blazing away and tables sat under prints of Argentinian public figures.

The meal starts strong with starters arriving quick to the table, served piping hot. It’s difficult to choose which of the empanadas (Dhs35 per pc) are better, so we recommend you order both the beef and the cheese. The golden-brown pasties are crunchy and fresh, with just the right about on pastry. Aged cheddar, oregano and caramelised onion make up the meat-free option, while wagyu beef, raisins and olives fill the other.

We also try the asado croquetas (Dhs65), which comes as four pieces. Gone within two bites, each one is beautifully flavourful and bursting with juicy, slow-cooked beef, lightly fried and topped with a creamy paprika sauce. They are like golden nuggets of goodness, and we’re seriously tempted to reorder.

Mains include even more meat, although vegetarians have a couple of options to choose from, too. Under strong recommendation from our server, we opt for the costillas al asador (Dhs195 for a half portion, Dhs350 for a full portion). Essentially, it’s short ribs slow cooked on the open fire which should mean for very tender meat. However, after fighting through thick slabs of fat, the meat we did try had nearly all of the moisture sucked from it, making for a soft but less than enjoyable texture.

The entrańa (Dhs175) was a better choice – wagyu inside skirt with a marbling score of six. Served perfectly pink in the middle with a roasted half-garlic on the side, we’d sooner recommend this cut for steak fans.

A selection of traditional desserts is available, but for us the winner was torta balcarce (Dhs70). The sublime combination of dulce de leche, meringue, caramelised walnuts and coconut ice cream ticks all the boxes when it comes to a sweet dish. The right amount of creamy, crunchy and sweet makes it an ideal way to finish the meal.

Verdict: Representing a true taste of Argentina, Maté is a recipe for success in Abu Dhabi.

Maté, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, Sadiyaat Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 5pm to 1.30am. Tel: (0)54 581 2576. @parkhyattad