Cafe review: Society Abu Dhabi, Mamsha Al Saadiyat
We live in a Society…
Remember that kid at school that was good at everything — beloved by teachers and pupils, just a joy to be around? That’s Saadiyat Island. It’s sporty (just check out the stunning Saadiyat Beach Golf Club); popular and just heartbreakingly handsome (it was recently awarded the Middle East’s Best Beach destination for the 11th year running); it’s great with animals (wild dolphins, turtles, and gazelle); it’s broodingly deep and cultural (see the present and future galleries and museums of the cultural district) and boy oh boy can it cook.
The foodie strip of Mamsha Al Saadiyat features gastronomic influence from practically every culinary quarter of the globe, and in accordance with the unofficial Abu Dhabi coffee constitution, the cafe culture is served in a 31-ounce ‘trenta’ jumbo mug.
Society was a late addition to the Mamsha strip, an import from that fertile seedbed of home-grown craft concepts, Dubai’s Jumeirah. And if the OG cafe is a stone’s through from the beach, this Saadiyat stronghold is a stone’s drop. The lapiz island sea is in point-blank vicinity, and its eye-shot view gives the alfresco seating a fairytale backstory.
It’s midday, the unhindered sun is directly overhead and we’re in the mood for something light but filling; from somewhere between the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Our waitress is kind and unflappable, and wading through our indecision with an experienced stride she calmly recommends a pepperoni flatbread (Dhs62). “Is it spicy though? We really fancy something spicy” Off the back of assurances that it is indeed spicy, we lock in the recommendation and order a sugary peach ice tea to go with it.
Whilst waiting for the food, we wander through the restaurant interior — like its Dubai sister, it shares a passion for creative curve and trim applications of the Art Deco design palette. It’s a beautiful, expansive cafe and we’re told, particularly prized for its breakfast menu — though, in fairness, that is another one of the core tenets of the unofficial Abu Dhabi coffee constitution.
Back at the table the flatbread, basically the bungalow of the pizza world, is waiting for us. It’s characterised by rustic bready tones, the faint hint of exotic spice in the meaty topping (cumin? Anise?), but the deliberate lack of fluffy depth to the base, means that for us, this still-majestic mouthful, probably plays second fiddle to other species pizza in the neighbourhood.
The peach ice tea, which entered the order as a wild card, is the real rave discovery. It’s a rabbit hole infusion of fruity nectar and herbal tea, perfect sipping fodder for a warm and sunny day (and fortunately, they do get a few of those on Saadiyat Island).
Verdict: Society is a worthy addition to the Mamsha clan on Saadiyat. We’ll certainly be back to explore more of the menu, and to reorder the peach ice tea.
Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, 8pm to 11pm (midnight on Friday and Saturday). @societyuae