Erth Abu Dhabi review: Michelin-starred restaurant champions Emirati cuisine

Delicate spices and locally sourced produce shine on this fusion menu

Erth in Abu Dhabi: What to expect at the Michelin-starred restaurant

Erth in Abu Dhabi: What to expect at the Michelin-starred restaurant
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In December, the second edition of Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi added a fourth restaurant to its stellar list. Erth joined 99 Sushi, Hakkasan and Talea by Antonio Guida, as one-Michelin-starred restaurants, opening up its Emirati-inspired cuisine for resident foodies and jet-setting gastrotourists alike.

The story behind Erth

Located within Al Hosn compound in Abu Dhabi, Erth refers both to the Arabic term for legacy and the planet we call home. Its etymology says a lot about the restaurant's journey so far. Championing oft-overlooked Emirati cuisine forms a fundamental part of its legacy.

As The National noted in a review conducted pre-Michelin status, dining at Erth “feels like reading a love letter to the UAE”.

Being in a historical district adds to the venue's cultural charm, and the interior, too, is outfitted with local items – ceramic plates and vases from a studio on Saadiyat Island; a stone bar carved from the rocks of Jebel Hafeet; tables and chairs made by an Emirati designer.

Erth manifested its legacy-building potential when it became the first and only Emirati restaurant with a Michelin star. The Guide noted that Emirati cuisine is a “best-kept secret”.

Stellar status aside, the team is proud that Erth sources 100 per cent of its ingredients from local suppliers. Head chef Debi Prasad Rath tells The National that the restaurant's ethos is simple: “local and traditional with a modern twist."

What's on the Michelin-starred menu?

Given its love of local, the menu is seasonal. My meal started with a beetroot and chami salad, which I was apprehensive about because I'm not a big fan of the root vegetable with its earthy flavour profile. The dish uses three varieties of beetroot, mainly to play with colour, an aesthetic detail that pays off immediately as it looks delicious and inviting. Co-starring in the cold starter is chami, traditional Emirati cheese made of laban or buttermilk, which shares similarities with cottage cheese.

I finish the whole plate, devouring the chopped beets one by one, to my surprise. The earthy flavour was masked in this salad with a light and slightly sweet vinaigrette, while the cheese adds a savoury depth. The accompanying beetroot sorbet provides another sensory stimulus because of its cool temperature, as well as being a testament of chef Rath's delicate touch, which is a common theme throughout the meal.

My next dish embodies fusion at its finest. The ravioli with slow-cooked lamb filling is served in a creamy emulsion sauce. The light seasoning makes the ingredients stand out. The pasta is cooked perfectly, and the creamy sauce blends well with the subdued flavour of the lamb filling. For those who want to cut through the richness, request a squeeze of lemon.

Rice is also on the cards, waking up my South-East Asian sensibilities. The braised lamb machboos features meat with falling-off-the-bone goodness, sitting on top of fragrant Emirati-spiced rice. Again, the soft use of spices is noteworthy, especially considering how food from this region has a reputation for being heavy on the seasoning.

The fish en papillote offers hammour cooked in parchment paper with aromatic herbs and heirloom carrots. This dish crystallises the restaurant's respect for quality ingredients. The hammour is fresh and juicy, and the carrots are perfectly crisp and tender. Thankfully, this one comes with a lemon wedge for additional acidity.

Chami cheese makes a return during dessert, now in the form of panna cotta. There are hints of mango, raspberry and passion fruit, all topped with a scoop of strawberry ice cream.

It sounds rich, but the flavours meld harmoniously with the acidic notes of berry, ensuring it's not too sweet. Tiny mango pearls make for a charming addition to the plate, and the ice cream and wafer tuile take me back to my childhood.

Overall, Rath manages to present elevated Emirati cuisine with humility and grace. Erth does not hide behind the veil of fragrant cardamom seeds, nor does it bury itself in the aromatic might of cinnamon sticks.

The spices are kept mellow so the locally sourced star ingredients can shine on their own – which might well be the formula for forging an unambiguous legacy.

Updated: March 15, 2024, 6:02 PM