Brunching out in Abu Dhabi
Brunch is something of an institution in Abu Dhabi. Whether its families out for a pleasant meal or young expats recovering from Thursday night’s excesses, Friday brunch is a pursuit that seems to get the whole city eating. Just about every outlet in the UAE capital has an unbeatable offer from the Rolls Royce version to simpler, hearty fare. What they all have in common is the opportunity to eat and drink as much as you choose, linger as long as you like and at the end of the day not worry (too much) about the bill. Oh, and you won’t be needing an evening meal… CD Traveller gives you the lowdown on ten top brunch experiences
Brunchers at Al Fanar – the capital’s only revolving restaurant which in Arabic means a lighthouse that guides ships safely to the shore – are treated to a superior buffet. Once you’ve wiped your plate clean, there’s a tantalising selection of sweet treats. As well as the elegant international food, Al Fanar also serves up a fabulous ambience – entertainment comes courtesy of a live band while the rooftop makes a 360-degree rotation during the course of brunch allowing you to take in breathtaking views of the city and corniche. A word of warning; avoid overdoing it with alcohol. If you’re tipsy, you’ll have a tough time navigating back to the table after a bathroom break and chances are you’ll find the table has moved. Le Royal Meridien (02 695 0583).
If you can’t get into the glutinous brunching spirit, La Brasserie is in all likelihood your best bet as in addition to the buffet, brunch here works on a la carte basis. Essentially the enjoyable food and easy going atmosphere add up to make La Brasserie a good, solid brunching option that’s well worth checking out. Le Meridien Abu Dhabi (02 644 6666).
The Novotel’s first floor all day dining outlet provides a bright, casual space in which to enjoy some perfectly adequate fodder. Rather than opting for the everything-but- the- kitchen- sink-style qualities of others, Le Jardin chooses to do a few things very well. It’s a great, affordable option for lunch with friends or to peruse the week-end papers, but perhaps not one for those looking for a serious indulgence. Novotel Hotel (02 633 3555).
Brunch at Ally Pally’s finest is one of the cheapest in town. A three hour waist band threatening food fest will set you back roughly seven quid (excluding drinks). Food here is never going to set the culinary world alight but it’s fairly decent and given the cheap as chips price, what did you expect? Service is affable and friendly and it’s a good option if fussy children are in tow as kids get a 50 per cent discount off the already low bill. Al Ain Palace Hotel (02 679 4777).
There are many glories to Abu Dhabi. A stroll along the corniche, soaking up the sun’s rays at a beach club… but brunch at Rosebuds is equally something of a marvel. Brunchers benefit from quantity and quality. Pick up a plate and pile it high with imaginative and delicious Emirati dishes or stick to staples such as salads, carving station meats, fish, rice and oodles of noodles. Of course you must end with a selection of syrupy sweets because you’re not fulfilling buffet rules if you don’t have dessert. Children are entertained over in the kids corner; face painting and clowns will keep them amused until home time. When you’ve all had your fill, work off the calories consumed by marching around the mall – conveniently located next door. Rosebuds, Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers (02 644 3000).
Cash to splash? Blow it on brunch at Le Vendome located in the grandiose Emirates Palace; Abu Dhabi’s equivalent of the Burj – only with a touch more class. It can be costly (but does include champagne) and you’ll have to dress smartly, but it’s a great way to while away an afternoon in palatial surroundings – read pink marbled floors and gold leafed ceilings – and the closest that most of mere mortals will ever get to entering and eating in a real palace. It’s an international buffet with a special emphasis on seafood – not great then for veggies (although on the flip side it does mean more room for the decadent desserts). So go on, spoil yourselves; just don’t expect to eat again that day. Le Vendome Brasserie, Emirates Palace (02 690 7074).
PJ O Reilly’s
PJ O Reilly’s Friday brunch is arguably the liveliest brunch in town. It begins with a complimentary pint of beer and degenerates from there, meaning if you’re looking for a highly civilised brunch affair, best look elsewhere. 2pm heralds the arrival of an excellent acoustic singer and – weather permitting – you can sit outside and soak up the sun and views of the Le Royal Meridien’s plush pool and gardens. Hugely recommended. Le Royal Meridien (02 695 0583).
Rise and Shine
Flavour’s feast is a family friendly one – something reflected in the prices (children under 11 eat for half price while children under five can feed their faces for free). Videos will keep Abu Dhabi’s ankle biters amused, entertained and more importantly occupied while their parents will no doubt appreciate the pianist tinkering on the ivories. Food here isn’t of the gourmet variety but it is a good value family outing, where you get exactly what you pay for. You can’t say fairer than that. Flavours, Sheraton Abu Dhabi (02 697 0262.) Brunch served 12.30-3.30pm.
Selections offers a bubbly brunch at affordable (for Abu Dhabi) prices. But note that owing to the free flowing drink, it’s a dining destination for adults and not exactly ideal for families. Of course, it’s not all about the alcohol; food is fine, service perfectly adequate and the spectacular views – of the marina and luxurious Emirates Palace – unrivalled. InterContinental (02 666 6888). Brunch served 12.30-4pm.
This welcoming buffet offers something for everyone – from salads and sushi to soups. Typical Arabic fare is juxtaposed alongside faithful renditions of predictable Western dishes. Dessert, however, is the real standout at this modern and simply designed restaurant. The laden sweets table is sensational and boasts a bountiful selection of intricately prepared cakes, tarts, fruit flans, chocolate treats and honeyed piles of assorted baklavas. Other attractions? Children are diverted by a plethora of games and there’s an excellent live band on hand too. Attentive and courteous service only adds to La Veranda’s charm. Sheraton Khalidiya (02 666 6220).