Is this Abu Dhabi's best brunch?


Is this Abu Dhabis best brunch?
The seafood bazaar

Published: Wed 12 Jun 2019, 2:59 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 Jun 2019, 2:41 PM

WHO SAID DUBAI was the brunch capital of the world? Just because the Friday meal is most associated with the more northern Emirate, doesn't dictate the city serves up the best. Okay, DXB is obviously no slouch when it comes to an all-you-can-eat and drink do, but we believe The Market Brunch held at Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Rotana is right up there. Why? Simple: its size and the display of fresh ingredients. Spanning two of the hotel's restaurants (Sim Sim and Si) plus extra BBQ stations, drinks points, a catch-of-the-day seafood bazaar and even an actual produce stall, the sheer scale, quality and variety of cuisine is staggering.
It was a seasonably warm afternoon when we made our way down to the property for a 1pm start. The in-house musical duo had just struck up a few chords and the usual waves of guests were pouring in, each group being escorted to its table by a member of staff. Beverage orders were rattled off before anyone had taken their places. Almost as soon as the seating plan had been worked out, people were off to explore the Pangaea of world cuisines. We followed the crowd.
The overwhelming impression, when faced with the various counters, was the establishment's appreciation for natural, up-to-the-minute stock. Not only were all the cooked items seemingly produced on the spot, the raw selections including the fish and vegetables looked as if they'd just come in from the sea and garden respectively.
We began, as usual, nosing around the Asian quarter. A few crispy duck pancakes slathered in Hoisin Sauce and as many veg and chicken dim sum as the plate could hold formed our starter. Expertly rolled by a dedicated chef, the duck was as crispy and tender as we could have desired. The dim sum were a cut above normal buffet fare, perhaps because we were in there first? Although, we saw the bamboo steamer regularly replenished, so are inclined to believe everyone had the same authentic-tasting experience.
Next up, the iced seafood bar was too tempting to ignore. Asking one of the attendants what they would recommend: half a lobster, a handful of jumbo shrimp and some sea bream were soon loaded up and we made our way to the outdoor grill. There a chef asks for your marinade preference and gives you a ticket. Keeping the stub in hand, our selection soon made its way back to our table having been basted in garlic butter and licked with flames. We always say there's nothing quite like a decent seafood barbeque and this example was stunning.
After another mosey on through the restaurant, where we picked up our traditional "trolley-dash" course consisting of the wholly unnatural combination of some butter chicken, grilled lamb chops, beetroot salad and a Yorkshire Pudding, it was time for dessert. What a revelation. Who knew the beauty of carrot cake could be enhanced with Umm Ali? That's the appeal of a stellar brunch, we suppose.
. What: The Market Brunch, returning in September 2019 
. Where: Saadiyat Rotana, Abu Dhabi
. Best dish: Seafood BBQ
. Price: From Dhs335 

By David Light

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Fresh produce
Fresh produce
On the grill
On the grill
Shrimp surprise
Shrimp surprise

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