THE MAR­KET BRUNCH

Does higher price mean higher qual­ity at this new Fri­day feast?

What's On (Abu Dhabi) - - LIFE’S A BEACH -

The first thing you need to know about The Mar­ket Brunch at the new Saadiyat Rotana Re­sort & Vil­las is that you can or­der a whole grilled lob­ster or crab, have it cooked at the out­door grilling sta­tion and de­liv­ered to your ta­ble.

The sec­ond thing you need to know is that all the veg­eta­bles out­side, as well as the jarred and bot­tled items in the Or­ganic Shop, are for sale – so if you for­got to stock up on your fruit and veg be­fore turn­ing up on a Fri­day af­ter­noon, all is not lost.

And the third thing you need to know is that all of the desserts are gen­uinely in­ven­tive and de­li­cious, some­thing that can not very of­ten be said about the cap­i­tal’s buf­fets. Two cakes looked ex­actly like gi­ant Coke bot­tles; an­other was fash­ioned as a gi­ant cookie jar. And the piece of fudge brownie I dipped in their white choco­late foun­tain? Trans­for­ma­tive. Oh, and the carvery. Gi­ant sides of beef, roast chick­ens, racks of lamb, three gi­ant fish broiled head-on, bulbs of gar­lic and per­fectly sea­soned gravy, and lots of it. It’s like Henry the 8th came back to life and said “more meat!”

In fact, this brunch, which launched mere weeks ago in the pic­turesque ho­tel’s Sim Sim restau­rant, could be summed up by “more of ev­ery­thing”.

There were so many spe­cial touches we lost count: two places to get fat, juicy oys­ters – one by the seafood sec­tion and an­other in the VIP area, by the bub­bles, out on the ter­race. Jars of can­dies and choco­lates for the kids – when­ever they want them. Suc­cu­lent soft-shell crab rolls on the sushi bar, along with a live bur­rata sta­tion – not to men­tion a cheese ta­ble with more than a dozen va­ri­eties.

A ded­i­cated pork room – far re­moved from the din­ing area – and well worth the trip for those who are in­clined. Don’t miss the Asian street food sta­tion: the Green Curry Beef was ab­so­lutely de­li­cious. The Pek­ing duck was pretty good, and I wouldn’t give the dim sum sta­tion a miss ei­ther.

There are plen­ti­ful drink op­tions and spe­cial serv­ing sta­tions for more ba­sic pack­ages, and im­pres­sive of­fer­ings on the premium end for the VIPs. There was also a lovely, buzzy vibe in­doors and out, where there were sev­eral live per­form­ers. That is of­ten miss­ing from Abu Dhabi brunches, and I hope The Mar­ket Brunch can hang on the mo­men­tum.

There are a few touches miss­ing. We would have missed the pork room, had we not struck up a chat with the ex­ec­u­tive chef, Thijs Van Rhoon. Our crab and lob­ster were dumped in front of us, and we had to ask sev­eral times for prop­erly sized plates to share. Lemon wedges, fin­ger bowls and ad­di­tional nap­kins would have been a nice touch. This brunch is shorter than most – from 1 to 4pm – and at Dh595 for the VIP pack­age, it’s one of the more ex­pen­sive in the city. But it is worth it.

The Mar­ket Brunch, Sim Sim, Saadiyat Rotana Re­sort & Vil­las, Saadiyat Is­land, Abu Dhabi, Fri 1 to 4pm, Dh335 with soft drinks; Dh165 chil­dren 6 to 11, un­der-fives free. Tel: (02) 697000. Taxi: Saadiyat Rotana Re­sort & Vil­las, Saadiyat Is­land near Saadiyat Beach

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