THE MARKET BRUNCH
Does higher price mean higher quality at this new Friday feast?
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