Thursday evening brunches have long been a fixture on the Dubai dining scene and a fitting way to kick-start the weekend with an unlimited selection of the finest food and beverages. Why Thursday though?
As much as we adore a good Friday brunch, the weekly ceremony dedicated to all things food generally means losing an entire day of your weekend in the process. Once you factor in getting ready, the brunch itself and the associated after parties. A Thursday evening brunch provides the perfect balance, offering all the food and drink you can manage, while still retaining much of your precious weekend.
Abu Dhabi has been quite late to the evening brunch scene with only a handful of restaurants in the capital offering them. Up until last week, we could only think of four – Market Kitchen, BOA, Caramel and Barfly – but things are set to change with the launch of The Foundry’s ‘Thursday Steak Feast.’ An unlimited offering of the finest oysters, flame licked steaks and much (much) more, all served directly to the table.
Although this new promotion from the Southern Sun Hotel hasn’t been labelled as an evening brunch, guests will be left with little doubt that this is what it is. Yet what sets The Foundry apart from its competitors, is its strategic positioning as a fine dining evening brunch offering outstanding value for money.
With The Foundry’s ‘Raising The Steaks‘ Friday brunch easily sliding into our top brunches in the capital, we were intrigued to see how this Thursday evening event would differentiate from the restaurants hugely popular Friday offering. While both revolve around the signature cuts of meat which rightly take centre stage, the Thursday evening affair is more refined and a terrific way to ease you into the weekend.
Returning to The Foundry the space is smaller than we remember. With the live stations and brunch crowd removed the restaurant feels more intimate, with it’s darkened corners and striking copper colour scheme. The Foundry still remains one of our favourite interiors in the capital due to the seating configurations, providing diners the opportunity to dine on one of three floating ‘islands’ (where the tables resemble open water lilies), at a high vantage point atop the cheese room or in the more formal dining area, where cylindrical doors can be closed to provide guests within their own private ‘pods.’ No matter which you select there’s no escaping these beautiful interiors which were as much of a talking point at the media launch, as the steaks themselves.
The Thursday Steak Feast offers diners a selection of dishes that can be ordered as many times as you desire. Executive Chef Manish Law knows his clientele well and takes some of the best dishes from the Friday brunch and combines them with some new additions to The Foundry’s expanding repertoire. We begin with the classic bread trolley that navigates the room with a series of freshly baked loaves and a selection of SIX different butters (sun dried tomato, olive, paprika, garlic, curry and smoked bacon), followed by Freshly Shucked Oysters served on a slate with lemons, tabasco sauce and a shallot vinegar. Oysters have long been a steakhouse staple and appear to be the most popular choice in the room, though we’re far more taken with the Beef Carpaccio. The thinly sliced raw Wagyu beef was one of our favourite item from the brunch and impresses again, served with a topping of rocket and parmesan shavings.
Other tasting plates include a classic Caesar Salad with anchovy dressing and herb croutons, a wonderfully crisp Seafood Fritto Misto with a kaffir lime tartar and finally, Butternut Squash Creme with white truffle oil. Each dish is artistically plated (with special note for the butternut creme) and despite the all-you-can eat nature of this event, it’s unlikely that diners will have the room to order all of these plates.
Being a steakhouse, the meat that has long drawn people to the Foundry and as a champion of fresh produce and top quality ingredients, Chef de Cuisine Shaunne Cordier and his team make quite the impression. Meats are sourced from the finest farms and private butchers across Europe, Australia, USA & South Africa and the quality is evident. The trio of tasting cuts provided for this steak feast are crossbred Tajima Wagyu cube roll, USDA Angus flank steak and a South African Karan Tenderloin. With Southern Sun being a South African branded hotel, we bet you can guess which one was the best?
The steaks really are exceptional, beautifully cooked and delightfully tender, they really are hard to beat and come served with a choice of truffle mash or signature fries, a signature sauce and a selection of salts. At The Foundry they take their steak very seriously and it shows! Sitting with friend and fellow blogger Tim from The Hue’s, his face literally lit up like a child as he tucked into the steak and got a first taste of the immaculate flavours, clearly making a long lasting impression.
For those not looking for steak, a Pan Seared Norwegian Salmon with confit potatoes, and lemon olive oil is also available and for vegetarians there’s Butternut Pumpkin Lasagna, served with sweet potato and balsamic dressed rocket.
The desserts are one of the standouts at the Friday brunch and although the offering is scaled back for Thursday evenings, guests can indulge in a compilation of The Foundry’s signature desserts. Although the portion appears to be small, it transpires to be the ideal amount following everything that has come before and presents a deconstructed red velvet cheesecake, chocolate mudslide and passion fruit cake. It was actually the raspberry sorbet and the Arabic inspired cake that were our favorites, with the Arabic cake having recently won an award at SIAL for its traditional ingredients that include kunafa dough, muhalabiya and a date mousse.
What we appreciated most about The Foundry’s Thursday Steak Feast was the attention to detail and the fact that despite a very reasonable price tag (AED 199++ soft and AED 299++ alcohol) there is no sacrifice in terms of quality and service. In fact we encountered nothing but sheer engagement from the enigmatic team, a stark contrast when compared to other evening brunches in the capital which offer a disservice to diners (the extra charging for water and soft drinks on the alcohol package at Caramel for example). The Foundry boasts an unprecedented quality for the price point and it would appear as if nothing is too much trouble for the team, who worked effortlessly and with near perfect execution throughout.
The Foundry achieved several notable accolades last year, including ‘best steakhouse in Abu Dhabi’ at the FACT dining awards. It’s clear that this steakhouse offers something special but they have stiff competition from the likes of 55th & 5th at The St. Regis Saadiyat and Butcher & Still at The Four Seasons on their hands. Abu Dhabi is an extremely competitive marketplace after all, but with the Thursday evening feast and the already established Raising The Steaks Friday Brunch, we believe they have very little to worry about.
The Foundry’s Thursday Steak Feast runs every Thursday from 7pm – 11pm from the 2nd February:
AED 199++ (soft drinks)
AED 299++ (house beverages)
Location: Southern Sun, Al Mina Street, Tourist Club Area, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Hours: 6am – 10:30am /12pm – 3pm / 7pm – 11pm
Phone: 02 818 4888
We were invited to dine at The Foundry. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.