No trip to Abu Dhabi is complete without a visit to the majestic Emirates Palace. Renowned for its magnificent octagonal atrium and a penchant for all things gold – from the gilded hallways to the gold leaf on the cappuccinos and ice creams – the hotel is the most exquisite in the capital, boasting a reputation for unrivalled luxury and impeccable service.
Receiving an invitation to the media event to launch the 2017 brunch at the palace, we were pleasantly surprised to see how the team at the palace have upped the ante from last year. Situated at Las Brisas in the East Wing of the spacious palace, we would highly recommend grabbing one of the complimentary club cars from reception to transport you to brunch (#FirstWorldProblems), as the walk is a little too far.
The brunch may be described as a casual poolside affair, but this being the Emirates Palace ‘casual’ is a term that’s certainly up for interpretation and it’s best to phone ahead to confirm the dress-code. Having dined at the Palace on a number of occasions (see here, here and here), we’ve always found the setting, food and service to be near-faultless and this brunch is no different. Located poolside, the brunch at Las Brisas (meaning ‘breeze’ in Spanish) is an al fresco affair, featuring wooden tables and cream parasols scattered across a remarkable terrace overlooking gardens, an inviting swimming pool (complete with hammocks and gold mosaics) and the natural sandy bay of the Arabian Gulf, upon which the palace sits.
Brunch begins with bubbles and proves a fitting beverage to sip on while perusing the buffet. Much like the service, the food offering has been tweaked and honed this year to ensure the very best experience for guests. For fans of this specific brunch, there are no drastic changes (your old favourites still remain) but the process appears more refined, with the food now sitting on large blocks of ice to ensure it’s able to withstand the heat of being outside.
In keeping with the location, the food choices revolve around lighter bites and healthier options, with carpaccio, beef tartare and sushi sitting amongst a selection of fresh salads. We note the fact that the salad selection isn’t your standard array of leaves, with the focus being far more exotic, taking in Arabic favourites and some more obscure choices such as the pickled beetroot and caraway.
Brunch at the palace caters to a variety of dietary requirements, with a particularly well-stocked vegetarian section and an appealing live-station for pasta. Yet it’s the BBQ and hot buffet that really take our fancy – from the tandoori and shawarma to the grilled Omani shrimp – offering the perfect style of food for dining al fresco.
Brunch under the shaded palm trees isn’t a bad way to spend a lazy Friday afternoon and with free-flowing beverages (an assortment of bubbles, hops, grapes and blended cocktails) it’s a case of relaxing and slowly exploring the food options over the course of a leisurely afternoon. Entertainment is from live-band The Troublemakers, who keep things up-tempo with their unique renditions of current chart hits and represent more than just ambient background music.
While the Emirates Palace may not necessarily seem like a family-friendly location for brunch, nothing could be further from the truth. The manicured lawns are home to an expansive shaded children’s area resembling a British summer fete, where children can enjoy bubbles, playground equipment, arts and crafts, and a buffet of chicken nuggets, hot dogs, fries and doughnuts. The fully-supervised area proved a real hit with the younger members of team Out & About, as they excitedly crafted bejewelled crowns (well they were at a Palace after all), thus allowing the adults one of the most peaceful brunches we’ve had in some time!
As the afternoon winds down, ensure you don’t miss the desserts sprinkled with gold which we’re pleased to see, managed to beat the heat better than last years display. Amongst the pastries and sweet treats, you’ll find the obligatory brunch chocolate fountain and an ice cream cart which proved very popular given the location.
As we mentioned in last years review: “it’s exceptionally difficult to find fault with the brunch at Las Brisas. The food is exceptional, the atmosphere is relaxed and the service is outstanding.”
If anything, the 2017 season has managed to refine the process and make it even more enjoyable. With al fresco dining season firmly back in the capital we think you should add brunch h at the palace to your Abu Dhabi bucket list.
Location: Emirates Palace, Corniche Road, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook
Hours: 12:30pm – 4pm
Phone: 02 690 7999
We were invited to dine at Las Brisas. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.