Abu Dhabi offers such an abundance of Friday brunches that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to choose where to spend your precious weekend afternoons. With the quality of brunches varying drastically throughout the city, there is one brunch that is currently causing quite a stir and it comes from The Foundry at The Southern Sun Hotel.
The Foundry is predominantly a gourmet steak house and despite the hotel’s four star status, the restaurant is winning accolades all over town. Th Foundry was voted ‘best steakhouse in Abu Dhabi’ at the 2016 Fact Dining Awards and it’s pleasing to see that people are finally beginning to see the merits of this beautiful restaurant.
The space is one of our favorites in the city. With only 120 covers The Foundry feels both intimate and exclusive. The decor though simple, adopts a charming color scheme of oranges and metallic bronze, from the velvet seats all the way through to the subtle tones in the glassware.
Even the seating options are special with six ‘pods’ that can be pulled shut into small private dining spaces. There is also a VIP table located on the top of the wine cellar that provides a great vantage point for all the brunch festivities below. Finally ,just outside of the restaurant is a pool of water upon which float a number of tables shaped like water lilies – The Foundry really is a special place.
The concept behind the brunch is ‘Raising The Steaks’ a name that not only showcases The Foundry’s signature dish but also acts as a memorable and fun play on words. It’s refreshing to see a brunch that is part buffet and part a la carte. Rather than throwing everything at the assembled diners, the team at The Foundry have carefully selected their live-cooking stations with everything revolving around the steaks that we have heard so much about.
To be honest, we were immidiatelty impressed. Armed with a chilled glass of champagne, a fresh basket of bread arrived with a selection of butters. Now bread is one of our all time favorite things and with the addition of flavored butters we were in heaven before even taking a glance at the buffet.
Aside from the inevitable champagne, guests also have the choice of grapes, hops and a number of cocktails – Margherita’s, Cosmopolitans and Daiquiris – which can be customized with different fruit blends but beware all of them are STRONG.
The items on the buffet are mainly salads, seafood and cold cuts but it’s evident that each dish has been carefully selected for inclusion and you won’t find many of the regular brunch staples like dim sum or sushi. Instead, it’s very much a case of quality over quantity with dishes that are likely to complement the steak and to pique interest in more seasoned brunchers.
Live-cooking abounds and there are some really interesting stations to choose from. The oyster shucking table comprises three types of oysters, while the antipasti and seafood smorgasbord features a good mix of cured Italian meats and fruits of the sea.
Interesting enough is the carpaccio and tartar station. Offering thinly sliced beef with asparagus and truffle olive oil, alongside beef tartar with runny quail egg and a slither of crisp baguette. Though very meat heavy (especially beef) the brunch is also suitable for vegetarians with quiche, mushrooms soup and spinach tortellini amongst a host of other veggie friendly dishes.
Fans of seafood will appreciate the inclusion of a clam chowder station and a ceviche and and taco bar. With each item masterfully plated to perfection every dish is intricate and showcases the chefs culinary artistry. From the lime infused ceviche to the trio of tacos (peppered beef, pulled duck and chili crab) each dish blew us away.
The steak is the crowning glory of this brunch and is cooked in front of you so that you’re able to request exactly how you would like it. Served with a variety of sauces, gravies and vegetables (we loved the truffle mashed potatoes) there are a number of steaks to select that include milk-fed veal, Argentinian Black Angus, Wagyu and the South African tenderloin. We tried the Wagyu and the tenderloin and though both were good, the latter was better – just as the chef had said it would be. So many times steak is described as ‘tender’ and ‘melt in the mouth’ but there really are few other ways to describe the steak at The Foundry. It really is that good.
For those less inclined to eat steak, there is also chicken, short rib and lamb shanks available but the most surprising thing for us was the foie gras gallery. Putting aside the ethics of foie gras for a moment, the taste and texture are an acquired one – overly rich and too much for many palettes. The Foundry has demystified foie gras somewhat by making it more accessible and more fun to eat.
The foie gras comes in a variety of forms and potencies and even as a couple of desserts. The more traditional version is seared and plated on a bed of celeriac texture, Calvados jus and a Granny Smith Apple.
Of more interest were the chocolate chilli foie gras pops, containing only a mild hint of foie gras at the end. A foie gras ice cream was very sweet and blended well with the notes of the duck liver and the only dish that didn’t really hit was the jellied foie gras apple, which despite looking the part was too overwhelming for us.
Desserts are not on the buffet, instead they are plated a la carte style and the portions are huge. Judging by the amount of chefs on the floor and how willing they were to interact with diners, it would seem that the Southern Sun firmly understand that there’s more to brunch than just food. Though, with six individual desserts to choose from, we gleefully tried them all!
From the selection of desserts (deconstructed red velvet cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate mudslide, creme brûlée, churros and passion fruit cake) we appreciated the chocolate mudslide and the churros the most and unlike many brunch desserts, everything at the Foundry tasted great. There is a cupcake decorating area for children and a wine and cheese cellar for those in search of something less sweet.
Raising The Steaks is a fantastic brunch concept and one that would be great to bring visitors to. Despite it’s sophisticated nature it’s a very relaxed affair with the only negative being that it is not really suitable for children. It has been a while since we were this excited to be writing about a brunch but The Foundry had us truly enamored. It’s classy, laid back and the food is exceptional.
Having visited our fair share of brunches you do find that after a while they all blend into one and that despite looking great the food often disappoints. The Foundry has enough innovation and delivers a culinary experience like no other, that allows it to stand head and shoulders above the crowd.
The Foundry continues to carve out a stellar reputation on the capitals competitive dining scene and this brunch is only going to help cement that reputation.
We are less than a month into the new brunch season and Abu Dhabi really seems to be upping its game with some spectacular brunches. Brunches that not only compete but excel above the best that Dubai has to offer. We are specifically talking about Crust (The Four Seasons), Olea (St. Regis Saadiyat) and now The Foundry at The Southern Sun.
Brunch at The Foundry takes place each Friday from 12:30pm – 4pm:
229 AED++ (soft drinks)
299 AED++ (house beverages and cocktails)
360 AED++ (bubbly)
114 AED++ (children aged 6 – 12)
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, unless otherwise stated.