Eat, Play, Laugh is the latest concept to launch upon Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning brunch scene. Located in the heart of the city at the business-centric Marriott Downtown, brunch-goers will find a different type of brunch than we’re accustomed to in the capital. The Eat, Play, Laugh brunch does exactly what it says on the tin, encapsulating the feel of the party brunch (increasingly popular in Dubai) and bringing together a winning combination of adults games, lively atmosphere and a crowd-pleasing soundtrack.
Last Friday actually marked our second time at the brunch which was previously held in the cavernous all-day-dining space Kuzbara, a venue that struggled to maintain atmosphere due to its sheer size. With the weather perfect for al fresco dining, the Marriott Downtown team have sensibly moved brunch outside and up to the 25th floor into the aptly named Grill@25.
Set around the hotel’s rooftop swimming pool and with large floor to ceiling glass windows offering impressive views across the entire city (it’s easy to forget just how tall the Marriott Downtown is), Grill@25 seems a fitting location for a new type of brunch. With the smaller venue better suited to the set-up, allowing the atmosphere to develop easily. As one of a handful of ‘adults only’ brunch options in Abu Dhabi (you must be at least 18 to attend), the party vibes begin as soon as the elevator doors open, with the sounds of old-school hip-hop and R&B from the fantastic DJ Simerson. It’s a very rare occasion that you’ll find us dancing prior to having a drink but each song worked to build the crowd into a hedonistic frenzy.
Eat, Play, Laugh appears to be more focused on the entertainment rather than food, with party games such as beer pong, connect four and life-size Jenga available to guests. Usually skeptical when it comes to all things magic, we have to confess that British magician James Harrington was another highlight, managing to astound even the most unbelieving members of our group (yep us)!
With such frivolity poolside you might expect that attention to be drawn away from the food, but a sizable buffet is offered in conjunction with a number of live-stations, including meat carvery (though we do note the absence of Yorkshire puddings), shawarma and Indian chaat. Regular diners to the Marriott Downtown will likely recognise key members of staff from the JW Steakhouse manning the live-grills and mixology stations.
As a brunch, the concept is skewed slightly more towards drinking and having a good time than being one for the foodies. Salads, Arabic mezze, fresh seafood and desserts are all beautifully presented on the buffet, yet there are few items you wouldn’t find at every other brunch in the city. Thankfully signature dishes from the hotel’s predominant outlets are brought to the table, so make sure you save room for Velocity’s fried calamari and sliders and the New York cheesecake from JW Steakhouse.
Wisely, the raw bar, oysters and ice cream are kept inside out of the heat where the walls are clad in deep foliage (#JungleStyle). A German-inspired pretzel and beer station provides a novel approach for brunch, with the intention for the pretzels to be dipped in the cheese fountain. Unfortunately, the cheese appeared to be of the wrong consistency, causing it to congeal as it flowed. An unfortunate misstep from an otherwise impressive spread.
The dessert buffet is one of the better ones in the city, with the indulgent chocolate ‘freak-cake,’ piled high with chunks of brownies and slathered in a chocolate frosting becoming the talking point of our table.
With three packages available – Eat (soft drinks), Play (house beverages) and Laugh (bubbly) — the drinks selection is good, with the Hibiscus Martini, fresh-pressed juices (complete with aromatic sprays) and infused waters impressing the most. The brunch also includes complimentary pool access after 4pm (if you’ve not had too much to drink) but with the pool out of action during brunching hours, we’d be interested to hear how this inconvenience is affecting in-house guests.
Eat, Play Laugh is a lively brunch and one that we would certainly recommend for those looking to party! Going in we didn’t have any real expectations, but we left having had an enjoyable time. This particular brunch is definitely more about the drinks, music and atmosphere and the adults-only approach will also appeal to those looking to let loose on the weekend.
Kudos to the Marriott Downtown for bringing something fresh to the capital and for being unafraid to deviate from the norm. In the current F&B industry where competition is fierce, its great to see people taking risks and this is one gamble that has certainly paid off.
Location: Marriott Downtown Hotel, Old Airport Road, Al Wahda, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Hours: 12:30pm – 4pm
Phone: 02 304 7777
Out & About UAE were guests of Grill@25. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.