A few short weeks after F1 weekend we find ourselves back at the Yas Hotel for the launch of a new brunch concept, The Best of Blighty Brunch. Yas Island’s premier five-star property with its unmistakable architecture is the world’s only hotel to span a Formula 1 circuit and has added a third brunch to their already packed agenda.
The Best of Blighty Brunch takes place in the Palm Garden, a lovely outdoor space of verdant grassy lawns and aisles of palm trees overlooking the racing circuit. Going all out for astute ‘Britishness’ the set-up includes wooden picnic benches and parasols, with table numbers replaced by UK cities and towns, providing the feeling of a garden party. The sufficient children’s area resembles a village fete and while there are no swing-boats, a bouncy castle, arts and crafts and a roaming magician keep the little ones entertained.
Greeted with champagne things are off to a good start in the beverage department and an ample selection of cocktail stations are dispersed throughout the space, including juniper based drinks and the quintessentially British choice of Pimm’s which immediately take us back to summers spent at Wimbledon.
British pub classics make up the majority of the buffet options, including fish and chips with mushy peas (hooray), shepherd’s pie and an extensive carvery section featuring salt-baked salmon, lamb shoulder, roast beef and a particularly succulent short rib. A selection of seafood on ice presents the expected brunch favourites of oysters, shrimp and crab. While they more than suffice, we would’ve loved to see more obscure British choices such as cockles, whelks and jellied eels. Maybe that’s just the East Londoner in us talking!
With this being the inaugural brunch for this particular concept, it’s not to say that The Best of Blighty Brunch was not without issue. Like Theresa May trying to negotiate a Brexit strategy things are a little chaotic, with cutlery disappearing half way through proceedings and the shepherd’s pie described to one customer as “spaghetti bolognaise with mashed potato!” Service recovery is everything and the team do an admirable job of keeping things together while always wearing genuine smiles. An issue with flies (we are outside after all) though no fault of the hotel, is remedied quickly and efficiently via makeshift screens created from cling wrap.
Unexpectedly, none of this detracts from the overall experience and the terrific atmosphere created by The International Playboys, who many will know as the resident band of late night hangout Heroes. Their set includes Britpop classics (we’d completely forgotten about Pulp’s Disco 2000) that are bound to get the crowd moving and reignite the Blur Vs. Oasis rivalry of 1995.
This particular is brunch full of surprises and despite the varying quality upon the buffet, a selection of dishes are served directly to the table and are of a very high standard. In fact there’s little need to visit the buffet as the portions of these signature dishes are HUGE. A duo of bulbous Scotch eggs wisely substitute beef for pork while still managing to retain excellent flavours. The gloriously runny egg yolk within is all the more impressive given the sheer volume of Scotch eggs arriving from the kitchen, each uniformly perfect.
Initial observations surrounding the carvery left us disappointed by the lack of Yorkshire puddings, but it’s safe to say we well and truly jumped the gun! Mid-way though the brunch a baking tray filled with Yorkshire pudding (crisp on the outside and fluffy within) arrives, piled high with succulent roast chicken and seasonal veggies. We find ourselves hastily reaching for the gravy…
Dessert offer a number of interesting choices via a selection of cakes, cookies and confectionary, but it’s the mousse that had us most intrigued. A live station in which the chef uses liquid nitrogen and your favourite tipple (Baileys, Kahlua, Malibu) to concoct a frozen mousse of either chocolate or vanilla. A jar of trifle marks the conclusion of this particular brunch and while it’s not the boozy variation we would’ve perhaps preferred, the thick layers of strawberry and cream are easily enough for a group of six.
The Best of Blighty brunch is held once a month beneath the coloured bunting and Union Jack flags decorating the Palm Garden. An extended running time until 5pm makes for an ideal drinking brunch and the kids area ensures a family-friendly vibe which already appears to have gained traction with the Khalifa City crowd. More importantly, with F1 over the Best of Blighty brunch marks the first step in the transition of the Yas Hotel into a W and based upon this indicator, we’re particularly hopeful as to what the future holds for this iconic property…
Location: Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
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Phone: 02 656 0000
Out & About UAE were guests of the Yas Hotel. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE
The Verdict: Best Of Blighty Brunch