Brunch Etiquette in Abu Dhabi

Brunches are incredibly popular in Abu Dhabi, as I imagine they are across The UAE. There are many reasons for this; the eat as much as you want concept appeals to many, children finally have  a chance to go out with their parents to some swanky establishments without being tied to the table for fear of misbehaving, free flowing grapes, hops and bubbles and numerous other reasons. So, brunches are here to stay.

However, is there a standard of accepted behavior at these affairs? Let me sketch a scenario for you: I am sure you have seen the guy at the buffet stations, balancing a plate with more food on it than a smorgasbord celebrating Spring, while in the other hand he is carrying a dessert bowl. Have you ever been tempted to go to him and say, "You do realise the buffet is here for the next 3 hours and they are unlikely to run out food. Are you expecting a nuclear winter?" I guess your politeness prevents you from going through with this. This leads one to the question: Is there etiquette for brunch that goes deeper than acceptable dress code? As long as there are people, there will always be a need for etiquette. Here follows some tips for brunch behaviour.

St Regis Abu Dhabi: Children should be seen and not heard - manners are the glue of society. 

Dress up. Come on. In a time when everything is becoming casual and easy, it is refreshing to see men, women and children talking extra care with their dress. We have microwave dinners, short messages on twitter, instant coffee, add water and stir juices - how about taking that extra time to look good, but appropriate? Iron that shirt, wear those pumps and splash on a suitable amount f perfume or cologne. Live.

Cancel reservations by informing the restaurant in advance if possible. Hotels Look to their brunches as a chance to show case the cuisines on offer in their restaurants. They are often fully booked and have to reject some people. When you decide simply not to go, you have prevented someone else from taking that table. In the process, there is lost revenue for the hotel. This is basic politeness.

Once at the restaurant, take your time with your buffet trips. Brunches are generally 3 hours long, affording you the chance to slow down and relax. Filling your plate in the first half hour defeats this purpose.

Hyatt Capital Gate: Food is a celebration, so let it look good. No need to fill plates

Next, let us look at the guest mentioned above who is preparing for a nuclear war. If you were at an a la carte restaurant, would you put your starter and main on the same plate? Would you mix your oysters with prime rib? Is it likely that you would put pasta salad and sushi on the same plate? Hopefully you answered NO to all three questions. So, why would you do this at a buffet. Keep an aesthetic quality about your plate. Keep seafood alone. Keep salads alone, and so on. Also, on every return trip from the buffet, your plate should look good. Food is, after all, more than just functional. It is a celebration!

Because a buffet is about eating as much as you want, it does not mean you should waste. Be mindful when you put food on your plate. 

Shangri-la's Sofra Bld: Seafood is seafood. The land is the land. No need to mix food on your plate

The next one is a tough one - taking photos. People are split on this. I have seen people walking with their ipads and taking pictures as if they were in some public park, oblivious to the people behind them, trying to pass. Then there are those people with cameras with  bright flashes periodically going off. Okay, I have never done the ipad, but I have been guilty of using the flash on my iphone to get that picture. These are my thoughts: There is nothing wrong with capturing a memory, but be aware of other people. Take your pictures quickly and put away your camera. Click! Click! Now enjoy your brunch.

Jumeirah Etihad's Rosewater: Take that pic. But do it without a fuss and stop

Finally, brunches are a lively occasion. But there are still things to be are of - kids should never be allowed to run in a restaurant. It is dangerous and disturbs people. Also, 'lively' does not mean talking at top volume to the person next to you. Consideration. A little consideration. 

What is socially acceptable is a debate that will never stop. The diversified in the world will ensure that this debate never dies down. What is acceptable in one culture can be deemed rude in another. However, there are basic rules that, when followed, can ensure that enjoyment at a brunch is not sacrificed, but enhanced. Bon app├ętit, politely so!

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Pics taken at the above brunches in Abu Dhabi.