Friday Brunch - Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi

There are those brunches in Abu Dhabi that as a right of passage, you simply have to experience. Having lived in Abu Dhabi for almost 3 years, I finally tried Friday brunch at Cuisine, The Fairmont.

First impressions are everything, and sadly the hostess we met as we arrived failed to grasp this. Warm and friendly yes, but missed on basics like asking if it was our first visit or explaining to us key areas of the brunch. It would have been useful, for example, if she told us there was a kids' area. Nonetheless, we make our way to our table. We sit down and I simply took it all in - it is a lively brunch, as a brunch should be, but missing music though. It is also a big brunch. Depending on how busy they are, The Fairmont opens up two other restaurants, Frankies and Marco Pierre to accommodate guests.
Premium Champagne brunch
 Our waiter eventually comes and introduces the three packages available. The sparkling package features a favourite of mine, Laurent Perrier Champagne. I was on the wine package, however. There is a choice of 2 reds and 2 whites. I like it when brunches offer this. There's a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (Antares) and a Spanish Tempranillo and Sauvignon Blanc (Masia).

Wine selection
While there are a lot of guests at the brunch, a strength is the layout of the brunch where the food stations are spread out, ensuring there are no major bottlenecks - the obvious risk when there is  brunch of this size.

I loved the presentation of the oysters

I start off with the seafood. The oysters are simply amazing. The taste of the sea gets you the moment you try it. They are well shucked and I end up having a couple of servings - of the best oysters I have had at a brunch! I then try the blue crab, and this also hits the right note. They are quite fleshy, so my efforts to break through the shells are richly rewarded. I decide to try the scallops next and they are well cooked. While I appreciate the presentation, I wonder to myself if they will not be better served on a large plate. Notwithstanding this, I enjoy them. They are not overpowered by the dressing. Finally, I visit the sushi area. There are numerous choices, but I opt for sashimi. While I am limited to tuna, this I also enjoy despite the large manly portions which are cut.

Marinated Blue crab legs 

The salad selection is impressive, and its abundance fills one with a sense of occasion. The bowls are large and well presented. The variety is also quite noticeable. I try the mozzarella and tomato and enjoy it. I have a couple of servings here too. The pesto is simply delicious.
Loved the pesto in this salad. 
Midway through my brunch I reflect on the service. It is functional, but hardly memorable. I feel a lack of engagement on the part of the waiters. There are times when I cannot find a waiter. In fairness to them though, they are quite busy trying to reach all guests.
One of my dishes of the day.
I interrupt my reflections by trying the pumpkin soup. Highly recommended and one of the dishes of the day. How can something so simple be so fantastic? It is smooth and flavorsome with a hint of sweetness. I then try a little station manned by Chef Rahul. Imagine small versions of naan but with a heavy consistency and topped with either curried lamb or chicken. Another great dish.
US Angus rib eye - perfectly cooked. 
My daughter, meanwhile, has made her way through the  pasta, pizza, grilled calamari and shrimp. She also enjoys a dish that you are unlikely to find elsewhere, so-called Japanese pancake, okonomiyaki- the latter is a staple dish in Osaka. Nice indeed. She is usually allowed a fun drink at a brunch, and she asks for a milkshake (not usually served at brunches). She insists that I mention in the blog that she loves it and appreciates the choco smiley face. It is the little things that make  a child's brunch special!
This milkshake got my daughter excited. 
I end my brunch with  a selection of cheese, fruit and jam from a small but qualitative cheese station.

Nice cheese selection
Overall, the best aspect of the brunch is the quality of the dishes. Not only was there a big variety, but the dishes I had were well cooked and full of flavour. In some cases where there was a live station, attention and care was paid to presentation. Friday brunches are fiercely competitive and I believe that aspects of service can be greatly improved to ensure that the Fairmont brunch attains the heights it did in 2011 when it was What's On best brunch in the city.

The essentials

Friday Brunch at Cuisine
Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi
+971 2 654 3333

Bubbly free: AED 269++ 
Hops and Vines: AED 319++
French bubbly option: AED 489++

                                                                                                                          Pictures thanks to Nokia Creative Studio on my Nokia 1520
Brandon Stoltenkamp