My favoured Brunch concept at Market Kitchen - Le Royal Merdien, Abu Dhabi

Chocolate fountains. A kids area with balloons as well as a clown. A loud and boisterous crowd. More than 350 guests around you trying more than 130 dishes. Crowded. Did I mention that? The lines for the roast beef are not too long fortunately...This is not Market Kitchen. The latter is a brunch that goes against the brunch culture created in the city. Here, less is more. It is classy, elegant but relaxed. There is no buffet area. This is Market Kitchen at Le Royal Meridien. 'The concept is inspired by celebrity chef Jean Georges Vongerichten, whose menus are an integral part of the restaurant. The restaurant is designed to evoke New York, with a lofted level, ideal but not exclusively for drinks and the lower level for dining. The warehouse feel adds to the New York vibe ' (from my previous visit. You can read the full review here

Five talking points

The Kitchen Concept

On arriving for the brunch, the first feeling evoked is one of tranquility. It is more than the fact that the main dining area (excluding the loft and small outdoor area) accommodates around 80 guests making for a cosy brunch. It is the design. It is the colours. As the name 'kitchen' suggests, it is homely. The kitchen is the favourite part of my childhood home. Many fond memories of sitting with my mum and dad, my brothers and sisters - mainly laughter around plates of food. That is the feeling I have as I walk in. The decor is, reminiscent of a kitchen. Also, the whites and browns emphasize that feeling of peacefulness. Earthy. 

The menu
The a la carte  brunch concept is straightforward: an a la carte set menu, if you will, comprising  starters, main courses and desserts. Be warned though, the dishes are substantial, so if you have concerns that you may leave unsatisfied because it is not a buffet, let me disabuse you of that fear! There are two sets of 3 starters, 3 main courses and 3 desserts. More than enough. If you serve fewer dishes, you have more control over the standard of the dishes. Obvious, isn't it? And that is what they do here. Finally, the menu changes, so if you go twice in a month, chances are you will not have the same meal. I love it. 

Crispy sushi - so delicious

The Dishes

There are some fabulous dishes. The crispy calamari is  perfectly cooked and beautifully complemented by the lemon rosemary dip. There is the Roasted beetroot salad with goat's cheese and crystalized ginger that is one of my favorites on the day. 

The beetroot salad. 

There is of course one of the signature dishes that you must have: Black truffle and Fontina cheese pizza. You don't have to wait for truffle season to enjoy this. I had the pleasure of it about 4 months ago. Just as good this time around. The one off-note is the Grilled beef that is overcooked. The assistant manager gracefully offers to bring out another serving, but we politely decline. It does not detract from a delightful afternoon.
Not a bad meal for kids - my daughter's main course
 Drinks selection
A high point, and one of the widest selections at a Friday brunch. Market Kitchen is true to the a la carte concept. It is about follow through, and they do it well. You can enjoy any of their by-the-glass options with your brunch - very impressive if you consider it encompasses sparkling, red, white and Rosé. Some labels on the list include Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2013, Dr Loosen Riesling 2012 and a La Planta Tempranillo 2012. Finally, the Champagne served is NV Taittinger Brut, a  growing favourite of mine. 

A high quality premium Champagne

The addition of the new Assistant manager will be a key aspect for service at Market Kitchen. I loved the way she briefly explains each dish, a reflection of her fine dining background. I think the whole dining out experience is also about being educated, and I for one love it when I am told in detail what I am having. It personalizes the whole experience. I am very excited about her addition to the staff because I believe she will infuse a new philosophy into the service, taking it beyond the usual cliches of fine, engaging service.

A very good brunch, spurred on by a winning concept. It is a brunch that will cater for families interested in an afternoon of relaxation where dishes are served; where children can join in the fun at the Fizz Factor, the hotel's designated family brunch that offers the usual brunch concept for families; an afternoon of relaxed sophistication where every dish that is served attempts to be indicative of Market Kitchen's vision which is to serve high quality food using high quality ingredients. It is a brunch that, like only a couple other brunches in the city, tries to give the guests an experience that is different, memorable and also, it must be said, tremendous value for money in an intimate setting!

The lowdown

Market Kitchen
Le Royal Meridien, Khalifa Street,
Abu Dhabi
02 674 2552

Soft Package 250 Dhs++
Cocktails and Wine 350 Dhs++
Champagne package 450 Dhs++

Brandon Stoltenkamp