The Terrace Brunch - Zaya Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi

As I have noted before on numerous occasions, brunches have a tough task trying to differentiate themselves from the other brunches. In fact, brunches are so similar, that out of ten, I find myself remembering 2 or 3. With Zaya Nurai Island introducing its brunch, it was an opportunity to see how they would fair in offering a brunch that stands out from the rest.

Table with a view

The experience starts at the Zaya Nurai Welcome Centre on Saadiyat Island. A cosy and comfortable waiting area where our reservation is confirmed and we are told that the speed boat to take us to the island will leave soon. Once on board, we are given life jackets. The boat trip is around 15 minutes. Quite surreal knowing we are taking a  boat to have Friday brunch. The waters are beautiful. Turquoise. On arrival, we are escorted to a reception room where we are offered a  wet towel and a welcome drink. It is a miserable and dusty day, but this does not detract from the obvious beauty of the island. 

Keep it simple. That is the main idea here. The Terrace offers a part buffet and part a la carte brunch. The buffet area, somewhat sparse in a cavernous space, has an interesting and atypical collection of dishes. Cold cuts, smoked salmon, cheeses, mezze, breads and jams as well as desserts are all displayed. There is a BBQ grill that offers the usual selection of surf and turf. Finally, there is an a la carte menu with hot appetisers and main dishes offering a  compact choice of dishes. 

The cod
The memorable entrecote
The highlights for me are from the menu. The Crispy shrimps in Thai dipping sauce and  Chicken skewers in peanut sauce hit the right note. I also order the Slow roast dry aged entrecote with shallots and mushroom polenta. This is a  dish I would gladly order from a restaurant. The beef is perfectly cooked. The shallots and mushroom polenta with a hint of truffle oil is smooth and rich. Finally, the Miso glazed cod fish almost hits that perfect note. Tender and moist - all that is missing is that crispy skin. But again, a dish I would have again!

A very good selection. There is a choice of champagnes, Veuve Cliquot Brut Rosé and Moet Chandon Brut in addition to a fine sparkling South African wine, Nederburg Cuvée Brut. The wines served are also of a high standard for a brunch. An Our Town Hall 2013 Chardonnay from the Franschoek Cellar label and New Zealand Stoneleigh 2013 Sauvignon Blanc are two of the white wines available. Among the reds, there was the highly regarded  Oyster Bay Merlot 2013. A pleasant departure from the ubiquitous Chilean and Argentinian wines that make their way into brunches. 

After a bumpy start with seating issues that frustrate, we have the pleasure of meeting Justin who, based on his interaction with other tables, is clearly someone who enjoys connecting with guests. Timely service, making meaningful small talk without hanging around - some of his trademarks. A pleasure being waited upon by him. Meanwhile, staff, clad in chinos blue shirts and Converse All Stars reflect the laid back feel of the brunch. 

The Verdict
Very much a work in progress, but with so many elements already in place, The Terrace brunch will be about more than just a view and getting away from it all. While that feeling of being able to hop onto a boat and be transported to another world just 15 minutes away is exhilarating, it is also about the food after all. I look forward to the addition of more seafood dishes to reflect the idyllic location as well as ironing out little things which will make for a smooth brunch experience. 

The picturesque location is almost without peer. I also loved the intimacy of the brunch, management on hand to ensure that needs are met and a part buffet and part a la carte concept that appeals to a seasoned brunch guest. Finally, it is the relaxed feeling that pervades the brunch that will leave a marked impression. A therapeutic brunch if you will! The major downside side was having to leave. 

The low down

Zaya Nurai island, Abu Dhabi
The Terrace Brunch
971 2 506 6222

AED450 soft drinks
AED550 wine
AED650 bubbly