Friday brunch at Terrace on the Corniche - St Regis Hotel, Abu Dhabi
However, I was determined to experience the brunch offering at Terrace on the Corniche with an open mind, building on my previous visit to the Terrace which is reviewed here: http://bit.ly/1GCqBtq
As I was shown to my table by the hostess, there was an energy at the brunch already - and that was just after 1pm. It says a lot about a brunch when so soon after the exodus of, and subsequent return of the expats, that it is around 80% full. How did it bode for the rest of the afternoon? Here follows some talking points from the brunch.
Feeling of luxe
This is inescapable. There is an elegance to the brunch that makes you feel you are at a special brunch. And why not? With restaurants trying to play down their finer aspects for fear of alienating guests, this brunch is not short on a feeling of luxury, and it has nothing to with the price. I can think off hand of 5 other brunches that are more expensive. The china, silver (albeit remnants from the old Rhodes days), the crowd and the generally well spoken staff all contribute to that feeling.
I got the feeling, just as my guest pointed too, that they really emphasise the quality of food at this brunch. The appetisers were simply unbeatable from a creativity and invention point of view. Gone are the trough-like servings of old favourites that one gets accustomed to at brunches, and they are replaced by individualistic servings, beautifully presented. For example, hummus served in dainty glasses, was presented as hummus in three parts - beetroot, traditional and carrot. I loved the colour!
While there was no foie gras station on the day, I could not help but request some, to see how Chef interpreted it. It turned out to be the best foie gras dish I have had in the city. Everything was perfectly proportioned and Chef did not fall into the trap of overwhelming the foie gras with sweetness. All the fruit elements on the plate had very acidic overtones, from the fresh green apple to the pineapple. The balsamic reduction sat perfectly underneath the toasted brioche. In addition, truffle mash provided an unexpected complexity. Finally, the foie gras could not have been better cooked with a gorgeous brown surface colour contrasting with the mild pink on the inside. Superb!
The most underwhelming station though, was without doubt the Seafood station. The crab was disappointingly shy of flesh, making it not really worth the effort. The shrimp too was not of the standard one is accustomed to. Finally, no oysters.
There were some other outstanding dishes on the day though. The Mango and basil shooter and Scallop ceviche were both worthy of second runs which I did without prompting.
|Mango and basil shooter and Scallop ceviche|
Definitely the dedicated dessert room. They have made use of the adjoining lounge and transformed it into one of the most stylish dessert stations in the city - and that is not overstating. It is a brilliant innovation on their part, using what was essentially a wasted lounge for the time brunch was held. In addition to an incredible selection of treats created by the pastry chef and his team, a choice selection of cheeses served to highlight what a glorious dessert room this is. Finally, while the terrace was pretty much closed, the cooler months will see the addition of a live grill station and of course foie gras station.
A fine brunch. Sophisticated and classy, but with room for improvement. I can see this brunch getting even better as the brunch season progresses. I think it combines the best of the old brunch with a greater awareness of its geographical location, hence some amazing Arabic dishes exquisitely and creatively presented, making for a brunch of overall quality. It was finally the moment when I was able to let go of Rhodes 44 and acknowledge that Terrace on the Corniche is on its way to creating an identity all its own, based in the present.
The low down
Terrace on the Corniche
St Regis Hotel, Abu Dhabi
971 2 6944444
Soft beverages 255 AED++