Picas-picas Brunch at p&c by Sergi Arola - Shangri-la, Abu Dhabi

Having had the surreal pleasure of meeting Sergi Arola and joining him and 10 others for dinner when Shangri-la announced the rebranding of Pearls & Caviar, and attending the subsequent launch, I harboured great expectations for the restaurant. Pearls & Caviar had consistently been one of the top brunches in the city in previous years, so the rebranded p&c by Sergi Arola had a few questions to answer in my mind. 

To use a cliché, I could hardly wait to try it. 

Talking points from the brunch.

It reflects the best of Sergi Arola while also being cognisant of the local brunch culture. Waiting staff kept bringing tapas to our table. These tapas showed both creativity and fine execution. Then there was also the buffet area. But do not think of a large, wasteful buffet. It is quite small, featuring amongst others, seafood offerings, three kinds of paella, some Arabic dishes and of course dessert. So, the balance between the buffet and staff bringing dishes makes it quite a unique brunch. In Abu Dhabi, brunch is  still about appearances. People want to see the food spread out.  The presence of  a buffet area will satisfy those people, while the bringing of dishes to the table adds an air of sophistication. 


The concept works well on a number of levels. With staff coming around serving tapas, there is a natural engagement that takes place; nothing forced. None of the oft-times annoying, "How's the brunch?" One ends up having a normal conversation with a waiter. I like it. And with the waiting staff that p&c has, it is a good fit. Staff are young at heart and able to connect with guests. Engagement is a very strong aspect of the p&c brunch. It would be nice though to have more female staff. I think it brings a lovely balance to the restaurant. 

Transformation to picas picas

If you have been to the old Pearls & Caviar, you will see that there have not been any cosmetic changes to speak of, but there are other differences, some subtle and some not so. You will find probably the best kitted waiting staff, a welcome change from the old sterile black pants and white shirts. The same can be said for the china and napkins. Very classy and elegant. They have also introduced a new Champagne, Mumm NV, and despite the fact that I did enjoy the Duval- Leroy, I think Mumm is better able to carry a brunch. I am also excited about the coming addition of a cava to to their drinks packages. This will add another authentic edge to their Spanish brunch. Finally, Sergi Arola loves gin, and this is reflected here too. There were a number of gin infused drinks. 


I was really pleased with what they have done. When I went for brunch a year ago, then already, good as it was,  I felt that it was a tired brunch and in need of  a new infusion of something. It has happened. It is a brunch with a fabulous identity thanks to Sergi Arola's impact and the obvious hard work by staff that has gone into changing the concept. It is also unashamedly adults only - there are enough family brunches in the city after all. This brunch will get even better in October when Pearls Bar opens up, leading to a  natural flow of people finishing brunch wanting to continue the party upstairs. 

In the larger scheme of things, the Picas-picas brunch shows the continued renewal that is happening at Shangri-la. 

The lowdown

p&c by Sergi Arola, 
Shangri-la at Qaryat Al Beri,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 509 8888

260 AED++ Soft drinks
295 AED++ Wine
430 AED++ Bubbly

Brandon Stoltenkamp