The Wicked Brunch at Ingredients - Eastern Mangroves by Anantara
The Eastern Mangroves Hotel by Anantara is one of few 5 star properties in the city that genuinely connects to its Arabian location through its architecture and decor. This feeling continued as I walked down the corridor to their Friday brunch housed in their Ingredients restaurant. The space is wonderfully deceptive because it is so expansive, and you might be forgiven for assuming it is a big brunch in terms of numbers, but they have made fine use of their space.
Here are some talking points from the Wicked Brunch, so-called I imagine because of the decadent spread that awaits guests.
Ambience and decor
The corridor to Ingredients already sets the tone with its Arabian inspired design. As you enter Ingredients, the first thing that makes an impression is the high ceilings. Add to this floor to ceiling windows affording views of the mangroves. These all create a tremendous sense of space, something so crucial in an all day dining restaurant where people are often crammed in. Not here. With an indoor capacity of around 120, the brunch is well spaced out ensuring no eaves-dropping on conversations.
The next thing you will feel comes relates to the name of the restaurant - Ingredients. All around the restaurant you will see fresh produce, canned and bottled items, reinforcing the elements or ingredients that go into not only a dish, but also a brunch. Abundance abounds.
Stations and dishes
Genuine open kitchens continue the sense of openness created by the general lay out of the restaurant. There are the usual dishes like foie gras and oysters (my personal staples at a brunch), but I was taken in by something else this time. The 'Asianness' of the brand is brought home quite emphatically by the Asian offerings. With the hotel having a Thai restaurant, Pachaylen as its signature restaurant, you can expect a strong offering in this area. Personally, I would have liked to see a much larger Thai station because of this, but I guess Thai food still remains a bit of a niche cuisine in the city. Nonetheless, it is a highlight. Be sure to try the pad thai and green papaya salad.
The Japanese station has the usual sushi and sashimi of course, but this wis easily eclipsed by the tempura - not many brunches offer this. And it is beautifully executed. Delicately crispy and light.
Finally, the dessert station is a taste of paradise. It is colourful. Very colourful. A child's slice of heaven. Unfortunately, the sweets are too high for children to reach, so they may have to rethink this. The fun element is lost for a child if he/she has to ask for help in reaching for a lollypop. Be that as it may, I loved the dessert station. It combined elements of live stations and self service. Desserts had tiny individual portions, presented in an almost patisserie style set up. Finally, for the more mature palates, a 10-selection cheese station completed an excellent dessert station. Only thing missing? A dessert wine to accompany the cheese.
Speaking of drinks, two reds, two whites and NV Laurent Perrier Brut make up the premium package while a Fantinel Extra Dry Prosecco and the wines are served mid range. I always enjoy a choice of wines, and I think 4 work very well.
By now you know the formula when it comes to entertainment at a brunch - get a performer/performers to subject people to a jazzy interpretation of some songs. Easy going and unobtrusive, but predictable.
Colombian band, Diamond Duo a Colombian pair comprising Danny Suarez and Maria Castro, performed during brunch and produced a set that started out with exactly that, jazzified pop songs, but once that was done, their repertoire broadened and soon had people tapping their fingers on their tables. Even the chefs at the Japanese/Thai station were into the swing of things, gently tapping utensils. We heard tunes from One Republic to Rob Thomas to Maroon 5 - perfect for a brunch. You know that your band is doing well when as a guest you look around and you see guests mouthing the words to a song!
|Colombian duo Danny and Maria with one guest worried about her ice cream.|
With an Asian-heavy staffing policy (Anantara is a Thai brand) you will feel Asian warmth. Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Nepali and Chinese are just some of the diverse Asian staff who will serve you. I encountered the level of Asian warmth and sincerity I have experienced at only one or maybe two other high end brunches in the city. The rest of the service is what you would expect as glasses are periodically topped without prompting, plates are cleared timeously, but with none of that obsequiousness that so often irritates rather than endears at so many brunches. Manager on duty, Dinesh, had a very hands on approach in the way he marshalled his staff, clearing plates and leading by example. Also, supervisor for the day, Hien, brought a similar quality to the brunch, conecting with guests.
|The 'Happy with the service' selfie with Supervisor Hien|
Ingredients Wicked Brunch,
Eastern Mangroves Hotel by Anantara,
+971 2 656 1000
Soft Drinks 240 AED++
Wine incl Prosecco 330 AED++
Champagne by Laurent Perrier 475 AED++