Friday Brunch at Ballaro - Conrad, Dubai
1. The Terrace
What a party atmosphere of beautiful people! Definitely a fashionable crowd at this brunch. However, young and old seemed equally at home. It was lively, with a big part of the atmosphere created by a double entertainment concept. The brunch featured a quartet highlighted by a saxophonist who periodically moved among the crowd. Everyone seemed to warm to this! When they took a break, it was down to the resident DJ who kept the vibe going. It would have been so easy for Ballaro to play a pre-programed playlist while the band took a break, but in opting for a DJ, it was clear that they wished to keep guests engaged and entertained. Mission accomplished.
2. The dishes and drinks
The highlight was a live BBQ station outside and a live Grill station inside. Two grill stations catering for lovers of surf and turf? Yes! The Grill station on the terrace could not have a better setting with lush greenery in eye's view. Between these stations, choices abounded - lamb, full sized prime beef striploin, salmon, seabass, chicken and other seafood options. That is an impressive selection.
On the cold dish front, Canadian lobster, packed with moisture, had me going back for a second serving. Of course this being a brunch housed in a Sicilian restaurant, I enjoyed some Italian dishes too from some antipasti to Seafood lasagne, Eggplant parmigiana and Ravioli with cheese and tomato sauce, although I would have preferred to see an even greater emphasis on live cooking at the Italian station. Nonetheless, the varied choice on offer went a long way to placate guests in this regard.
|Outdoor BBQ station|
|Grill station indoors|
In addition to the usual cocktails one would expect at a brunch, Bacardi rum-based drinks enjoyed their own dedicated station, with staff specially dressed bringing a bit of pizzazz - a station where style met substance. In addition, a red, white and rosé catered for those in the mood for a bit of wine. Of course, no brunch is complete without bubbly, and the top tier package offered Veuve Cliquot NV Brut.
I could not have asked for service to be any better. An eclectic mix of staff ensured an afternoon that in the end was not only about dishes and bubbles. Well kitted out in uniforms which differed from the usual ones worn at breakfast and dinner, staff rose to the occasion. The engagement between staff and guest was no more epitomized than by a wine game, a tasting game that had quite a long line of guests trying their luck.
By the end of brunch, we knew so many staff by name, and surely that is what many of us want from brunch - waiting staff who start out as such but by the end, have allowed you to engage them on a meaningful level. Well for me anyway it is never just about food and drinks.
Looking ahead, engagement by the men and women in white hats and aprons will ensure that a connection is forged by the entire service team and guests.
A vibrant brunch that had many elements already in place to ensure you have a fabulous afternoon. With some minor tweaking here and there, a very good brunch could become even better. It is a fun-filled brunch where laughter and smiles bring home one of the significant meanings of brunch as it is known in Dubai. There was no more a sign of this than the 5 birthdays which were celebrated on the day.
Ballaro, on final reflection, was able to hold its own against many of the brunches I have tried over the last year. Competition is indeed tough, but this is a worthy competitor.
Ballaro Friday Brunch,
Sheikh Zayed Road,
+971 4 444 7111
295AED Soft Drinks
395AED Wine, Beer, Cocktails
495 AED all above plus Veuve Cliquot
Disclaimer: I consult at restaurants and hotels in an attempt to look at the entire product to take service levels to where they should be. I visited Ballaro courtesy of the hotel.