A journal, inspired by my love for my daughter, that embraces quality food, service and experiences which make life worth living. In the words of Tennyson's Ulysses, " I cannot rest from travel. I will drink life to the lees." Seeking that incredible dining or hotel experience and writing about it. Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Friday Brunch at Coopers - Park Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Coopers, it cannot be denied, is an institution in Abu Dhabi. It is a bar and restaurant that has more regulars than it has new visitors - that is how popular it is. It was a treat for me recently to step outside of my usual brunch zone and visit Coopers for its Friday brunch. Here are some talking points from that brunch experience.
1. A Bar atmosphere cannot be beaten
Brunch was virtually full, with quite a few people finding a place on the terrace to enjoy the last weeks of al fresco dining before Summer comes. Inside, the bar was loud. People chatted. This was such a pleasant change from the usually refined experiences one has - brunch should be a raucous, happy affair. At Coopers it certainly is! However, I would like to see music a bit louder. There was a tv on with music videos which is fine, but it was so low that it robbed the bar of atmosphere that goes over and above the usual laughter and chatter. IMake a good atmosphere a great atmosphere.
2. Food and stations
This was the biggest surprise for me. I expected some traditional British pub dishes and a lot of beer and wine. However, it was much more than that. The Beef Wellington was the best I have had at a pub, with its medium rare temperature beautifully consistent. The 8 hour braised beef just broke apart effortlessly. I also tried the Beef sliders and fries - very good. The brunch also has a good salad station, something I did not expect and kudos to the Chef for adding not just salads, but some great variety too. There was also a decent sized cheese selection and for those with a really sweet tooth, an extensive dessert station. The only thing missing for me from the dessert station was a sticky toffee pudding!
Of course, in a bar, you are right to expect a good drinks selection. If that is your expectation at Coopers, you will not be dismayed. The drinks options are excellent, with a wide choice of draft and bottled beer. For wine drinkers, and this really surprised me, premium package holders have a different choice of wines compared to the mid-range drinkers. I really like this because I have often felt if you pay more, you deserve more. Cocktails are of course a big part of the brunch here and a nice touch was the Bloody Mary station, which unfortunately was not visited enough. They may want to rotate this with a different station every week.
To add to my afternoon of being confounded, the Prosecco is actually good for the price paid. It would have been easy to go with a terrible sparkling wine, but I must hand it to them - the Casa Defra Prosecco 1754 is better than I have had at many more expensive brunches.
4. Value for money
The city is awash with 2 for 1 offers, something is actually killing the market. Coopers offers packages that suit the pocket and if you do not have an app that allows you to get a discount, it is all good. The cheapest package starts at 125AED, the mid range at 160AED and the premium package that includes Prosecco is priced at 190AED. That is tremendous value, and if you add the dishes and atmosphere, this is a fabulously priced brunch. It is also heartening to know that some places are going full price and that people are willing to pay it.
There were times I felt they were short staffed, but kudos to the staff on duty who worked very hard to deliver Park Rotana's signature service. These are challenging times for hotels and staffing is a tough one. In my interaction with staff, I enjoyed myself and special mention of Luz and Tim who at times went beyond the normal service by stretching that smile even further and delivering on those orders even faster; this was evident in their dealings with at least two or three other tables.
Overall, Coopers Bar and Restaurant's Friday Brunch offers guests a product that I imagine is very consistent. How else do you account for the regulars? However, it will also win over more guests who want a brunch that is very different from the usual high-end expensive brunches around the city. I also think it is not just a drinking brunch because I actually enjoyed quite a few dishes. Coopers shows that the stereotype that people have of bar/pub brunches is indeed an unfair one. This was a great experience.