A Friday brunch of high quality at Roberto's - Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Oh we are spoilt for choice in the nation's capital when it comes to high quality, high-end brunches. The move away from wasteful, oversized buffets to more sustainable table brunches where there is a greater emphasis on food freshness and quality continues, and while we had one such brunch 4 years ago, I can count at least 5 that I would easily recommend to a brunch goer who was interested more in food than free flowing bubbly . Of course , there are times that the table brunch is chosen out of necessity for logistical reasons. Be that as it may, Roberto's Restaurant & Lounge on Al Maryah Island launched its brunch Andiamo Brunch not so long ago and when I visited recently, I had very high expectations. This is Roberto's, after all. 

To start...

Brunch starts off at the Oyster & Cocktail Bar where oysters are freshly shucked and paired with cocktails. I like this. With so many brunches, anything that can differentiate you from the competition is a great thing. I have my oysters with a glass of R de Ruinart Champagne, while I look out at the garden - it really feels, sitting here on the covered terrace, that I am in a garden. I find it surreal...but very nice.  

For the antipasti, I have three choices - Mare or seafood, Terra or land and Misti, a mix of both. This is a great concept. Between my guest and I, we have land and sea covered. 

The starters proper are impressive in name and execution. Salmon tartare, Rocket Salad and the Beef tartare, in particular, stand out for me. The latter, by the way, is made live at the table. Like a couple of other restaurants following this sharing concept, the portions are small, but perfect. Isn't it great to have a taste of many dishes without the feeling that you have eaten too much? This is why this concept works so well. 

Let's have a drink...

Drinks are now a big part of brunch and I don't mean just champagne. More people at brunches drink cocktails, so it is essential to have someone who can wow guests as he or she mixes up things. I much prefer a  roving drinks trolley. During brunch we see Ankit, in a bow tie and all, visit tables and mix his own creations. He has charm and personality and flair to boot. 

Brunch offers a red and white wine too, a little thin I think for premium package holders, but there is no disappointment with the champagne. Along with one other restaurant in the city, Roberto's offers the best champagne as it serves the R de Ruinart Brut Champagne. It is a champagne with a rich history and when you try it, you can see why. It has a lot of finesse and screams elegance. 

To have some more...

Before the main is served, I have the Mushroom Risotto, trolley service, table side. The texture, intense aroma and flavour of the parmesan make it an excellent intermediate dish. But it is the playful and enjoyable presentation of the risotto by our waitress that makes it more than just about the dish. The old adage that if three restaurants are serving the same risotto and presenting it in the same way, how can one remember one from another? Answer - the person plating it. 

Brunch here is so much about choice. While I have a choice with antipasti, the same applies to my main course where I can opt for meat, fish or vegetarian. It is also about service at the table in which dishes are plated in front of you. The consistency in the concept is something I think really adds to the brunch experience. 

For my main, I have the Baked seabass, a subtly flavoured dish where cherry tomatoes, olives and capers especially, add a delicate sweet-sour element. However, the joy in this dish was the unwrapping at the table. The child in me is awoken as I try to anticipate what it will look and smell like; curiosity through the presentation.

Finally, dessert takes me to the lounge area where a manageable selection awaits - no, this is a  good thing. Less is more. My walk to the dessert area reinforces the nice balance Roberto's has struck between the table experience and the visual aspect of food as the dessert is displayed. The issue for me, though, is that the lounge is, of course, empty, so it feels rather dead as one gets one's dessert. It is almost like two venues with a completely different vibe. Nonetheless, the small buffet dessert concept works. I don't mind, at the end of my brunch, walking somewhere to choose dessert.  

Friday Brunch at Roberto's has so much going for it and yet I feel as it is a very young brunch, it still has room to get even better. It is family friendly, with kids given colouring pages and crayons. Don't be out off by that. The clientele here are likely to have kids who are well behaved. From a family point of view, it opens parents' eyes to the idea that kids can have a good time without processed chicken nuggets. Next, the timing of 12pm-4pm this means you can really relax, rather than feel pressed, which the 1pm-4pm brunch time does. In terms of food it is just perfect - perfectly proportioned dishes that cover a  spectrum of flavours, exquisitely presented with a strong human element. On the drinks front, some more variety among the wines and this brunch rises up to a level that puts it close to the top. 

Overall, Roberto's offers a Friday brunch of tremendous quality, well-trained staff who provide personalised service and a table dining experience that gives the guests a choice of courses across the menu - something unique in the city. It is still early days, but I am already seeing a brunch that has all the potential to be among the top 5 in the city. 

The Essentials

Roberto's Restaurant & Lounge,
Rosewood Hotel,
Al Maryah Island,
Abu Dhabi
T +971 2 627 9009
Roberto's Brunch Menu

Packages - Net prices
295AED Soft drinks
395AED Wines, cocktails
495AED Wines, cocktails, spirits, prosecco
555AED All the above plus champagne

Brandon Stoltenkamp