The Best Brunches in Abu Dhabi 2017

After many dishes, glasses of bubbly and wonderful conversations with chefs and waiting staff, it is here - a round up of the Best brunches in Abu Dhabi for 2017. This has been a challenging year for restaurants, with people in Abu Dhabi watching their spending more than ever. The year has seen 2 for 1 offers becoming the norm at most brunches, reflecting the struggles that restaurants have had to bring in guests. Nevertheless,  there are also quite a few brunches here that are not on 2 for 1 offers, bucking the trend. 

The year has seen the continued growth of 'evening' brunches, a concept I am yet to warm up to. We have also seen Saturday brunches emerging as an alternative to Friday brunches thanks to a lower price point. Value for money is the big buzz word now. There is still loyalty by a select group of guests, but most  are now loyal to the best deal available. Note though that a few brunches in my top 10 are sold at under 400AED for their top tier package.  Interesting indeed.

In the last year, brunches have paid a lot of attention to drinks, with cocktail stations becoming more abundant. Another trend has seen pass arounds becoming more and more common, although not to the point where it has become uninteresting. I see more restaurants doing this in the year ahead as they try to offer that wow factor.

I should say, almost as an apology in compiling this top brunches in Abu Dhabi I did not have a chance to cover a one or two other brunches, including Terrace on the Corniche at St Regis, one of last year's best. Based on people in the know, it would have sailed into my top 10 again. This will be remedied in the next year.

Finally, the idea that champagne maketh the brunch has been debunked with 3 of my top 10 brunches serving Prosecco.I am a self-confessed lover of the French stuff, but I do commend the branches that have gone ahead without, challenging the norm. 

Here follows the best brunches in Abu Dhabi 2017.

10. Koi, Saadiyat Island.

This is the third year now that Koi has featured in my Top 10. Despite the popularity of sushi in this region, it is still an achievement for a Japanese brunch to do well because it such a niche brunch. A fairly in-crowd takes up the style this brunch ensuring it is 
both classy and sophisticated but brought down to earth by staff who have really taken service levels closer to the good old days, after a lull a year ago. 

It is also one of few brunches where you are likely to see Japanese guests, a reflection of how much they like it here. This is one of few table brunches in the city, so be assured you will not be standing in line for your dishes. Highlights on the set menu remain the Miso glazed black cod and Wagyu tataki.But my new favourite is the Wagyu braised short ribs. 

The Collection,
Within the St Regis Island Resort, Abu Dhabi
(Independently managed)
+971 2 6783334

345 AED with Soft beverages 
455 AED with Regular Alcohol 

515 AED with Sparkling wine 
595 AED with Champagne
Champagne: GH Mumm NV

10 Aqua, Rosewood Hotel. 

This brunch has been a personal favourite of mine from the time that the hotel launched it about 4 years ago at my beloved Rosewood, still my favourite hotel in the city.  The brunch offers something for both young and old, with one of only two brunches with a genuine dedicated kids brunch. Its connection to SLOW has helped it cement its place with loyalists who are not typical brunchers. 

The stand-out feature is the staff - make sure you seat yourself near the gorgeous terrace bar where you will  see what I mean. The use of the Glo Bar gives guests that feeling that they are at a bar rather than a brunch. In terms of food stations, live stations should have all bases covered, with the tandoor and Butcher stations offering great creations. But there is also  a Lebanese and Cantonese station that proves popular. Finally, the after-brunch experience at Glo comes at great value!

Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi
+971 2 813 5550

Gourmet Food and Soft Drinks 285 AED++
Connoisseur Food, Grapes, Hops and Mixology 385 AED ++
Gastronome Food, Grapes, Hops, Mixology and Bubbly 450 
Champagne: Veuve Cliquot NV

9. BOA Steakhouse, Eastern Mangroves Promenade

BOA Steakhouse makes my top 10 despite not being at its best. It is still an excellent brunch. Located at the Eastern Mangroves Promenade, views of the mangroves while sipping a glass of champagne is not the worst thing in the world. This American steakhouse with a tradition of dry aged beef offers a brunch of amazing value, with the highlight obviously a  full sized quality cut of beef. The rest of the menu, served at your table, will delight first time comers although regulars will ask for some innovation. 

Make sure you have the Goat cheese baklava, still a winner after all these years. Finally, Champagne package holders have a premium drinks selection,making BOA Steakhouse one of 3 or so brunches making this distinction, as it should be. Overall, a stylish brunch where it is mainly about the food.

BOA Steakhouse,
Eastern Mangroves Promenade

+971 2 641 1500

345 AED Soft drinks
455 AED  House Beverages
595 AED Premium Beverages incl champagne
Champagne: GH Mumm NV

8. Saturlaze at Finz, Beach Rotana

My favourite seafood restaurant has come up with a Saturday brunch that I absolutely love. It is the only seafood restaurant that makes the top 10. The setting, in the hotel but not in it, if you will, removed from the main building adds  a certain charm to it. It is aesthetically a winner, with indoors and the terrace offering something worth chatting about at the water the next day. It is the sexiest restaurant in the top 10 as well, backed by beautiful people waiting on guests. 

This table brunch has only 4 courses but incredibly runs 4 hours, doing justice to its name, Satur-laze! The seafood stand is just the perfect way to announce you're ata seafood brunch. I commend them for sticking to a seafood-only concept; restaurants are far too inclined to bend over backwards for an extra dirham. Also, top class entertainment by DJ Miki Love adds that touch of fun but class to a super nice brunch. Finally, at 370AED, this is an excellent option to end your Saturday on a high.

Finz Restaurant, Bar & Lounge
Beach Rotana, 
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 697 9000

The Classic 290AED Soft drinks and Mocktails
The Elaborate 370AED Prosecco and Wine 
Bubbly - Fantinel Prosecco. 

7. Frangipani at Zaya Nurai Island

No brunch can surely compete with the Nurai Island experience? It is a brunch that starts the moment you leave the welcome centre on Saadiyat Island as you board a boat to Nurai. It is a genuine getaway that allows you to recharge your spirit as you find yourself surrounded by beach, trees and very fresh air. Brunch is set  a few meters from the beach and I found myself walking on the beach, bare feet, with a glass of bubbly in hand. The brunch has options for people to sit down, have a bite and go for a swim and then come back to the table. 

The island is great for walking, so a nice twenty minute during brunch is also an option. Or, you can opt for a 10-15 shoulder massage, again with a glass of bubbly in your hand. The brunch on Nurai island works for the whole family or even for a couple hoping to have some romantic time away from the steel and concrete of the city. As far as food goes, look no further than the dishes prepared in the tandoor, my favourite for two years running! Don't be put off by the 900AED price - you get your amazing value for your day away.

Zaya Nurai island, Abu Dhabi
The Terrace Brunch
971 2 506 6222

550AED ++ soft drinks
650AED ++ wine
750AED ++ bubbly
Champagne: Veuve Clicquot NV

6. Giornotte at The Ritz Carlton.

The big brunch. Literally. I have always loved the food at the Ritz Carlton brunch and 2017 saw this continue. The quality of the dishes at the live stations are probably the best, dish for dish, at a brunch with this concept. The chefs have nothing but my respect for what they are doing. Kudos also to to the chefs for making a  big brunch like this quite personalised by caring about how dishes are plated.

The brunch also has the original cheese room in Abu Dhabi and a dedicated dessert room that is just a  piece of heaven. As for highlights? Basically, visit the live stations and you will not be disappointed. My favourites are the foie gras, scallops and Indonesian chicken! This year the brunch has become more relaxed and much less stiff than in previous years and I can actually use the words fun and Ritz Carlton Brunch in one line thanks to some innovative entertainment. 

Giornotte at Ritz Carlton,
Abu Dhabi
+971 28188282
1-4pm on Fridays

295 AED++ soft drinks package 
395 AED++ wine, cocktails and beers
495 AED++ with Henri Abele Champagne

5. Coya

It is a small brunch in the sense that no matter where you are seated, you never feel part of a big brunch. In fact, I regard it as quite an intimate brunch because of the way the restaurant has been laid out. The part-buffet part-a la carte brunch serves tremendous Peruvian cuisine with piquant flavours. Among the manin courses, there are some outstanding choices but look no further than  the sea bass risotto. Exceptional. 

There is a Chivas Real station dispensing some Chivas based cocktails and of course an Aperol Spritz station. There is something very classy about the way the drinks are dispensed from stations nicely constructed. Finally, in addition to wines offered, the champagne is Veuve Cliquot NV. The restaurant is one of a handful in the city with a sommelier on the floor. 

Finally, the entrainment. For me there is no brunch more vibey than the one at Coya. The band really get people into the Laino spirit and you will feel it even in the staff who join in. They have cured me from the bad memories of bad jazz being done to death at brunches. 

(next to Four Seasons Hotel / Galleria Mall)
Al Maryah Island,
Abu Dhabi
Coya+971 2 306 7000

278 AED soft drinks
448 AED Wine and cocktails
548 AED Veuve Clicquot, cocktails and wine

5. Olea, St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

The brunch that in many ways changed drinks at brunches in the city. When they launched it about 3 years ago, they were the first brunch that paid attention to the difference in price to mid range and premium packages by offering premium drinks to champagne package holders. They changed the way we have cocktails as well. It created  a dessert station that spoke to kids and to the child inside every adult. This has continued into 2017. 

The brunch is classy in every way, from the musicians to the staff in their new uniforms. The new brunch has seen some innovations with a tandoor the highlight for me. Old favourites remain like the legendary Cheese room and the unmatched offerings that come from its 55&5th serving area. Of course there is the absolutely gorgeous setting, with views of the turquoise waters met with sips of bubbly. Finally, for the joint-best drinks selections at a brunch, this is your venue. 

St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
Abu Dhabi
971 2 498 8888
St Regis Saadiyat Brunch


Silk Package 390 AED Juices and Mocktails
Pearl Package 520 AEDHouse wines, A range of cocktails
Diamond Package  740 AED Louis Roederer Champagne, Premium Wine, Spirits and Beers

4. Tamba, World Trade Centre

My favourite restaurant in the city, has a brunch that is not actually a brunch. Determined to eschew the traditional brunch concept of a brunch and join a handful of restaurants offering a more personalised experience. Of course, I am not sure how they would feel at Tamba being on my list because they prefer to see themselves as offering a 'lazy lunch'. Expect around 20 dishes to be served at your table with very little clock watching by staff, bringing home the idea of a lazy afternoon. 

The food is excellent and of if ever you are looking for a foodie's brunch, this is it. The drinks side is still a work in progress but the cocktails on offer do excite. Service is of course among the best and i have always rated the staff at tamba up there with Zuma and now Cafe Milano - staff fit effortlessly into the Tamba ethos. Outstanding dishes? A series of highs among the dishes, but the Wagyu for 2 with a glass of red? Fantastic! Finally, their Sundowners has to rank as the best post-brunch affair in the city. 

Overall, a 'brunch that is not a brunch' of this quality and stature at under 350AED? Insanely brilliant. 

The Hub,
World Trade Centre Mall,
Abu Dhabi
+971 672 8888

225 AED Soft Drinks
340 AED Prosecco and Cocktails

3. Brunch in the Clouds, St Regis Abu Dhabi

A brunch that, conceptually, remains the best. What is promised is delivered - luxury and exclusivity. This remains the brunch to see and be seen, with so many extras which make the price seem like a bargain. A private elevator to the highest suspended suite in the world, in a space with no more than 50 guests. As much as I love my daughter, I am happy that it has a no kids policy. A huge seafood room, dessert room and  a set menu as well. The set menu is such that you need member take anything from the stations littered around the suite - except of course the caviar station that is a must do. 

A manicure and a  shoulder massage in the suite's Remede Spa are just two of the added value elements that will make you the envy of your friends as you trade brunch stories. Highlights - still of the best risotto I have had in the city. Finally, the Champagne sabering remains a ritual that excites me every time I witness it.  Elegant. Luxurious. 

The Brunch in The Clouds
St Regis Hotel
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 6944444

Last Friday of each month

650 AED Soft drinks
900 AED Louis Roederer Champagne

2. Zuma

Zuma is a phenomenon. Everyone knows that. Its brunch has been immensely popular the last three years and it has become known for its enviable service thanks to well chosen staff who exude confidence and also a worldly view on everything. However, last year, even though I had then in my top 10, I did feel it has not been innovating much because it is Zuma. If that was my feeling last year, then I have been put straight this year. Zuma
has kept to its basics of offering superb dishes matched by tremendous staff but has added a few exciting things. Caviar,a ribeye and flatfish table service complement the fantastic spread that is already there. The changes have gone to the drinks as well, with Zuma's drinks selection having gone up a few notches, highlighted by the switch to the superior Bollinger Brut Special Cuveé, making it one of the best bubblies at a  brunch in the city. 

Sowwah Square
Al Maryah island,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 401 5900

kitsu 345 AED 
including non alcoholic beverages and zuma cleansers
kowaku 445 AED
including prosecco, sommelier's selection of wines/beer
kyasha 555 AED
Bollinger Champagne, sake tasters, selection of wines/beer 
1. Cafe Milano

The number one brunch in Abu Dhabi. It is also the cheapest of all the brunches featured of the brunches listed here. Cafe Milano is an exquisite restaurant that offers beautiful Italian fare. First, everything about it is so fine, from the crisp white table cloths to the china and silver. Staff are well trained, equally well spoken and know their product. Thanks to a sufficient number of Italian staff on the floor, you are never left with a feeling that the restaurant lacks authenticity. Of course, there is an Italian kitchen backed by the Executive Chef Franco Sangiacomo. 

The table brunch, in fairness, like the table brunches featured in this top 10, debunks the idea that set menus do not offer enough food - the spirit of abundance is as evident here as it is a t a lavish buffet. In recent times, the restaurant has featured dishes from specific Italian regions, making that journey through Italian cuisine more meaningful. This is where Italian staff on the floor play such a pivotal role. When you are guided through your menu, you will have a sense that there was no training needed by the waiter - he has lived it, so what training do you need for that? 

The brunch comprises 4 courses -  an enviable selection of antipasti which is followed by the pasta course. Both of these are based on a family style. There are usually two types of pasta served. Them the main course is a choice of two and this is followed by dessert. It is a lot of food, but sensible portions ensure that you will be able to experience a lot of dishes. 

Cafe Milano shows successfully that you do not need to serve champagne at a brunch to ensure a great afternoon. But this is because they offer a good quality sparkling. They offer the Bianca Vigna Prosecco, and a rosé too. I cannot help but recommend both these. In addition to these, there are three wines exclusively bottled for Cafe Milano Abu Dhabi, something that runs against the trend in Abu Dhabi. Finally, cocktails including my favourites at the moment and perfect for brunch, Mimosas  Bellinis and of course Aperol Spritz. 

Overall, a sophisticated and stylish brunch which has the best of everything - food, drinks, staff and ambiance. 

Cafe Milano
Al Maryah Island,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 3332600
12-4pm on Saturdays

250 AED++ Prosecco package
190 AED ++ Soft drinks
60 AED ++ Kids