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.
Fire & Spice Friday Brunch at Yas Island Rotana - Abu Dhabi
Value for money. This remains the big buzz word in Abu Dhabi when it comes to hospitality. We find ourselves in a 2 for 1 subculture where people are very reluctant to spend a lot of money for a day out. We find hotels trying to add value to experiences instead of 2 for 1 deals. The latter is the approach that Yas Island Rotana has taken with its Fire & Spice Brunch on Fridays.
Two brunches for the price of one
They have turned the two for one concept upside down - the guest is the one who gets two brunch experiences while paying for one. Choices, traditionally the brunch-serving venue at the hotel, has joined with Rangoli, one of the best Indian restaurants in the city and among my top 2 picks, to give guests a Friday brunch that is all about options. Booking any one of the two gives access to the other.
Rangoli, also with terrace seating, is more intimate and lends itself to guests who would rather not have children around. There is nothing about it that says 'children', giving guests this option then. There are 4 main courses to choose from, from Butter chicken to Dal Makhni, all the classics. What is extra special about this part of the brunch is that guests get their starters in the kitchen, something new and exciting. Honestly, this is also the real foodie side of the day with intense favours. Also, because the space is smaller and there are fewer guests compared to Choices, service is a bit more personalised and attentive.
They are two very different experiences and I believe they cater for all people. Choices is very much a family brunch experience with some dishes geared towards children. A buffet holds great appeal for children too. Expect the usual dishes you would find at a brunch with a buffet. There is a big area dedicated to Arabic dishes, with the cold mezze something to try. There is a modest selection of seafood including oysters but I personally enjoyed the sushi. There was also a nice selection of Asian dishes , with the Japanese yaki udon noodles and Nasi goreng my favourites. However, it is the dessert selection that got most of my attention, with the the 'Stuff your own' profiteroles super fun.
Connecting, if you will, Choices and Rangoli, was the FIRE element in the Brunch experience - a BBQ station outside with the obvious highlight the 72 hour braised beef ribs. This is as good as I have had at many a brunch - highly recommended. Make sure to try one of two red wines on offer to go along with your ribs. You cannot go wrong with that. Incidentally, there are also two white wines available, in addition to Prosecco.
Images from the excellent Dessert Station at Choices
Overall, the brunch is very family friendly. With swimming pool access, a jumping castle and face painter ensured that children were taken care of while there was a musician who provided some nice entertainment. He takes requests, so don't be shy to ask. His set included mainly classic rock pieces which went down well with yours truly. Also,
I liked the idea of moving between brunches. The thing is Rangoli has beautiful dishes, but selling an Indian brunch is a challenge because in Abu Dhabi people associate certain dishes like oysters and sushi with the brunch experience. People generally want their buffet at a Friday brunch, otherwise, to them it is not brunch. Choices is what most people want at a brunch - a lot of dishes to choose from and a generous dessert selection. Put them together and it is really two brunches in one. There are hotels that allow guests to move from restaurant to restaurant at their brunch and I think it is a good idea. Yas Island Rotana has done the same thing and I think it works too. Finally, at 208AED and 308AED net, the benefit to the guest is felt even on the money side of things. These are very good prices for a brunch in Abu Dhabi. So, if you like a typical brunch ambience that is busy and with a lot of international dishes, then Choices is for you. If you prefer something more relaxed with superb dishes, then Rangoli is perfect. If you prefer both, you can have them for the same price!