El Sur Saturday brunch - The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina

I had no intention of writing about my last brunch before Ramdan as I walked in to The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort.  I simply wanted a peaceful afternoon with no pen, paper and food porn. However, as I looked around  the restaurant, I remained committed to not taking out a pen and paper, but I had to take pics and would blog from memory. So readers, forgive this post if it lacks the details you come to appreciate in food writing.

A dramatic welcome
  The sculpture at the entrance immediately and simply tells you where you are.  A sculpture made of wire and cloth depicting a half man-half bull matador holding a muleta serves to contextualise the restaurant on so many levels: contemporary, simple and cool. A quick glance around the room reveals a hanging garden, a number of natural oak wood tables, wooden floors and a great deal of natural light - the natural theme is very strong here and as I was to discover, would be reflected in the emphasis on natural ingredients on the menu.

Hanging garden 
El Sur - a celebration of art and food. 

As I am shown to my table, I look through the glass doors to see a gorgeous al fresco dining area and I lament the fact that it is so hot out there! Paintings with explosive colours are a tasteful and integral part of the decor in this restaurant. Finally, the cool beats played really set the tone for the afternoon.

I am given a simple menu, but I am familiar with the tapas style brunch on offer here and I am excited. Regular readers will know that unless I am with my daughter, I love the more intimate, sit down style brunches that are becoming so popular in Abu Dhabi.

I start off with a glass of Frontera Chardonnay, a Chilean wine perfect for the warm afternoon - hints of pineapple and citrus made it quite refreshing. Very light. Nice.

The restaurant is very casual and relaxed. This is accentuated by waiters and waitresses who are not dressed in uniform. Furthermore, there are no table cloths or coasters.
The appetisers in the background featuring fantastic olives.
Before the starters, the waiter serves a really nice selection of crisps, olives and dips. The dictum that the essence of beauty is simplicity  is driven home. No fan fare. The olives are delicious - fresh and flavourful.

For my starter I had quite a feast.

Iberian Pork Selection
Padron Green Peppers
Selection of croquetas
Russian salad
Garlic and chili prawns

Again the presentation of many of these dishes are in-keeping with the spirit of the restaurant. An unadordorned breadboard with the pork selection, fresh diced and seasoned tomatoes for bruschetta. I am not sure what the vibe is at dinner time, but for a Saturday, the feeling is relaxed. I find the croquettes made to my liking - as I bite into them, the crisp outside makes way for  creamy soft centre that delights. Yum.
Simplicity meets taste

I really love the pork selection and finish every last bit. Also, the prawns are  beautifully cooked and the dish has just the level of saltiness I have come to enjoy in food from this region.

What is a Spanish restaurant without some paella? In this case it is a seafood and chicken paella. The paella has a golden brown colour and is not overwhelmed by ingredients - paella is,  after all, about the rice. The elements come together nicely on the plate and none of them are overcooked. However, having heartily indulged in the starters, I find that I am able to have only a small portion of the. It is quite a substantial serving. Note, though, that portions are ideal for 2 people.

The prawns - part of a superb range of starters.
Paella - their signature dish. 

Finally, my dessert is served.

White chocolate mousse with mango coulis
Dark chocolate cake with peanut butter ice cream

I enjoy it with gusto, but my favourite is the mousse dessert because it offers so much complexity in terms of tastes: the tangy sorbet and raspberry go ever so well with the sweeter mousse. Delicious.

White chocolate mousse
Dark chocolate cake.

If there was one disappointing note for me, I would have to say the service. I found it a bit aloof with minimum engagement. Don't get me wrong, it was according to the manual, but therein is the problem. Service needs to throw out the training book at times, especially in a cosy and intimate arty restaurant such as this.

Overall, El Sur made a great escape from the run of the mill brunches. It is a stylish place where simplicity is the order of the day, pushing food to the forefront. I will definitely go back to in the cooler months to try their brunch al fresco. Oh come on Autumn!

The low down

The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina
Jumeirah Beach
04 399 3333

Saturday brunch
Sabroso 195 Dhs (soft drinks)
Delicioso 295 Dhs (incl sangria and wine)

Note that during Ramadan there will be no brunch.