If you want to kick off your weekend with a brunch in Abu Dhabi those in the know head to the Intercontinental Hotel to spend a few hours attempting to consume what’s on offer in their Marina Brunch. It’s Friday afternoon, and there are two restaurants where you can choose to sit and indulge in their never-ending banquet of food.
We’re in the Yacht Club which overlooks the Marina and the sparkling wine is flowing like water, the strains of ‘Dancing Queen’ can just about be heard over the laughter and general banter, and everywhere you look people are eating, drinking and having a brilliant time. There’s food within touching distance wherever you walk, and it’s Danny Kattar, the hotel’s Executive Chef, who had the idea of bringing the different cuisines of the hotel’s restaurants together for one day each week. You can sample Asian food from the Yacht Club, Italian from Boccaccio, meat from the Chamas Churrascaria & Bar and moules and frites from the Belgian Beer Cafe – there are live cooking stations which also add to the experience.
Our table is large, round and at the top of a terraced seating area and we’re cooled by a monster fan. An excellent extraction system sucks up the smoke from cigarettes so effectively I forget it’s allowed here.
As you walk around the ‘Theatre of Food’, there’s a chef cooking up pasta of all shapes and sizes, with any sauce you fancy;
sushi and sashimi;
moules with a variety of creamy sauces and the freshest of crunchy fat chips to go with them.
There’s an area totally dedicated to pork and its various cuts – I can whole-heartedly recommend the sauce-dripping ribs,
and then there’s the seafood platters, along with
oysters and a host of different salads.
In the Chamas restaurant there’s a rotisserie spinning with huge cuts of beef
where you can choose your cut and cooked preference from rare to well done
there are also whole pineapples being given the grilled treatment and a planet-sized serving platter of Paella.
You’re guaranteed to leave full, there’s no way you’ll go hungry as there’s every type of food for every palate and diet and the three hundred or so customers have turned up for today’s brunch are having a ball.
The Chamas Restaurant is equally packed but there’s a slightly different vibe in here.
All the staff that work in the Yacht Club have various boat-related titles and it’s Randy who’s the skipper – he’s assisted by First Officers and Navigators all of whom are walking around making sure glasses are topped up and plates cleared.
For a bargain 290 Dirham (£52) you’re issued with a blue wristband which entitles you to all the food you can eat and all the sparkling wine, red and white wine, Fosters, and cocktails you can consume before the restaurants either close or run out of food. For those who don’t drink it’s 250 Dirham (£45) for again, limitless non-alcoholic drinks and juices.
As the corks pop we choose two Martini’s (which aren’t included in the wristband offer) because Alan who’s a First Officer does a great job of selling their home-made infused vodkas to us – after which we just can’t refuse the Watermelon Martini or the Spiced Caramel Espresso Macaroon Martini, both 65 Dirham (£11). My Watermelon Martini is exactly as I expect and like rocket fuel, Mum has the Vanilla Kettel One infused with home-made spiced caramel syrup, it’s finished off with coffee beans and a Macaroon and by her with relative ease.
We scan the food on offer, skipping between the various rooms and cooking stations and try the sushi, sashimi, steak, ribs salad – everything is fresh and full of flavour but a word to the wise, bring an empty stomach and your drinking boots. The steak was superb and the prawns big and juicy. Mum is a seafood-lover and goes for the prawns, salmon and lots of the salad.
After two glasses of sparkling wine and a cocktail each, we were spent (well that’s what our buttons were telling us). Even though, we’re both massive dessert fans we don’t manage a slice of the beautiful cakes and pastries on offer or the chocolate fountain.
My mum thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere in the Yacht Club even though I thought at times she’d be bothered by the music she wasn’t. Like everyone else she was soaking up the atmosphere and when the ladies from the next table began singing to each other we weren’t sure whether to join in or clap.
There’s an outside terrace if the sun’s not too fierce but today it’s just far too hot, there’s a plan for regular live music to be played in the cooler months.
My advice to anyone going to this brilliant value-for-money buffet is stake out what’s on offer first then pace yourself, this is very much a marathon and not a sprint. If you’re bothered by louder music, I suggest you book to eat in the Chamas restaurant which is a little quieter in comparison to the Yacht Club. The food, atmosphere and price makes this a must-go brunch destination and is clearly popular with all-ages.
Marina Brunch at the Intercontinental Hotel is on offer from noon to 1600. Book here.
We were guests of the Intercontinental Hotel.