DETAILS: Dhs275 (house beverages), Dhs198 (after-party package), Dhs385 (both packages). Fri noon-4pm (brunch), 4pm-8pm (after-party). Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).
Sometimes, when the weekend rolls round, you’re keen to don your glad rags and ready yourself (and your wallet) for an upmarket foodie brunch. Other times all you want to do is spend a lazy afternoon with your mates, eating your bodyweight in unpretentious fried food while indulging in a hyper-competitive game of table football. When the latter occasion arises, Stars ’N’ Bars is where you go.
The casual US joint at Yas Marina may well have originated in swanky Monaco, but there’s no high-end fussiness here.
The package is more than reasonable, being Dhs275 for house beverages (which the efficient, friendly staff are not at all stingy with), plus endless quantities of prime American diner-style grub.
You won’t be disappointed by the food – all the classic US dishes you know and love are on the menu. If we had one criticism it would be that it’s perhaps a little samey, but if you don’t mind fried stuff or guacamole, you’ll be fine. And there’s certainly plenty of it.
We kick off with some nachos (and guac), and corn with cajun butter, lime mayo sprinkled with cheese. The latter is super-tasty – fresh yet rich – but comes as a bowl of kernels. Isn’t half the fun of corn making a mess and munching it off the cob?
A substantial portion of fish tacos arrives next – all crispy batter, white meaty fish and tangy pico de gallo. It’s a hit. Other early highlights are the corndogs, which are the best kind of bad food.
You can reorder the starters as many times as you like. We do just that and end up moving on to main courses too late.
At this stage the margherita pizza is perhaps unnecessary. but we’re not complaining about the delightfully cheesy carb fest. Other main of fajitas (sizzling, spicy and delicious), a burger (nothing to write home about) and cajun chicken jambalaya (superb) finish us off.
Our Best Party Brunch, Funch, has also moved to the venue, adding a riotous vibe. It means great music from DJ Cliff Townley (spanning chart, funky house and classics from the ’80s and ’90s), giant Connect 4, hops pong and a limbo contest (all of which result in a spin of the prizes wheel, with all kinds of fun things on offer) and host Sugie Reaves prowling around egging everyone on. The option of buying into an eight-hour package (Dhs395) only adds to the anything-goes atmosphere, especially when The International Playboys take to the stage at 4pm.
The food’s good, the games are fun and the afternoon is a brilliant way to spend your day.
The bottom line
Quality and quantity of both fun and food.