With winter comes comes the return of one of our favourite pastimes – al fresco brunching. And there are few places better to sit and enjoy the winter sun, with a massive platter of food in front of you, than at The Market Brunch at the Saadiyat Rotana.
A pretty terrace sits amid the lush green gardens of the sprawling resort – with a view of the swimming pool lending a chilled-out holiday vibe. The setting makes for a relaxing Friday – and come hungry as there’s plenty you’ll want try at this massive buffet brunch. So much so that there’s a map of live stations and counters on the table and signposts, should you happen to get lost between the cheese spread and the roast dinner.
Inside the restaurant is bustling with families and groups all enjoying an afternoon out. Staff are attentive and fast, bringing drinks to the tables and clearing swiftly.
Grape (which, admittedly isn’t the best selection and is the only let down of the brunch) is served to the table, while for the wide variety of mixed drinks head outside to one of several dedicated stations.
We settle into our table and enjoy the views while we consider the map and ponder our first move. Brunches like this require a dedicated plan of action – and more than one empty-handed loop around the buffet. Choose too soon and you might be left disappointed when you’re too full to wolf down a lobster or slab of roast beef (you’ve been warned).
While there’s everything you can think of at this extensive market-style buffet (it’s theme is on point, right down to the vegetable stall set up outside and wooden crates indoors), the seafood is the star of the show here, and where this brunch really shines.
A huge counter of chilled seafood is brimming with baby octopus, calamari, gigantic mussels, crabs legs and plump, juicy prawns. There’s also smoked salmon, tuna tartare, sushi and a dedicated oyster bar.
We’d suggest you kick off with this pescatarian selection – it’s wonderfully fresh and tasty. If you’re not a fish fan, fret not, as there’s plenty more to satsify you, from mounds of crisp salads to smooth and creamy hummus, tangy stuffed vineleaves, steaming pillowy dim sum and charred satay.
Love Indian food? Take a gander to the far side of the restaurant and sample some grilled paneer or rich, fragrant butter chicken. Fancy an Arabic grill?
There’s a shawarma station outside. Really, it’s all superb, which is impressive for an operation of this size.
There’s also a dedicated fish market-style counter, which is a welcome touch. Choose your catch, take it outside to the grill and await your lunch. You won’t regret it.
Also don’t forget to take a break and enjoy the live music from the musical duo, which is interspersed with a laid-back DJ set.
If you’ve followed your plan correctly, you should have room for cheese. And if you have, congratulations, both for your self-restraint and for the rewards you’ll get. Gooey brie, smoked mozzarella, burrata, hard cheeses, goat’s cheeses and a massive Parmesan wheel make up your choices.
Kids will be well catered for, too, with plenty of bite-sized dishes and colourful desserts.
With a lively vibe, fantastic food and a super setting, even if buffet brunches aren’t your usual choice, this one is well worth trying.
Dhs350 (soft drinks), Dhs495 (house beverages), Dhs595 (bubbly), Dhs165 (kids aged five to 11). Fri 1pm-4pm. Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas, Saadiyat Island (02 697 0000).
WHAT IS IT...
Large, family-friendly buffet brunch that’s ideal for winter weather
The seafood. And the cheese. And the setting. Just go already