Brunch review: Friday brunch at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi

A global spread with some vegan options

Brunch review: Friday brunch at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi
Brunch review: Friday brunch at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi Image #2

One of abu Dhabi’s more established Friday brunches, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr’s has been cruising along consistently for several years. But the arrival of Marco’s New York Italian to the hotel has injected new flavour and flair to the experience.

Snaking down the corridor towards CuiScene, the spread is a globe-trotting assortment of seafood on ice and live cooking stations, doner-shaving stands and an entire room of arty desserts.

And it’s all very relaxed. Bring your wife, bring your mates, bring your great aunt Mildred, but don’t necessarily bring the kids (there’s little in the way of entertainment, particularly that parents can keep eyes on). That relaxed vibe extends to the service, which could hardly be described as swift – but you can always break up the wait with a roam around the buffet.

One of the most notable new additions to this brunch is its vegan section – a large fridge featuring a small assortment of salads, sushi rolls and wraps. It’s not vast, but it’s a step in the right direction, even if it does simultaneously serve to highlight the lack of hot options for meat- and dairy-dodgers.

That said, there’s a real sense that Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is attempting to appeal to all palates. There are mini caviar blinis, a live foie gras station and extravagant roasted meats, just a few steps from a kebab-carving stand and tiny taco cart. A small spread of sushi features fresh, if not enormously exciting rolls, while the cold seafood stand serves up an abundance of cracked crab legs, and an equally generous helping of razor clams, the popularity of which may have been overestimated by the hotel...

Without doubt, the highlight of the brunch is the offering from Marco’s New York Italian. Piping-hot mini calzones crammed with pepperoni or vegetables are surprisingly superb – and worth breaking your no-bread-at-brunch rule for. Equally impressive is the live pasta station, featuring freshly rolled and cut tagliatelle in a choice of sauces (another one worth abandoning your principles for).

Desserts and cheeses form the remaining highlights, with a vast selection of each to unleash your appetite on.

If it’s still knocking around (and alas, these things do change), skip the panettone bread pudding at your own peril – it really
gives the neighbouring Umm Ali a run for its creamy crown.

But truly, it’s top marks all round to the pastry chef here.

What we could do without for the duration of the brunch is the live entertainment, which misses the tone of the afternoon almost entirely. It could be that the sound didn’t travel well to the outdoor area. But then again, maybe that’s not it.

For a long-stander, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr’s Friday spread makes a valiant effort to keep up with the competition. But it’ll need to match the standards of Marco’s across the board if it wants a real run at the top spot.
Dhs345 (soft drinks), Dhs459 (house beverages), Dhs645 (bubbly). Fri noon-4pm. Khor Al Maqta (02 654 3333).

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