We’ve had more than a few good meals at Hilton Abu Dhabi over the years. Bocca, its authentic Italian, has wowed us in the past with its warm hospitality and tasty flavours, while the Chinese offering Jade (previously the Royal Orchid) has been just as good, too.
The two restaurants, together with the hotel’s all-day dining venue, La Terrazza, host Brunch Around the World, one of two Friday brunches at the Hilton.
Seating for the feast is spread across La Terrazza and Bocca, with Jade setting up its counter just steps away. The vibe is pretty laid-back as far as brunches go. There’s a one-man band on duty, who serenades you with hits old and new, and a cheerful clown to entertain younger guests. There’s also an activities table for kids and a special menu.
There’s not a dizzying amount of food for grown-ups, but it’s enough to pick from. The selection of antipasti at Bocca is limited, but very good. You will find a duo of bruschetta, cured meats and servings of salads. The one that’s a must-try is the fregola salad. For the unfamiliar, fregola is a pellet-shaped pasta with a bit of a bite and works well in dishes like this. Here, it is served with fresh vegetables.
Unfortunately, Jade’s soup, dim sum and sushi don’t compare in quality. And the nibbles at La Terrazza aren’t as exciting. That being said, the main selections of Middle Eastern mixed grills and chicken curry are well done. The kebabs are succulent and very flavourful. The Indian curry is bold and best enjoyed with a hot, buttery naan.
For the mains at Bocca, chef Leonardo is happy to whip up a delicious bowl of pasta as he indulges you in a little light-hearted banter. If you’re more of a pizza-lover, you will be satisfied with the hot-from-the-oven offerings here. Just be careful not to burn yourself on the bubbling cheese.
For dessert, we suggest you stick around at Bocca. Hiding in the cheese room you’ll find classics like tiramisu, panna cotta and cannoli. Served in little teacups, the tiramisu does not disappoint. A strong coffee flavour ripples through the cream and savoiardi layers. But, if you’re after a dessert that will warm you up and give you a hug, the traditional umm ali from La Terrazza’s dessert counter should be your pick. It’s the best sweet bite the all-day dining venue has to offer.
Throughout the afternoon, it’s clear that Bocca is where the real action is at, and we reckon it could hold its own Friday feast without relying on Jade, which lets the side down somewhat at the moment.
Dhs225 (soft drinks), Dhs325 (house beverages), Dhs113 (kids aged six-12), free (kids under five). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road (02 681 1900).
The bottom line
Bocca’s food is great, but the other outlets need to improve.