Our first impressions of Al Raha’s new “Seafood Brunch” are that there doesn’t seem to be much seafood around. What we see are the regular buffet options, plus a small fish counter and sushi station.
There isn’t much of a brunching atmosphere to speak of, either, with less than a dozen tables in the expansive lobby restaurant occupied. There are a few more people outside, which is probably for the best as the live band is too much for us to bear. Perhaps the hotel needs to rethink the entertainment for this one. Meanwhile, the buffet comprises an international selection of dishes – from classic Middle Eastern fare, such as lamb ouzi and grilled meats, to Indian curries, a carvery and more. However, seeing as the emphasis is on seafood, we decide to dive in at that counter.
The seafood starters are a predictable collection of smoked salmon, steamed prawns and squid, mussels and smoked mackerel, which, while presentable, is devoid of real inspiration. A tray of lemon pepper lobster tails does tickle our fancy and, while the flavours are pleasant, the minimal amount of flesh in the tails means you’ll need several to be satisfied.
From the rest of the starters and salads, the sliced cold roast beef with green asparagus looks the most tempting, but the meat is dry and chewy. As for the main courses, we recommend avoiding the tandoori shrimps. They manage the rather impressive feat of being dry, rubbery and mushy all in one bite. The fish masala we eat alongside it is tasty, however, with just the right amount of spice to make it enjoyable without overwhelming your palate.
We head to the sushi station with mixed feelings, given what has gone before, but it certainly cheers our mood. The sushi chef will prepare your made-to-order rolls. The maki is well put together and the sashimi is clearly fresh.
Then we head to the carvery, where a black pepper prime rib is on offer. The rib looks great and is resplendent with Yorkshire puddings and gravy. However, our hopes are dashed once more by chewy beef. This time it comes with bland gravy and dense Yorkshires. But we soldier on and try some of the limited cheese selection and a respectable Umm Ali from the desserts.
While you’ll undoubtedly find something in the selection worth eating, this brunch pales in comparison to similarly-priced deals found elsewhere in the city.
The bottom line
The hotel might need to rethink the theme, food and entertainment.
Dhs195 (soft drinks), Dhs290 (house beverages), Dhs117 (kids aged six-12), free (kids under five). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Al Raha Beach Hotel, Al Raha Beach (02 508 0555).