We must confess, we are not entirely sure quite what a ‘Neo-Baroque mystic-lounge concept’ is when we make our way to the super stylish Barfly by Buddha-Bar – but we soon find out we like it.
That’s the description given to the Venetian Village venue by its bosses, who have turned it into one of the capital’s coolest destinations, after already winning over the fashionable sets in Los Angeles and Paris.
Upon arrival at the cosy yet chic spot, it is easy to see why it scooped a Highly Commended gong in the bar category at our Music and Nightlife Awards last year. It’s a great place to hang out after dark, but we are hungry to discover how it fares with a Friday daytime feast.
It’s clear from the outset that Barfly goes all out for brunch. We are greeted by a long line of chefs taking command at a host of food stations. Barfly specialises in pan-Asian food and our eyes light up at the sight of row after row of sushi and sashimi, an extensive salad bar and even duck pancakes rolled to your liking by the deft hands of one of the fleet of the gastronomic gurus on site.
There is a choice of seating close to the action in the elegant dining area or sitting outside on the pretty terrace, with lovely views out over the beach and turquoise waters.
We take up residence outside (though the summer heat may soon make this more difficult) to watch speedboats cruise by and swimmers take a dip in the calm waters as we eat.
The sushi is a highlight, fresh and packed with fantastic flavour. We can’t wait for a second helping. The chunky prawns are a delicious addition, while the duck pancakes are filled with tender, tasty meat and a hoisin sauce that really enhances the flavour.
The array of superb salads and cheeses make for a nice change of pace, before three excellent dishes of lamb chops, then a barbecued lobster and then crispy and golden coloured tempura battered prawns are all brought to our table by one of the affable and helpful staff.
We are already struggling to make room for more food, but it tastes so good we make another dart to the buffet tables before polishing off a delicious fruit skewer, chosen from a set menu of main course dishes, which also includes
an avocado-topped mini-burger and a salmon pizza.
Meanwhile, the relaxed ambience is helped along by the chilled-out tunes played throughout the afternoon.
This is not just a place to be seen at night, it’s a must-visit destination on brunch day.
Dhs225 (soft drinks), Dhs325 (house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. The Venetian Village, Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Al Maqta (02 404 1951).
The bottom line
Top class tastes at a laid-back brunch.