Friday brunch at Giornotte

Review: A staggering amount of high-quality food, drinks and entertainment

DETAILS: Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (house beverages), Dhs495 (bubbly). Fri 1pm-4pm. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta (02 818 8282).

Forget what you think you know about brunch. The Ritz-Carlton’s version is on another planet to most. It won our Best Brunch award in 2016 for good reason.

Nominally billed as being in the hotel’s Giornotte restaurant, this sprawling culinary extravaganza takes over a whole wing of the hotel’s ground floor. In fact, from the moment you descend the marble staircase from the lobby level the action begins.

You’ll get a welcome drink before you’ve even given your name at the entrance desk and as you’re taken to your table you’ll be talked through the dozens of live stations and buffet selections. And there’s
a lot to take in.

You do most of the work here yourself, but there’s so much to explore it hardly seems a chore. You can ask the staff for drinks from the bar, but with at least seven mixed drinks stations to discover (covering everything from Polynesian to Mexican concoctions) you might never get the chance.

If there are seven drinks stations, there must be 20 for food. And then there is Giornotte itself, a huge space filled with cuisines from across the world.

We intend to start with some lighter, salad options but are drawn to the dim sum, and gorge on duck gyoza, fluffy steamed buns filled with barbecue chicken and delicious prawn sui mai. The plate turns out to be one of the highlights of the afternoon. Keeping with the Asian theme, the sashimi is also top-notch, however for such a plentiful spread, the maki rolls seem to lack a little variety. It hardly matters when there are so many other things to get through, and a very citrussy seafood ceviche more than makes up for it.

We veer over to Mexico for a bit of build-your-own-nachos action. While we enjoy the sloppy too-big portion we whip up, it hardly seems the best use of our time (or stomach space) when there’s someone cooking fresh scallops across the way (they need a touch more seasoning when we do get them) and a gargantuan leg of wagyu beef, just waiting to be carved and served alongside top Yorkies.

An Indonesian station is an interesting new addition, though won’t be for everyone, and the savoury crêpes (with a good choice of fillings) are another highlight. There’s a very impressive selection of oysters and seafood, too.

Excellent Latin dancers perform throughout the afternoon accompanied by a DJ and the vibe is brilliant, with people getting into the spirit.

It’s a tough act to beat.

The bottom line

The complete brunch package.

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