DETAILS: Dhs230 (soft drinks), Dhs330 (house beverages, pool and beach pass). The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 498 8443).
We love Sontaya’s setting and we love Asian food. We’re also partial to a brunch. So Saturday brunch at pan-Asian restaurant Sontaya should be right up our street. And mostly, it is.
We have talked about it a lot on these pages, but for sheer wow-factor it is hard to beat The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort. Once you get to the incredible beachfront setting of Sontaya, which seems to float over pools of cool, blue water, you would be forgiven for thinking you’ve been transported to another country. Day-to-day life in Abu Dhabi seems very far away.
The Asian Fusion brunch includes dishes from across the South East of the continent.
Its a relaxed afternoon, with staff making everyone feel at home, a laidback feel to the service and a set menu
that can come as quickly or as slowly as you want it to.
We do find the restaurant being used as thoroughfare for the hotel’s guests using the pool a little off-putting though – there’s a relaxed atmosphere and then there’s wanting to see people in their swimming trunks walking past while you’re eating lunch.
We’re indoors, which is lovely, if not quite as lovely as the outside seating, but alas, it’s too hot on our visit.
Prices are reasonable, and the soft drinks package includes a lovely ice tea. If you’re going for house beverages you’ll have a choice of Asian hops as well as grape.
There are four courses. The meal starts with salads to share, then there’s a platter of hot starters with a bowl of soup, followed by main courses and then finished with a selection of desserts.
Don’t be fooled by the size of the salads. They’re small, but you have a quite a lot to get through later. You can reorder though, which we do. Best of the bunch are the fresh pomelo option and the banana blossom salad, which is prepared at the table. As with all great Asian food there’s a whole load of flavour going on, and a fair bit of heat.
Highlights of the platter are the prawn and chicken dim sum and chicken wings in a sticky sweet sauce.
Vegetable fritters and duck spring rolls are dry in comparison.
Mains are hit and miss. The Thai green curry’s sauce is superb, but we’re not keen on the cubes of beef. Fried rice is a little bland, and pan-seared dory is cloying. Crispy wok-fried chicken is faultless, though, and all the desserts are top.
We usually love Sontaya’s food, but the brunch doesn’t show it off at its best. Still, it does have a lovely setting.
The bottom line
A relaxed day with decent food.