DETAILS: Dhs190++++ (soft drinks); Dhs290++++ (house beverages); Dhs390++++ (bubbly). Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta (02 404 1941).
Brunch on a Saturday can be a bit daunting with the shadow of a working Sunday hanging over everyone. You can’t throw yourself into it with the same reckless abandon as you might with a Friday feast and therefore, is it ever really worth it? We’re here to tell you that at Todd English’s Olives, the answer is a big fat “yes”.
Billed as a Lazy Lunch, this is a set-menu occasion, where everything is brought to your table. As such it has the feel of a more traditional end-of-the-weekend meal, and not as much of a time to overindulge yourself massively.
There’s seating inside and out, and while the alfresco area, away from the restaurant itself and right on the side of the canal, is lovely, we opt for the dining room, which is surprisingly cosy, despite us being the only brunchers that choose to sit indoors.
The format is simple, and explained to us well by the charming staff. The menu typically focuses on Italian-influenced Mediterranean dishes, and the brunch is no different. Starters include a tomato bisque, steak salad, carpaccio and prawn flatbread; there’s a choice of main courses and there’s a platter of desserts. The soft drinks package includes excellent mocktails as well as ice teas, juices and fizzy options; while the house beverage option includes grape, mixed drinks and hops.
A top selection of bread, olives and olive tapanades arrive first (well, olives are in the restaurant’s name), closely followed by a small cast-iron pot of bisque each. There are Asian touches to the rich sauce, and it’s a good start.
The other starters are brought out to share, and from them, the prawn flatbread impresses most. Big prawns sit on top of a wonderfully tomatoey and cheesey pizza base. If there’s one dish we’ll be back to try, it’s this. The carpaccio is great, though we could do without the steak salad, which lacks a little flavour and excitement.
For mains we go for pan-seared lemon sole and a roasted organic chicken breast. The latter looks more impressive, but the fish, with cassoulet-style beans, sprouts and tomatoes is our favourite. The sour cream potato cake with the chicken deserves a special mention, though.
Dessert comes in the form of five small sweet treats, just dainty enough to be manageable.
We’re impressed by Olives again, and this is a super way to round off a weekend.
The bottom line
Top-class service, food and value.