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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Review: garden party meets farmers' market at Brunch at the Palace 

The live Latin band keep the spirits and holiday vibes up throughout the afternoon

Brunch at the Palace 
Brunch at the Palace 

Outdoor brunch season is back, marked by the triumphant return of Emirates Palace’s al fresco foodie fiesta at La Brisas. But this time it brings a new twist.

The venue may be palatial, but you can still pop on your floatiest casual dress or trousers and boho sandals or kicks – Brunch at the Palace a laid-back lazy affair with garden-party vibes. That’s not to say this new incarnation has lost its regal edge. It’s undeniably high-end – oysters and lobster still take pride of place at the fresh seafood bar – but the setting is casual and easy-going.

The all-new Brunch at the Palace is set up like a farmers’ market. You walk through stalls of impeccably presented varieties of fresh organic produce, but rather than filling your hessian bag to take it all home, you get to fill your face with it right there, with friends, facing a big, swirly swimming pool, with hammocks in it. If you’re a fan of farmers’ markets, you’ll be in your element here.

The food is set out on rustic wooden boxes, some strewn with straw to give it that fresh-from-the-farm feel, others draped with gingham cloth, adding an old-school picnic vibe. There’s plenty to please your palate, too, with lots of live cooking and preparation stations – chefs whip up pasta with sauces of your choice and prepare fresh mozzarella and burrata salads with slices of heirloom tomatoes if that tickles your fancy.

There’s a carvery, with chefs serving up a cracking British roast featuring a delightfully tender prime rib, honey-glazed roasted parsnips and Yorkshire puddings. But get there early for the top-notch quality – Yorkies and veggies get a little limp as the afternoon wears on.

Of the other pre-prepared plates, there’s Spanish tapas, a fluffy lobster frittata, with punchy rocket and patatas bravas – a great opener to proceedings – as well as paella, an indulgent cheese and truffle quiche, and tender, gummy beef cheeks with piquillo peppers.

Those looking for lighter options have plenty to choose from, too, with a range of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean salads. But if you’re not watching your waistline, the spiced lamb ouzi is well worth digging into.

Of course, brunch wouldn’t be complete without dessert. The sweet-toothed are well catered for with baklava, ridiculously rich, gooey and chocolatey cakes, muffins, doughnuts, tarts and more, and there’s a “Bomboniere” serving old-school classics such as squares of fudge and sugar-coated cola bottles, which will appeal to both your kids and your inner child.

Staff have the knack of showing up just as you’re ready for a top-up, and the live Latin band keep the spirits and holiday vibes up throughout the afternoon, perhaps most importantly, without drowning out conversation.

It’s a garden party that by the time 4pm rolls around has put you in a great mood for the weekend. It’s an elegant yet relaxed epicurean Friday feast.

Brunch at the Palace is on Fridays from 12.30pm to 4pm, and costs from Dh370 for adults and Dh185 for kids between 6 and 12 years. Call 02 690 7999.

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