The famous Bubbalicious brunch rises again - The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa.

The last time I attended the Bubbalicious brunch, I was unimpressed to the point that I placed it behind the other two brunch offerings the Westin had at that time, all of 6 months ago. The brunch seemed dated, with very little to excite me, or my 9-year-old in fact. However, on my most recent visit at the end of March, I was almost overwhelmed by the changes and positive energy I felt at the brunch. But to what extent can this brunch count itself among the best in the city again?

1. The power of first impressions

While the walk down the steps from the lobby gives me a first view of the brunch as drinks are offered on arrival, it is really the first station I see that makes  a tremendous impact. A live meat station featuring a butchery-style lay-out assaults the senses and leaves me gasping at its abundance and variety. Overseen by Executive sous Chef Sinju, who has already breathed so much life into dining at The Westin since his arrival from Emirates Palace, the variety is worth noting: Angus ribeye, 1824 striploin, Wagyu ribs, Argentinian organic lamb and chorizo...the list could go on. This is the best way a brunch that caters for up to 300 guests can create a personalised experience - making a  principle station like this a genuine live station. 










2. Other new additions

An equally huge new addition to the brunch is the pork station. Thanks to a new Food & Beverage Director who is managing to fill some big shoes left by the previous director, the Westin joins a handful of other brunches serving this sinful delight. There was a steady flow of guests to The Retreat, the hotel pub that was previously dead space, to try these cold cuts. While I dream of a suckling pig on the lawns one day, this is a positive step!






However, the pork station is by no means the most exciting new addition. That honour is reserved for a tandoor that has been built adjacent to the lawns. Chef de Cuisine Anujith was beside himself when he spoke glowingly about what this meant to him. Part of  a brunch's success lies in its ability to transform itself and offer something unique. This certainly checks both columns. We live in a city where one of the most popular cuisines is Indian, so it is only appropriate that it should be given a prominent place at a brunch. I must stay that tandoori chicken with freshly made tandoori naan is not something you would find at many brunches. In fact, I daresay it is the only 5-star brunch I have attended in the city where this is offered.






3. Keeping old favourites

Seafood has always been a strength here at Bubbalicious, and I am glad to say that it still is. The Salad section remains a firm favourite with a deft balance struck between flavours and presentation. As far as the Cheese station goes, I wonder if it would be better served moving it to a  space adjacent to the pork station. This way, they can really add a few more cheeses and make a good station  a very good one. 







4. Quality returns?

Gimmicks and innovations are one thing, but taste is very important. I had the pleasure of trying a number of dishes to suggest that Bubbalicious has restored the balance between its alcohol and food offerings. As a brunch I do not want it to be perceived as a place where the food is just ok but the drinks are great. While I certainly felt that on my last visit, it was not the case this time. 

The 72-hour braised ribs are a testimony to the quality of the dishes. The meat simply fell off the bone. Absolutely tender, as evidenced by the bone in the pics. If beef of this quality is served at a brunch that is not a speciality steak brunch, then my faith is restored in the notion of beef that is not cooked live. 




5. Room for improvement? 

Oh of course. I think more can be done in the way that foie gras and scallops are presented. I would like to see the chefs charged with plating to be bolder and more confident. Remember, we eat with our eyes! And this cannot be done with those tiny plates. Then, there should also be greater consistency with the shucking of oysters. It is very unpleasant to have sediment in one's oysters. 

6. Best family brunch?

The Westin's lawns are put to great use, ensuring kids have ample room to run wild, free from concrete and skyscrapers. Kids are not shut in a room while being entertained by DVDs and a clown. Kidz Factory, reprising its role from the Saturday picnic, camel rides and open space ensure that children are genuinely entertained. There are some good family brunches in the city, but I think Bubbalicious has them beat. It uses its strength of its natural setting to good effect, something that few brunches can compete with. 








7. Best After-party?

It is no longer enough to provide guests with a fantastic brunch experience from 1-4pm and then send them home. It is also not enough to offer guests a discount on drinks and then send them to your bar. What about the kids? This is why the after party at the Westin is something special. Moms and dads. Moms and kids. Dads and kids. All on the grass having fun. Yes, this changes in Summer when the heat comes, but for 7 months a year, this is by far the best place to have your post-brunch party!







Verdict

It is simple. Where Bubbalicious was dwarfed last year by other offerings in the city, it is now a brunch to be reckoned with, harking back to its glory days when it first hit the scene. With a powerful trio in their new F&B director, Executive sous chef and Chef de cuisine and continuity with a restaurant manager who understands the clientele, the 'backroom staff' is impressive. Then, and this is significant, there is a winning concept that taps into the core values of Bubbalicious while also introducing some new ideas. Bubbalicious is your classic Abu Dhabi big brunch that is ready to take on the other big brunches!


The low down

Bubbalicious Brunch,

Fairways,
The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa
+971 2 616 9999


Soft drinks package 290Dhs++

Sparkling wine package 355Dhs++
Champagne package 515Dhs ++


                                                               
Brandon Stoltenkamp

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