Gastro brunch in a pub - The Sportsman's Arms, Abu Dhabi

One sure way you can distinguish yourself from other brunches is to offer something that very few others are doing, and when that offering is a natural continuation of your own concept, it makes sense. How many brunches have you been to, for example, that are set in a gastro pub? The truth is not everyone wants to dress up in heels and bathe in perfume but would still like to be out on a Friday afternoon, and ideally with their kids. The Sportsman's Arms at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi is one of the newish brunches that sets out to provide that Friday afternoon that is relaxed, removed from a hotel and big on family while the drinks keep flowing. 

 Here are my impressions from my recent visit.



Family Venue


There are many parents out there who would love to go out on a Friday and not be stressed that people in their Sunday best will complain if their two-year-old is a bit too active. That is where venues like this come in. Being a father myself, I quite like seeing so many families here. The kids menu also reflects a family friendliness. A choice of mains for kids include Homemade Cod fingers, Organic chicken fingers and a Garden Salad - just 3 of 6 options. Finally, and this I care about a great deal, it is a smoke-free environment. Well done for taking a  stand in this matter. I would like to see more pubs following suit. 

Having said that, the pub is big, so even if you prefer to be away from kids, you can find a nook in the Sportsman's Arms where you can still have adult time. 

Menu

With dishes inspired by American and Irish pubs, the menu reflects a nice balance of the two. The concept is a sharing one, with starters and dessert shared, while main courses offer 7 choices. My guest and I start with a platter presented in a  very contemporary fashion, with items on a  wooden board. 




The Starter platter is packed with highlights for me. The Pastrami Cured Salmon has intense flavour and texture, quite different to the usual salmon one has at a brunch. The Caramelised Onion & Goat's cheese tartlets have me craving for me. Light crispy pastry with sweet and salty elements work so well. Both dishes go superbly well with my drink, the 2014 Luc BelAire Sparkling Rosé. While the normal drinks package includes a generous three wines including a rosé, you can order something bubbly for an extra charge. But worth it. 




I am pretty sure you will also enjoy the Pulled beef croquettes - make sure to have it with the deliciously sweet-sourness of the piccalilli and also fruit chutney. 

I then order my main. The Risotto challenges the perception that people have of pub food. Yes, while my guest has the Traditional Roast, typical pub grub, the Spring Pea Risotto suits me just fine. There is more to pub food than just burgers and mash. This is where the menu works for me. I am not a beer and burgers person so much, but there is still something on the menu for me. 




My guest's Traditional roast is huge, with  three types of meat and Yorkshire pudding - purely for the ravenous. However, I believe we eat with our eyes, so I would like to see a more aesthetic element to the presentation of the dish. 




Finally, dessert is served on a  sharing platter. The first thing that strikes me is the portions. There is the potential for very little wastage. Again, I approve. My English favourites are there, especially the Sticky toffee pudding! I am also thrilled with the Apple pie. The only thing missing for me is a vanilla ice cream to balance out the Brownie and Sticky Toffee Pudding. in contrast, the raspberry sorbet misses the mark, but this can be easily fixed. 




Verdict

This is a brunch I would pay for. At 275AED for the drinks package, it offers great value. More importantly, it is off the beaten track as far as brunches go, and on the day I went, I had a really good time. No need to get up to go to a buffet and I was able to try dishes I do not normally have at a  brunch. My only regret is that my daughter was not with me - she would have loved the vibe. 

The Essentials

The Sportsman's Arms,
Zayed Sports City,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 447 1066
e: reservations @sportsmanszsc.com

Brunch Menu

Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I was invited to the brunch courtesy of the restaurant.

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