The Friday Table Brunch at Market Kitchen - Le Royal Meriden, Abu Dhabi

Market Kitchen at Le Royal Meridien Hotel in Abu Dhabi. I remember trying it shortly after it launched its brunch. What an impression it made - it was only the second table brunch in a city overwhelmed by buffets. However, I felt it became a victim of its own success as it became too complacent and on my visit last year, I felt it had lost its mojo. With its recent relaunch, I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to experience it. 



Engagement and interaction

This was a much-needed injection into the relaunched brunch, oddly named The De 'Vine' brunch - it has not been de-vined at all. The wine is flows! Be that as it may, what a pleasure it was to see staff actually move a little beyond expectations and do something that shows they can be relaxed and fun. For example, the Tuna sashimi and Crispy sushi rice is prepared table side, making for natural engagement between the guest and staff. Secondly, there is a cocktail shaker demo every 45 minutes or so as staff shake up some cocktails and serve them to guests. Clever!


A foodie's brunch

This has always been a  strength of market Kitchen and I am thrilled to say the food is as good as ever. based on a sharing concept over 4 courses, the first course was the Seafood. No Market Kitchen experience can be complete without Tuna sashimi on crispy rice - as good as the first time, I tell you. The table side presentation and serving  heightens the experience and affords this dish the respect it deserves.  But the highlight for me of 4 dishes was undoubtedly the Salmon tartar.  The latter, with its delicate flavours, broken up by the sweetness of apple, was beautiful. The surprising texture brought about by hazelnut was an absolute delight. This is a  dish that allows your taste buds to return to themselves, fresh, pure, unfettered.





The second course offers a soup that will make your knees weak. The Butternut squash soup has everything you want in a  soup - hearty, warm, smooth and packed with flavour. Then, of course, there is another dish that is synonymous with Market Kitchen, much like the Tuna sashimi and crispy sushi rice - the Black truffle pizza. Forget truffle oil. This is the real thing. Delish!


As for main courses, there are two. This is quite sensible. In the past, there were just too many dishes. I think two is more sustainable and indeed sensible. Salted Baked Sea bream is also served table side, again making for an opportunity to engage with staff in a natural manner. As for taste, expect delicate flavours to capture your sense of taste. Very good. Finally, there is the Masterstock chicken - I loved the caramelised broth!




Dessert, thanks to manageable portions, is something worthy, with the Toffee crisp salt caramel my winner, ahead of the Market cheesecake. Some interesting flavours are there on that cheesecake, but I think a classic rendering would actually work better. Sometimes less is more. 


Drinks

Cocktails have generally been good at this brunch. In fact, there is a very good drinks section, including a  return to the classy Taittinger NV Brut Champagne. Incidentally, at 399AED++, this is one of the two cheapest brunches in the city offering champagne. As far as wines go, rather than the also-ran entry level South American wines which feature at 7/10 brunches, two French wines are offered as well as Spanish RosĂ©. 


Music

Market Kitchen is a sophisticated brunch, which makes the music choice quite a challenging one. However, Former X-Factor contestant, Jaymie Deboucherville keeps the music true to the Market Kitchen Brunch concept. Thankfully there is no jazz, and his acoustic take on contemporary pop/rock really lends class to the afternoon. Furthermore, I like his connection with his guests as he encourages them to make requests. On my next visit, though, I look forward to hearing him when he takes out the drum kit and sexes up things!


Overall, Market Kitchen has shown some innovation and creativity - my two buzz words at brunches - that will see it continue to have its loyal followers as well as new converts. Market Kitchen is lead by a very young and passionate manager in Juliette Vidal who shows the value of a leader who loves food, wine and understands her restaurant's market well. 

To sum up, this brunch that caters for people who really care about what they eat, is followed by very good dish after very good dish. There are not that many brunches that can claim that. 

The lowdown

Market Kitchen
Le Royal Meridien, Khalifa Street,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 674 2552
http://www.marketkitchenabudhabi.com/


Soft Package 199 Dhs++
Cocktails and Wine 299 Dhs++
Champagne package 399 Dhs++


                                 Disclaimer: I was invited to try the Market Kitchen brunch by the hotel and share my impressions. All views are my own. 

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