A beautifully balanced Friday Brunch at Eastern Mangroves by Anantara, Abu Dhabi

Brunches are becoming more and more loud it seems as the demographic of the brunch attendee changes. Also, drinks are becoming a key part of the big brunch experience with the result that dishes are declining in quality of ingredients. It is a sweeping statement, but there are exceptions of course. The brunch at Eastern Mangroves by Anantara is one that I had been looking forward to because it is such a niche brunch. After more than 18 months since my last visit, I really wanted to see to what degree it has embraced the changing brunch ethic or eschewed it. 



Seafood in abundance 

Basically, a fine seafood selection. My guest and I lost ourselves in a beautifully prepared platter of Fine de Claire oysters, available on request by anyone the way.  With the exception of a couple, our 1 1/2 dozen oysters were really well shucked. Impressed. The oysters are not the biggest, but my guest remarked how she could taste the sea in them. Absolutely. Next, we had some Maine lobster tail - I can maybe count on one hand the times I have had this in Abu Dhabi. Grilled and served with a wedge of lemon and enjoyed with a glass of Laurent Perrier NV Champagne - blissful. On this note, the sparkling package features Valdo Prosecco, a not bad Prosecco at all. Finally, again a treat for fish lovers in that it is rarely served in Abu Dhabi, Pomfret fish, lightly seasoned and again topped with lemon. A very strong seafood offering, especially when you consider that I left other offerings untouched. 








Playing to its strengths


As memorable as the seafood was, it is the Asian element that one celebrates here. Beijing duck, presented in typical Chinese fashion with ducks hanging from wire is a success not because of the way the duck is cooked. It is the accompanying sauce that is as authentic in flavour as I have had anywhere in China. We also have a sushi and sashimi platter, again available on request to guests, nicely presented on a boat. Although I embrace the less is more idea, I do feel the sashimi is a bit thin with only tuna and salmon. I was hoping for some seabream, incidentally one of the grilled dishes on offer. 




However, all is forgiven when I visit the Asian station and meet Chef Saranya who brings a theatrical element as well as the hotel's signature restaurant, Pachaylen, to the brunch. She is part of a team of chefs that remained visible throughout brunch. She prepares a Thai snack known as Miang kham or 'one bite wrap' as it is translated. Chili, onion, dried shrimp, ginger, peanuts, lemon and coconut are all wrapped in betel leaf. But it is the process of watching this unfold in front of my eyes that makes it so memorable. And of course, unique. 


Make sure you have this well thought out Foie Gras with avocado. 

Dessert

A super selection and a lot of creativity has gone into making this one of the better dessert stations in the city. I found the Nougat and Turkish delight station a very interesting one and one that is hard to forget because I have not seen it elsewhere. Even though the Turkish delight missed the texture  and essential flavour I come to associate with the strawberry one, the nougat was spot on. There was also very nice choice of candies, fruit and probably the second best cheesecake I have had at a brunch in Abu Dhabi. Highly recommended. 

Chef Aisha taking care of Turkish delight and nougat needs.



Verdict


One of my best brunch experiences all year. I think brunches with a terrace will always have an edge, but they still need to deliver. The terrace gave me an oasis of peace and quiet, while, if I wanted to, I could go inside and feel the music, the cling and clatter of cutlery and china. Even inside though, it was busy but not noisy. Secondly, the brunch has remained true to its philosophy from last time I tried the brunch - fewer dishes but better ingredients. Furthermore, brunch seems to have become very guest centred with a number of things done on request with a' If we can do it, we will' approach. This is also reflected in the fact that although they offer one Italian red and white as part of the house beverages, there is also an Argentinian option if the guest needs something else. 

FInally, the brunch here does not have a live band. Frankly, I would rather have a good music playlist and see that money go into better ingredients, something they are clearly doing here. 

Overall, this is the kind of brunch that gives you the best of the smallish brunch and the feel of the big brunch where personalised experience matches the visual aspect. I think you will be wonderfully surprised by the depth and quality of this brunch housed in an exquisite all-day dining venue. Pencil this one in on your list. 

The Essentials.

Ingredients Friday Brunch,
Eastern Mangroves Hotel by Anantara,
Abu Dhabi
http://abu-dhabi.anantara.com/
+971 2 656 1000

Packages

Soft Drinks 220 AED++
Wine incl 310 AED ++

Valdo Prosecco 390 AED++
Champagne by Laurent Perrier 480 AED++ African @ Eastern

Brandon Stoltenkamp

Disclaimer: I visited the brunch at Ingredients at Eastern Mangroves by Anantara courtesy of the hotel.

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