A journal, inspired by my love for my daughter, that embraces quality food, service and experiences which make life worth living. In the words of Tennyson's Ulysses, " I cannot rest from travel. I will drink life to the lees." Seeking that incredible dining or hotel experience and writing about it. Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Thursday evening Brunch true to the spirit of Market Kitchen - Le Royal Meridien Hotel, Abu Dhabi
I have had a love affair with Market Kitchen the moment I tried it when it opened a few years ago. It was also its brunch that broke the trend in Abu Dhabi by eschewing the buffet concept and adopting a table service. For the last year now, they have extended that brunch idea to what they call their Evening Brunch on a Thursday.
The brunch comprises three courses, based on sharing. The Appetisers include the classic Tuna sashimi which is to market Kitchen what bubbles are to champagne. If you have not tried it, make sure you do. They are remarkably consistent with this dish. Speaking of classic dishes, they have included their Truffle pizza too, again a dish that I find comforting because it is so much a part of the restaurant. There is also the Steak tartare that makes me feel it is an impressive selection of starters - expect subtlety with their interpretation. There is heat, but nothing overwhelming.
Finally, another returning dish is their soup, but they tend to mix up the ingredients, so you never know what you will get. They serve their Cream of tomato soup on the night, and as the name suggests, it is deliciously creamy. Tastefully served in an espresso cup, it is a fun way to enjoy this starter. My favourite dish of the first course though, and mainly because I know the other dishes so well, is the Green bean salad, served with an ingredient I don't get often in Abu Dhabi, furikake, giving the beans added crunch over and above the texture from the par cooked beans. I have another serving of this too!
There have been a lot of changes at the hotel in recent months, including the departure of the restaurant's enigmatic French manager, Juliet Vidal , but I am pleased to see their new manager is a familiar face, having recently moved from the fabulous Bu! Felipe Bancelin will, I believe, continue the fine work done by Juliet and bring his own touch to a restaurant that has a steady flow of regulars.
In terms of drinks, you can expect a red and white from France and a Rosé from Spain. However, for a Thursday evening, you must try all their cocktails. Both of them have a bit of kick, so tell your server before how spicy you want it - The Passion Chili Soda and my favourite, the Fresh Ginger Ale. If you prefer bubbly, you can simply order this a la carte at a fairly good rate!
By the time the main courses are served, I am already quite full. This is one of the reasons I am already enjoying the evening. While I am not a fan of evening 'brunches' as a concept, they are there, so it is about finding good ones. The dishes here are really substantial, and not the canapé type that results in me having to eat like 10 to start feeling full. These are nice portions.
There are four main courses - Roasted Meager with Malaysian chili sauce is a hot dish but a good one. It is also nice to see some unusual fish on the menu here in Abu Dhabi. Then oddly, there are two pasta dishes - Fusilli pasta with tomato sauce and Truffle macaroni and Cheese. Now, I am not a fan of fusilli because it reminds me of what a 7 year old would eat at an Italian restaurant. It is a dish that does not excite and I am so pleased that Head Chef Grant Ballinger receives my feedback with such good spirits. Chef has been with Market Kitchen for a while now and I am glad that he is heading the kitchen - a good soul.
Surprisingly, my favourite dish turns out to be a humble ingredient - chicken. The Roasted corn fed chicken is moist and has none of the dryness that sends me away from this dish on menus. Also, a bit of a crispness on the skin does not hurt either!
Finally, dessert consists of the Walnut cake, Vanilla Ice Cream sundae and Maple Ice cream. There is enough sweet here to keep me interested and something more sophisticated in the Walnut cake.
Market Kitchen is very consistent with its product and whether it is doing a special menu during ramadan or a Friday brunch, you feel the essence of the brand. Their so called Evening Brunch on Thursdays continues the tradition of sticking to a concept of sharing quality dishes, with an emphasis on the tried and tested that are so well loved.
Market Kitchen Le Royal Meridien, Khalifa Street, Abu Dhabi 02 674 2552