The Epicurean Friday Brunch at Olea - St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi

There are those brunches that, notwithstanding how big they are in terms of guests, still manage to exude a sense of class. There are those brunches where families and couples are equally at home. There are brunches that despite having a supreme drinks selection cannot be labeled as a drinking brunch. There are those brunches that others copy and imitate. The so-called Epicurean brunch at Olea at St Regis on Saadiyat Island is one of those brunches and trust me, it is one of a handful that satisfies these criteria. As part of my 2017 Best Brunches round up, I recently visited it. 

Service taken up a notch

Firstly, I love the new uniforms. I think waistcoats and bow ties have an elegance about them, and this is befitting of a brunch like this. I am aware that I often get a very experienced waiter when I do these round ups, so I generally try to avoid commenting on service, but when I encounter three waiters who are so at ease with guests and follow service procedures to the letter of the law, I am impressed. You know you're in for a good afternoon, when unsolicited, a finger bowl is presented as you finish your seafood dish. Also, where staff do a disappearing act around 4 as they prepare for the next shift or service, the service continued here. I hate when staff start packing up around 3.30, reminding me that I have to leave soon. I think you can still go about your clearing and packing up without making the guest feel he or she has to leave. This is done so well here. kudos to staff. Make sure you seek out Joseph and Jim, two waiters in particular, who are blessed with a sense of discretion and have the confidence to use that discretion. Furthermore, chefs are out in force. It is always reassuring seeing the men in white hats in numbers on the floor. 


On my visit, brunch was slightly scaled down for logistical reasons - I was assured it just for that day. Nonetheless, I missed the seating in 55&5th and the glorious cheese room, foie gras service and wider oyster selection. However, there was still so much on offer to warrant my attention. The tandoor outside is a big attraction and one of the marquis new additions to the brunch this season. I am also excited about the seafood pasta station - expect a generous selection of seafood in this dish including lobster! Recommended. 

A lovely innovation that one does not see at brunches catering for 250+ guests, is the pass arounds. This usually works well in smaller brunches because of the more manageable guest number, but I am glad to see it done here too. It is that extra wow factor that excites. The eggs benedict? Delicious. 

Of course, I also recommend the 48 hour braised wagyu - always a dish you must have at a brunch whose sister restaurant is one of the best steakhouses in Abu Dhabi. Then, expect a big improvement in the kids' station with 5 dishes on offer. There are no fast food style chicken nuggets here. I would say the kids' dishes are as good if not better than I have seen at any brunch. Finally, dessert. This is a brunch that created wonderful childhood theme for its dessert station by drawing on literature. This year they went with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and created a space that like the book, enthralls both young and old. 

Still the best drinks around?

I recently tried a brunch where there was a choice of around 15 cocktails. That is impressive. The mid range package is the bread and butter package of brunches as most people opt for this and is more profitable than the champagne package. 

So, it is understandable that cocktails are worked on so hard. However, it is not enough to offer all these cocktails while serving below par wine. For a few years now, since its relaunch three years ago, the Olea brunch ahs boasted a great drinks selection. It has not changed it significantly. 

You will still find Louis Roederer NV, one of the 4 best bubblies you will find at a brunch in Abu Dhabi. There is a clear distinction between the mid range and top packages here that is more than just about champagne. Two Torres labels, the Altos Iberico and Vina Esmerelda are far superior to the standard wines for the mid range package. This distinction extends to the spirits as well, with this brunch offering both single malt whisky and cognac to its champagne drinkers. Is this still the best drinks package in the city? It now shares that distinction with one other brunch, not because it has deteriorated but because the other brunch has just upped its drinks game.  

The Verdict

With the turquoise coloured water a stone's throw away, it is hard to fault a brunch. But, Olea does not simply trade on this. It offers all the trappings of a classic big brunch - live stations, engaging entertainment and drinks stations of quality matched by fine champagne. But that is not all. Attentive service where drinks remain poured, chefs actively involved in the brunch and an overall brunch atmosphere that is both vibrant and cultured, makes this brunch one of the best in the city and when the awards roll out, it will be among the top 3. 

St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
Abu Dhabi
971 2 498 8888
St Regis Saadiyat Brunch

Silk Package 390Dhs
Juices and Mocktails
Pearl Package 520 Dhs
House wines
A range of cocktails
Diamond Package  740 Dhs
Louis Roederer Champagne
Premium Wine, Spirits and Beers

All taxes included

Disclaimer: Brandon Stoltenkamp is a  hotel and restaurant writer based in Abu Dhabi. He was at the restaurant by invitation.