“The proximity of a desirable thing tempts one to overindulgence. On that path lies danger.” Frank Herbert
Friday’s are a day of worship here. For the locals it’s a day of reflection and prayers at the mosque and for the western expats it’s a local tradition to worship at the altar of over indulgence, Friday Brunch.
You know you are in for a real treat when you are handed a ‘Brunch Map’ and a Mimosa (that’s Bucks Fizz to you and me) when you enter the restaurant. Now the only other brunch I’ve been to with a map is my favourite in Dubai at Al Qasr, so anticipation was high as we were seated and a cheeky classic mojito arrived as if from nowhere and it continued in that vain for the next few hours!
Fresh and plentiful options
The imposing and impressive Venetian-themed Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal located opposite the Grand Mosque introduced its sumptuous Friday brunch to the gormandising (what a fantastic word) capital dwellers last Autumn and its been a roaring success ever since and a welcome rival on the brunching scene here in Abu Dhabi.
Colourful pasta combinations
Brunch takes place in Giornotte (a blend of the Italian words for day ‘Giorno’ and night ‘notte’), a spacious restaurant which houses twenty-seven live buffet stations offering an elaborate display of International cuisine and flavours from the hotels different restaurants, including all things seafood, a Wagyu beef leg carving station (very popular with diners), Arabic, Asian, Italian, Mexican, South American, Indian, French, Spanish dishes and so much more. Quite simply, it’s a foodies’ paradise.
There were hot dishes, cold dishes, a station just for eggs (a whole new take on scrambled eggs), breakfast (bowl of cereal anyone), a burritos bar, a bruschetta station as well as dedicated Cheese Room, Weekly Specials and Dolce, a dessert room that felt like you had died and gone straight to sweet heaven. The noodle pulling station in the centre attracted some attention as the chef created his made-to-order creations.
As I wandered through the vast space that is Giornotte, an elegant indoor and outdoor (too hot on our visit to sit outside, so we will just have to return when it’s cooler and sample all the dishes we didn’t quite get to try in one visit!) brunch venue, live piano music added a touch of style and refinement to the whole affair. The overall vibe was good and the brunch is very family friendly too with a dedicated Kids Corner.
The meat eaters at my table were in their element and returned to the table time after time with plates laden with duck, lamb chops, veal and of course the wagyu beef, which the other half described as the best thing he ate that day, tender and cooked to perfection. The teenager, a savoury girl at heart, was in her element with sushi, scallops, roast dinner and a burrito made to order from hand-picked ingredients which the eldest also indulged in through his mojito and meat induced fog. There was an abundance of all things seafood devoured at our table too from the extensive and impressive selection on display. I, as the usual token veggie, had salads, soup, a lovely custom-made bruschetta sourced and delivered to me by second son and a veggie roast with a delicious selection of vegetables and Yorkshire puddings.
The dessert room was akin to a scene from Willy Wonka in the movie ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and I was a literally like a big kid in a sweet shop. There should be a warning outside the room for those like me, who have a sweet tooth, ‘Beware: Death By Sugar’. In a confused state of where to start and not miss out on anything, I conducted a full reconnaissance of the room whilst stuffing my face with multi coloured M & M’s and jelly sweets.
There was every conceivable type of dessert you could ever think of from macaroons to donuts, waffles, popcorn, brownies, cheesecake, mousses, fruit, a pink chocolate fountain, a whole host of ice-cream flavours and sorbets.
Jar after jar of all types of chocolate combinations you can imagine were there for the taking with dark, milk, white, honeycomb, fudge and so much more. I could literally feel my dress tightening every time I reached for another selection, but that didn’t stop me!
I had a little encounter in the dedicated Cheese Room with a rotund and jolly Scottish fella who asked me where in Australia I was from, I responded in my best British accent ‘I’m from London actually!‘ to which he starting speaking about the then upcoming Referendum and I wished I had replied Sydney! The Cheese Room, like its neighbour the dessert room had so much choice, I was baffled by decisions and slightly overcome by the pungent smell. Even though I was actually so full, I selected some rather gooey French soft cheeses which were absolutely delightful.
I defy any connoisseur not to be impressed with the selection, quality and all round freshness of the food on offer at the Giornotte brunch. Along with the magnificent food and the unprecedented level of choice the serving staff went above and beyond and were attentive throughout. Drinks were continuously replenished, our table was tidied and clean cutlery appeared whenever I went off to browse and all the chefs I interacted with were knowledgeable and friendly, all adding to an overall great experience. The Ritz-Carlton definitely have attention to detail nailed.
The concept of Friday Brunch is quite absurd if you think about it too much (definitely don’t do thinking and especially not too much), when do you normally sit for 3-4 hours and eat continuously, no make that stuff yourself to uncomfortable levels with every type of top quality cuisine known to man and consume more alcohol than you would probably drink in a fortnight in one sitting (there’s definitely no counting of units on a Friday)? On the other hand it’s a veritable bargain in a country where alcohol is charged at a premium for obvious reasons and food at 5* star hotels isn’t cheap, so I conclude the economic benefits far out way the gluttony! There goes the sermon that is Friday Brunch! Amen.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
Location: The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Canal
Giornotte Friday Brunch: 12.30 pm. to 4.00 pm
Telephone: 02 818 8282
All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.