Review: Picnic Brunch at Iris Abu Dhabi

Food should be fun.” Thomas Keller

Move over Friday Brunch there’s a new kid in town, Saturday Picnic Barbeque Brunch at Iris Abu Dhabi located at Yas Marina on Yas Island. All week long Iris is a party central, packed to the rafters with the cool crowd out to all hours, on Saturday afternoons it transforms into a family-friendly space for a chilled and relaxed brunch. Don’t worry the extensive cocktail list is still available and the DJ is at the decks, not quite as loud as normal just smooth background music instead.

IMG_2216_2I was invited to try this new addition to the capital’s brunch scene, so I took the other half and the teenager along last weekend as my guests. Apart from the inclement weather, I know it’s hard to believe but it was actually cold and very windy, even the servers were in woolly scarves and the DJ wore a puffa jacket and beanie, we really enjoyed the Saturday Brunch experience.

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Brunchers can grab a picnic basket and blanket on arrival and settle outside or sit inside at the various different seating areas. Live outdoor food stations offer a simple menu of barbecue favourites such as steaks, burgers, hot dogs, kebabs, chicken drumsticks and wings as well as shrimps and the popular regional sandwich, chicken shawarma. A build-your-own taco station offered fresh guacamole, salsa, cheese, salad and chilli, all the ingredients needed to make your favourite combination.

DSC09451But fear not fellow veggies there are plenty of non-meat options too and they were really good! The flatbread pizzas topped with pesto and aubergines were delicious as were the creamy burrata and tomato ones, there were also tuna and beef salad options too. The teenager tucked into the sushi while I had some bite-sized mini vegetable pizzas, these may have been for the children, but there was plenty to go around so I didn’t feel too bad, they were good too.

I was most impressed with the salads-in-a jar, a trendy and healthy option which offered various pre-made colourful salad combinations served in clip-topped glass storage jars along with smaller jars of different dressings. Just grab a jar of your choice from the large wooden barrel and dig in!

There was a signature mojito station with its own mixologist for the adults located next to another huge wooden barrel full of all kinds of fresh fruit, perfect for the younger diners to munch on. The dessert station offered waffles and crepes with NUTELLA, it would have been a crime for me not to have a Nutella crepe with fresh fruit and ice-cream for a calorific, messy treat. Trust me there were just as many adults as children in the line waiting for their favourite thick hazelnut chocolate indulgence.

Younger children are truly well catered for, both in the food stakes and the activities offered. A grass covered play area has face painting and arts and crafts at mini tables with Iris staff on-hand to supervise so parents can relax knowing their offspring are safe and entertained. Various games from giant jenga and playing cards to chess and draughts were available for families to play together, we enjoyed a few games of Uno together and the other half thrashed the teenager at draughts!

Iris is a spacious venue, stark concrete floors are offset by dark wood furniture and glass, lots of small potted plants, grass wall panels with an additional pop of vibrant lime green from plain and patterned textiles complete the decor. There’s plenty of bar stools if you want to be close to the action or just relax in the dining areas or on low level comfy seating. Two centralised well-stocked bars dominate both the outdoor terrace and inside area with large windows giving uninterrupted views across the marina, the iconic Yas Viceroy hotel and Grand Prix track.

The glitz and glamour of this chic marina located nightspot may be different in the light of day but the idea to have a family-friendly brunch that offers good food and a chilled out atmosphere is a clever one and keeps this venue busy during the quieter weekend daytime. A nice place to relax with friends and children or take visitors to see the marina and enjoy a cheeky cocktail and a bite to eat, worth a visit if you are free on a Saturday afternoon.

Iris Picnic Brunch

Location: Building 1, Yas Marina, Yas Island

Time : Saturday 12:00 noon – 4:00pm

Telephone: 055 160 5636

E-mail: reservations@irisabudhabi.com                                         

Website: irisabudhabi.com

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Brunch packages and prices

  •   AED  200 with soft drinks, mocktails  and juices. 

  •   AED 350  with house wine and draft beer
  •   AED 400  with premium alcohol
  •   AED 450  with bubbly

I was invited to this event but all the views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved.