“My number one advice is to eat fresh, and seasonally.” Todd English
The weekend just got a little more exciting with the discovery that two of my favourite things have been combined, table brunching and delicious Italian inspired food at Todd’s Lazy Weekend Brunch. This delightful feast is served at Todd English’s Olives located at the Venetian Village within the grounds of The Ritz – Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal. Olives is a hidden gem which I had the pleasure of visiting twice last week, earlier in the week I met multi award winning Chef English in person while he was visiting his Abu Dhabi establishment and then on Saturday the other half and I enjoyed his three course relaxed weekend brunch concept.
Olives offers diners a fusion of Chef English’s finest Italian and rustic Mediterranean flavoursome dishes with his distinctive American edge. Chiselled and charming Chef English and his doppelganger son Oliver (seriously you have to double take they are so alike) spent three days cooking up a storm in the capital. Fellow bloggers and media types enjoyed an evening in their company where we enjoyed a variety of his sample sized dishes from a selection of appetisers and mains through to desserts accompanied by signature drinks. My top picks were definitely the honeyed sweet potato bravas with avocado crema and crumbled feta and the red velvet cake, both equally divine as was the beetroot and pomegranate mocktail created especially for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Olives was Chef English’s first culinary venture in the UAE following his American TV fame, numerous cookbooks and many restaurant ventures in New York, Las Vegas and Mexico. Olives Abu Dhabi offers a menu brimming with house-made pastas, flatbreads, steaks, seafood, salads and stunning desserts under the watchful eye of executive Head Chef Jamie Mendoza (pictured right below) who hails from Mexico and previously worked at Olives in the magnificent Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas.
Todd’s Lazy Weekend Brunch is most definitely another Abu Dhabi brunch bucket list contender, it’s relaxed vibe, fabulous food with unlimited beverages and the attentive service make it a throughly enjoyable experience. Brunch here in Abu Dhabi is constantly evolving, long gone are the days of the huge buffets being the only option, call me lackadaisical but I’m a big fan of table brunch, like many of newer brunch concepts Todd’s Lazy Weekend brunch is available on both Fridays and Saturdays. All the appetisers on the menu are served to the table sharing style, you then select your own main and everyone gets ALL the desserts, it’s also family friendly with activities like pizza making and face painting available to keep the younger members of the family entertained.
Due to the lovely weather we choose to dine alfresco on the terrace and enjoy the Al Maqtaa waterfront views but for those who prefer to dine in an air-conditioned space there’s the choice of two dining areas. The smaller dining space has plush vibrant orange furnishings, ornate tiled floor and views of the open show kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work while you dine or there’s the more stylish neutral coloured larger dining area with booth seating adjacent to the chic red-hued bar and lounge. Manager Kirsten Ruffer is fantastic, she goes the extra mile in both service and customer satisfaction, dishes were adapted to suit my vegetarian requirements and alternatives added where necessary, I was impressed with her and the team’s attitude and attentiveness.
Our meal began with artisan breads and a selection of tapenade followed by a creamy crab and cauliflower bisque and a version sans crab for me, both were topped with crunchy brioche croutons. Next was the starter selection of wild mushroom flatbread with herbed goats cheese, grilled chicken salad with a honey mustard dressing and the renowned Olives beef carpaccio, beautifully presented on a gorgonzola rosti cake with mesclun greens, balsamic reduction, scallion cream, pearl onions and topped with parmesan shavings, we had the added dish of the honey glazed sweet potato bravas because I had raved about it so much. We were already quite full at this stage but rallied when the mains appeared, the other half’s prime beef tenderloin with roast potatoes, spicy buttered broccoli spears and a tomato semi-glaze and a fresh and tasty caprese salad for me, also available for main course was a choice of chicken parmigiana, sea bass fillet or vegetarian tagliatelle.
The final course was individual plated desserts, a delightful selection of miniature Olives tasting treats. Our server was super enthusiastic about this course especially the hazelnut semifreddo which is her favourite, she recommended we leave it to last to savour it, following her suggestion I polished off the aforementioned red velvet cake, tiramisu, lemon curd and house-made vanilla ice cream and let me tell you she was not wrong. The semifreddo (translated from Italian as half-cold) was a delicious creamy chocolatey hazelnutty delight combining frozen chocolate mousse with coffee cream, raspberry pearls and cocoa puff streusel, totally worthy of her praise.
We have been privileged to visit many of the capital’s finest restaurants over the last eight years and have indulged in many brunches but Todd’s Lazy weekend brunch prompted the other half to repeatedly say it was some of the best food he’s eaten in Abu Dhabi, high praise indeed. Fine dining at Olives is competitively priced and ticks so many boxes, fantastic food, exceptional and friendly service with a really nice overall vibe and a stunning waterfront location, I’m looking forward to returning for a cosy romantic dinner and trying the weekend Todd’s Breakfast too.
Todd’s Lazy Weekend Brunch
Location: Venetian Village within the grounds of the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
Telephone: 02 404 1941
Weekend Brunch: Friday and Saturday 12:30pm – 4:00pm
Cost*: AED 190 with soft drinks and AED 290 for the vino package
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday – 12:30pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday – 9am to 11pm
*Prices are subject to 10% service charge, 6% tourism fee and 4% municipality fee.
Read more about the Venetian Village in previous post Review: Venetian Village
I was invited to review this brunch. All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved. Additional photos used courtesy of www.venetianvillage.ae/todd-englishs-olives/ and photo of Chef Todd English used courtesy of hoteliermiddleeast.com