Is the famous brunch as effervescent in the new normal?

Back in the days where surgical masks were primarily emergency rooms accessories, we’d scarcely raise an eyebrow at the thought of jostling elbows in a seafood station queue. Like much else in life, 2020 has changed all that.

Buffet brunch in the Covid era poses some big logistical challenges for restaurants. First, there’s the question of numbers, all sat in relative proximity over the same time period.

Then there’s the issue of self-service, traditionally a central element of the buffet format. Now the mere idea of swapping of tongs or someone saying ‘scuse fingers’ before diving in for a maki roll is enough to send us scrambling for a soak under the sanitiser pump.

So in addition to exceptional food, value and service our brunching wish list now also includes outstanding safety. And it’s something, we’re pleased to report, that The Westin’s Bubbalicious brunch has achieved.

Almost immediately after being led to our socially-distant table, we’re provided with a platter of sharing starters. Fresh salads, prawns, seared tuna and grilled vegetables. It’s a neat assortment of palate-pleasing amuse-bouche nibbles but swiftly seen off.

 

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During the rest of the afternoon, we’re free to roam the various culinary quartiers at leisure.

For stations where food is to be cooked fresh or go through a level of preparation before being plated, you place your order with a chef or server and they bring it directly to your (numbered) table. For more immediately fulfillable requests you can ask your contact on the otherside of the emirate-required glass partition to do the plating live.

This system could descend into chaos if those running the show weren’t on their A-Game. Thankfully the calm, professional staff, unflappable in the face of forgotten table numbers, had the process down to a fine art.

As for the food itself, it’s equally untroubled by the demands ‘the new normal’. Our first autonomous selection involves a combination of oysters and sushi. It absolutely meets the measure of both reputation and past form.

We also enjoy the dim sum selection and crispy roast duck bao. Prepared fresh, the delicate interplay of mellow umami and more aromatic Eastern flavours are all there.

The climax for those with a savoury, carnivorous leaning, will undoubtedly be the carvery and grill section. A counter lined with roasted joints, beef, lamb, salmon and chicken, all with complementing condiments and sides.

King prawns and a varied trove of fish, whole and filleted are also present, ready to be tossed on the barbie at the request of guests.

The quality of produce and technique of the kitchen team all meets the very highest in UAE international buffet brunch standards. Rich buttery brushes, clever marinades and precise cooking times – help to elevate the overall offering.

Perhaps one thing that is lacking most starkly, is a diverse salad bar. But the constraints of pandemic policy compliance, of course for our collective safety, is almost certainly at least a contributing factor.

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It’s a slightly toned-down affair, compared to the pre-Covid famed Bubbalicious fiesta atmosphere, with (in accordance to governmental decree) no live music. But the ambiance remains lively, buzzy and appropriately bubbly.

And if you only turn up for the signature blended beverages, cheese and sweets, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. With over 20 different forms of fromage; gelato, chocolate, fruit, cake and gateaux; it’s a belt-loosening end to the banquet.

In our opinion Bubbalicious rises to the challenges set by this new reality we’re all living in, and what’s more, it lets us escape some others, if only for a few hours.

Fairways, The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Sas Al Nakhl, Fri 1pm to 4pm, soft package Dhs195, house Dhs350, premium Dhs595, Dhs125 kids six to 12, reservation is required. Tel: (02) 616 9999

Images: Provided