Brunch review: LPM Abu Dhabi, La Vie en Rosé
Brunch is always better with a French accent…
There’s something about brunching on a Sunday that just feels right. Like we’ve fallen in sync with the eating habits of the rest of the world. In France for example, there’s a time-honoured convention of reserving Sundays for family — long leisurely meals, broken bread, clinking glasses and reminiscing over a shared past.
And so it is at Al Maryah Island’s own little piece of Paris, LPM Restaurant & Bar. The French restaurant’s La Vie en Rosé brunch is now a permanent Sunday fixture and offers diners a chic promenade along the boulevards of authentic European cuisine. They follow the increasingly popular ‘sharing starter platters and individual mains’ format, which feels like a truer reflection of the original concept of ‘brunch’.
LPM is a handsome property — the interiors are every bit the Haussmann Bistro, with white table cloths and art deco detailing on the walls, outside the scarlet petal awning flaps noncommittally in the breeze. Somewhere, though most likely in our minds, the muffled notes of La Marseillaise play out on an accordion.
Comfortably seated inside, we peruse the entree menu as the busy waiters pirouette from table to table carrying large bottles of pink grape (the clever titular jeu-des-mots of today’s brunch). You are permitted to order as many rounds of the starters as you wish, and there’s an attractive line-up to choose from. A reflex impulse of pure gourmand gluttony compels us to order ‘the lot’ — burrata served with tomatoes and basil, yellowtail carpaccio, crispy calamari, a green lentil salad, snails with garlic butter, olive tapenade, prawns with olive oil, and red cabbage salad.
It’s an applause-worthy assembly, but the fried squid and snails emerge as the real objets d’art. Crispy breaded morsels of catch-fresh calamari, prepared to within microseconds of the perfect cuisson, are given the suggestion of heat from paprika seasoning and thin rashers of green chili. The snails are plump and meaty, served-in-shell as tradition demands, and come luxuriating in a liquid butter bath. With the calm waters of Al Maryah’s waterfront visible through the windows, this is beginning to feel convincingly like a French Riviera rendezvous.
It could be argued that the options for main courses are limited, but in fairness, they represent more than adequate range. Dishes include sirloin steak, lemon-roasted coquelet, grilled lamb cutlets, pumpkin risotto and sea bream with pistou (a sort of French version of pesto). We’ve chosen lamb and steak, and right from the first bite, it’s abundantly clear that more brunches should be like LPM.
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There’s none of the hurriedness of live cooking stations, there’s no elbow jousting at the buffet, these are essentially a la carte dishes expertly prepared in the kitchen and they, without question, belong in the upper troposphere of Abu Dhabi’s fine-dining world. Tender, expertly-sourced, cuts superbly finished with stubborn French attention to detail. You taste the char, the rendered juices, the simple, vital flavour of the meat.
The desserts follow, a creme brulee so audaciously authentic we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to discover it holds a full French passport; and a cheesecake, elegant and regal, and without succumbing to being overly rich. With almost empty plates and a waft of the white flag, we’re done.
Verdict: The vibe, the set-up, the cuisine, the soundtrack — all strike hard at LPM, but it’s the price point that offers the real coup de grace. At Dhs450 for the house package, it stands head and shoulders above its similarly-costed rivals. Rating: A
LPM, Al Maryah Island, Sundays 1pm to 3pm, two pax minimum, soft Dhs375, premium pink grape package Dhs450, premium sparkling pink grape Dhs575. Tel: (02) 692 9600, lpmrestaurants.com