A bonfire of the gastronomies…

As part of its adoption into the Mandarin Oriental portfolio, Emirates Palace has been undergoing a bit of a transformation recently. Entire wings of the luxurious chateau-sur-mer are going under the design surgeon’s knife for a tasteful reimagining of what is a genuinely iconic building.

One of the auxiliary benefits of this glow-up, that is available for everyone to enjoy right now, is the shake up to the hotel’s culinary offering. We’ve already shared the news about just how important an addition Italian restaurant, Talea by Antonio Guida is to the capital’s cuisine scene, but there’s more.

On the scene

After being dropped off by the hotel’s golf buggy chauffeur service, we’ve plonked ourselves down on the breezy terrace of the Las Brisas pool complex. It’s early evening, and we have a grandstand view of the sun’s amber orb slipping into the watery Corniche horizon.

A jumbo tiki-torch bonfire crackles contently in the distance, a roaming bongo player adds another layer of percussion to the brunch’s soundtrack of low-fi house beats, and all of this, along with the meandering network of pool lights around us, contribute to giving the venue a very strong vacay vibe.

It’s humid, but well within tolerable range which is important because this brunch will continue to run on the last Saturday of the month throughout the summer.

On the menu

Our first sharing selection arrives, this brunch is a predominantly Latin feast and it opens with a fesity guacamole and authentic tortilla dipping chips, there are fresh oysters with a spicy salsa vinaigrette too. A champion start. Further plates of light bites and Mexican street food slide onto the table, we have marinated chicken wings, baby maize alote and perfectly cooked calamari fritti.

There’s a tuna ceviche course which follows party lines, a carnival of citrus and spice. The meat of our main course comes from the grill, a medley of flame cooked seafood — octopus, prawns and chunky white fish. It’s served with soft taco shells and a collection of sauces and salsas that are a delight to experiment with.

Our servers come to the table with dessert, weaving in between the dripping diners returning from mid-brunch pool breaks. It’s a collection of pastries and cakes, topped with fruit, puffed with cream and steeped in chocolate. It’s a neat end to a well-conceived culinary line up.

Verdict: Considering that this is not and was never intended to be a white table cloth fine dining experience, the standard of food is conspicuously high. Palace hospitality remains almost unmatched in Abu Dhabi and the collective experience of this brunch is absolutely on-brand, in addition to being keenly priced.

Rating: A-

Emirates Palace, W Cornich Road, every last Sat of the month 5.30pm to 10pm, Dhs495. Tel: (02) 690 9000, @emiratespalace

Images: Provided