Enter the Gardens of Babylon, Abu Dhabi’s own gastronomic wonder…

Walk into the lobby of the Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri, alongside Abu Dhabi’s endless coastline and you already know this is going to be an experience like none other in the capital. Your feet lead you, almost instinctively, down the stairway to the lower level of the stunning property, which houses Sofra Bld, our hosts for the afternoon.

Images: supplied

We’re dining with Sofra this afternoon to sample their celebrated Gardens of Babylon brunch, and a welcome beverage has us refreshed en route to their bustling buffet hall. Our excitement is evident as we’re in four minutes early while the service staff are putting the finishing touches on things, as we the admire the décor, soak in the ambiance and get acquainted with their vibrant garden theme.

This unique brunch, which draws inspiration from the ancient city of Babylon, has us excited to enjoy a lavish buffet spread that includes a multitude of exciting culinary concoctions. The staff take us on a full tour of the buffet once it’s all set up, and it is beyond impressive. There are separate tables for seafood and sushi, mezze stations, elaborate trays with over five types of caviar on offer, a fully equipped grill and steak station, endless bread varieties, a Mediterranean table with all of the classics. As we’re filling our plates, the room has suddenly filled up and a carnivalesque energy has permeated the air.

Speaking of which, live entertainment is aplenty here. Our musicians for the afternoon, Ayele Band, have our attention and everyone else’s, but it is when the Latin dancers and their skilled percussionist take to the floor that things get truly festive. Colour, fervor and beats take over as guests sit back and enjoy the entertainment, and after being whisked away a few minutes later, we’re told they’ll make an appearance every hour during the three-hour brunch experience. This is vibrance in all its glory.

Our plates are decked with marinated salmon, sushi rolls, and varieties of mezze, including the beetroot moutabbal, a relatively new contender on the capital’s Mediterranean scene, but one that certainly looks like it’s here to stay. That said, we’re compelled to go all out with our seafood indulgence today, and the tiger prawns are to savour. At the end of two refills, we have just enough space to descend on the dessert table, with several flavours (and colours) of artisanal ice cream demanding to be consumed. The Gardens of Babylon experience at Sofra Bld also allows guests to enjoy a buffet-like experience with their beverages of choice, a unique spin we’re introduced to for the first time.

The Gardens of Babylon brunch overlooks the Qaryat Al Beri’s pool and the vastness of the city, with a magnificent backdrop of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. As we depart all kinds of happy, a rendition of the Eagles’ Hotel California rings out. Except, this is Hotel Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi, and we highly recommend you enjoy the sensory celebration that is the Gardens of Babylon.

Sofra Bld, Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Khor Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, Saturdays 1:00pm to 4:00pm, Dhs328 soft drinks, Dhs428 house drinks, Dhs528 sparkling. Tel: (0)2 509 8555, @shangrilaabudhabi