Friday brunch is a weekend tradition in Abu Dhabi, synonymous with afternoons spent in stylish restaurants abuzz with chinking glasses and melodic jazz. With more venues putting their own personal stamp on this gastronomic ritual, here’s a handful of quintessential brunch venues – plus a few more offbeat takes on traditional brunch – for you to try.
The Terrace on the Corniche, The St Regis
Friday brunch at The Terrace is vibrant yet elegant and offers a fine spread of all the hors d’oeuvres, seafood, terrines and cold cuts you could ever wish for, as well as live cooking stations. Their signature Bloody Mary Brunch here is a real crowd-pleaser and guests can dine on the sunny outdoor terrace or within the elegant dining room. If you have a penchant for something bubbly, you can opt for their free-flowing Laurent Perrier champagne.
12.30pm-4pm; From AED 345 for brunch with soft drinks; AED 430 with cocktails and alcoholic drinks; AED 595 with champagne.
The St Regis Abu Dhabi Nation Towers; +971 2 694 4553
Brunch in the Clouds at The St Regis
Gourmands who really want to splash out can book The St Regis hotel’s “brunch in the clouds” – a gastronomic experience that’s hosted on the hotel’s 48th and 49th floors in the world’s highest hotel suite once a month. It takes guests through various themed rooms from a candy cinema to a caviar ice-bar and oyster room. The culinary journey is reserved for just 50 exclusive diners and for a break between courses, you can relax in the suite’s private spa.
12pm-5pm; From AED 650 with alcoholic beverages; AED 900 with champagne
The St Regis Abu Dhabi Nation Towers; +971 2 694 4553
There’s an all-you-can-eat upmarket rustic Italian lunch at this chic garden in Radisson Blu Hotel on Yas Island. Shady tables scatter the outdoor space and there’s a selection of antipasti, bowls of hearty risottos and pastas, four main courses to choose from after that, alongside live cooking stations and bowls heaped with summery salads. Grab some homemade tiramisu for dessert while you hear a saxophonist croon classic tunes. The main draw here is that for a little extra, you can hang around for the poolside party afterwards, with music continuing until 8pm and drinks still free-flowing.
12.30-4pm; From AED 200 / AED 500 with premium beverages
Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Golf Plaza, Yas Island; +971 2 656 2000
Origins, Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi
The talking point of Yas Hotel is of course, its location, within the Formula One race track. So it only seems right that the Friday Pit Stop brunch aptly takes on a buffet dining inspired by F1’s international destinations. Guests can select from pasta stations, seafood salads and other dishes from “Monaco to Shanghai”. The restaurant gets lively thanks to music by bands such as Aleks and Mike and its laid-back yet modern style is great for families.
12.30-4pm; From AED 225 for brunch with soft drinks / AED 375 with house beverages / AED 480 with bubbly and premium drinks
Origins at Yas Hotel; +971 2 656 0000
KOI restaurant and Lounge, Saadiyat Island
This Middle Eastern outpost of the original LA-based haunt KOI is a strong contender in offering Abu Dhabi’s most sophisticated brunch. Dine like the Hollywood set on Japanese-inspired plates such as the miso-bronzed black cod, lobster tacos and signature rolls. If you stretch to AED 495, you can enjoy unlimited glasses of fizz as part of “free flow Friday”.You may need to squint to read the menu under the restaurant’s moody lighting but Koi is worth a visit for the quality seafood. Children under six also dine for free. 12.30-4pm
From AED 340 for brunch with soft drinks; AED 445 with house drinks; AED 595 with French bubbly.
The Collection with The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island;+971 2 678 3334
Hakkasan, Emirates Palace
A live Peking duck cooking station, Szechuan style wontons and Wagyu beef truffle puffs are just some of the highlights of the Friday Hakka Brunch at Hakkasan. This world-renowned Cantonese restaurant promises a sophisticated setting with Jasmine green tea, punch cocktails and various Louis Roederer and Perrier Jouët champagnes. Dine on their outside terrace or within the Ling Ling Lounge – a chic dining room flooded in moody blue lighting – and make sure you leave room for their pretty desserts.
12-4pm; From AED 318 for brunch with soft drinks; AED 438 with selected alcohol; AED 638 with champagne
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace, Corniche Road; +971 2 690 7739
Las Brisas, Emirates Palace
The brunch at Las Brisas is held outside, by the hotel’s fabulous swimming pool while a live DJ provides the soundtrack. So the ambiance is uber relaxed whilst retaining the luxury you’d expect from the palatial Kempinski hotel group. It’s particularly well-suited for children (or anyone with a sweet tooth) with candy floss and popcorn stations. More savoury highlights include their roasts, shawarma, dim sum and Mediterranean salads – all enjoyed under the shade of manicured palms.
12.30-4pm; From AED 290 for brunch and soft drinks; AED 350 for house beverages; AED 480 for bubbles
West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, UAE; +971 2 690 7999
Giornotte at the Ritz Carlton
Freshly shucked oysters, wagyu beef and an entire room dedicated to cheese are just some of the draws of the Friday brunch at the Ritz Carlton. The light and airy setting at Giornotte – a contemporary Italian villa-style space – is ideal for a relaxed family gathering and children are in their element with candy floss, popcorn and chocolate fountains of the Dolce café. Come evening time, a resident DJ continues the after-party weekend at the hotel’s Sorso bar.
1-4pm; From AED 295 for brunch and soft drinks; AED 395 with house beverages; AED 495 for the bubbly package.
PO Box 91888, Al Maqta Area; +971 2 818 8888
Those who splash out on the Friday brunch in Frangipani – the signature restaurant at Zaya Nurai on Nurai Island – are in for a treat. You’ll reach this island bolthole by taking a boat from Saadiyat Island and once you’re there, you have access to tandoori BBQs, Mexican live stations and buffets replete with fresh quality ingredients. Taittinger champagne flows and guests who book for brunch can also use the hotel pool and facilities – think chic day beds, a private sandy beach and splendid Gulf views.
12.30-4pm; From AED 550 for brunch with soft drinks; AED 650 with alcohol; AED 750 with champagne
Zaya Nurai Island, Sheikh Khalifah Bin Zayed, Zaya Nurai Island; +971 2 5066222
An intimate set-up and a classy but casual vibe add to the many reasons you should try Friday brunch at The Rosewood, but the USP is without a doubt, its waterfront views. Tuck into Eggs Benedict on the terrace for the most exceptional city panorama. Or dine inside to be closer to the succulent roasts, chocolate fountains and artisanal tarts. The Rose Buds Brunch for kids (starts from AED 125) makes Aqua a good option for families.
12pm until 5pm; From AED 250 for brunch and soft drinks; AED 350 for brunch with cocktails; AED 500 for bubbly
Aqua, Sowwah Square, Al Maryah Island; Tel: +971 2 813 5550
Zuma, Al Maryah Island
Zuma, the brainchild of the famed chef Rainer Becker, is the go-to Japanese restaurant on Al Maryah Island. You’ll find it wedged in between The Rosewood and The Galleria, Abu Dhabi’s luxury shopping mall and their Friday ‘baikingu’ brunch showcases their winning formula of authentic-but-classy Izakaya-style dining. Expect everything from sashimi to roasted lobster with shiso ponzu butter, with a relaxed, buzzy atmosphere. Menu tiers vary from the ‘healthy’ cleansers option to packages that include prosecco, champagne and Japanese sake.
12.30-4pm; From AED 345 for brunch and soft drinks; AED 555 for brunch with champagne, sake and house wine or beer
Zuma, Sowwah Square; +971 2 401 5900
The lively setting and family-friendly approach aren’t the only draws of Crust, the food on offer on their Friday brunch menu is top notch too. Seafood, roast meat cuts and live cooking stations all feature at this market-inspired restaurant, with mocktails and cocktails to boot. The Four Seasons hotel offers a great range of children’s activities and a ‘Mini Bruncher’ kids menu and Zsa Zsa is a great spot to carry on the weekend revelries.
12.30pm until 4pm; From AED 275 for brunch and soft drinks; AED 385 for bubbles and cocktails.
PO Box 107032, Al Maryah Island; +971 2 333 2222