Eat, Play, Laugh Brunch {Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi}

Wow.  After a few delicious cocktails (not the sugar laden, juice-filled ones that you receive at many places) and some fantastic food, I realized that I don't think I have ever actually had so much fun at a brunch as I had this past Friday.  Having launched at the end of January, I finally made it to the new (appropriately named) "Eat, Play, Laugh" Brunch at the brand new Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi.  Where else can you play games before, after, or even during your meal?  There is a giant Connect Four, PlayStation Move Boxing (you actually have to go through the motions, which is helpful for burning off that extra brownie), a giant Jenga set, and Ping Pong (well ok, Beer Pong really). While you eat, why not request a caricature be drawn of you? Or want to see some magic tricks?  The artists will just come to your table.  And all of this fun is already included in the price, so do something you probably have not done in a while and PLAY!

  I have to say I was a little concerned about going to a brunch with such a focus on fun, would it be over the top silly and full of people just trying to maximize their bill in liquor?  But that was hardly the case.  I was really impressed with the professionalism of all of the staff, the clean bright atmosphere, and the classiness of the other patrons.
    So on to the reason we brunch...the food.  Each of the four signature restaurants presents special highlights from their menus, which is a great way to get a preview of some of the hotel's dining options.  Some of my favorites were....
The tandoori (a specially trained chef was cooking directly out of the tandoor oven).  Those shrimp were perfectly charred and still so juicy!
The roasting station, with made-to-order steaks lead by their specialized team from the JW Steakhouse, (AND the made to order charcoal grilled fish).
The salads and veg options were all very flavorful and made from high quality flavorful ingredients, like burrata, heirloom tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella.  I could have eaten a plate full of those chewy roasted parsnips too.
   The bread section included cloud-like quiche with a very thin pastry crust, keeping it from being overly rich.
The Velocity (Marriott Downtown's bar/restaurant) offered up hot juicy burgers constantly coming off the grill (tempting me again and again each time the chef would grill up another batch), soft creamy lobster rolls in a fluffy white bun, and even a little fusion, showcasing an Asian style lobster spring roll.  pluck off a few leaves of fresh mint and fresh coriander from the bunch, and take a bright, crispy, lobster-filled bite!  

There were also multiple different beverage sections (not including my favorite, the Aperol Spritz cart when you arrive), and this is where I would have expected things to be poorly done. As we know, when many places have multiple bars, they are looking to appeal to the quantity over quality crowd.  But the thing about Marriott Downtown is that, although they could, they don't make their beverage selection the major marketing factor.  They promote the brunch around the concept of fun and games, and the quality drinks are a very smart addition (well, requirement, in my mind). 
 The first bar welcomes you with fruity options, including a pina colada in a fresh coconut.  Another station offers an only slightly sweet red and white sangria with bowls of fresh fruit to sweeten it as you like. Another cart offers bourbon specialties, and the final bar offers the classic gin and vodka drinks, like a fabulously gingery Moscow Mule served in a traditional bronze cup. 
Marriott Downtown is the new kid on the block in Abu Dhabi, but so far it is really stepping up to the plate.  Not only was the food great and the atmosphere fun, but the service was also really on par, and seemed really happy to be there too.  Caspar, an especially outgoing server from Zimbabwe, always made sure our glasses were full and our plates were cleared, while telling us great stories about his experiences back home.  

P.S. So Marriott is running an amazing promo right now.  If you book brunch for two you get a 1-night stay for FREE (in a brand new hotel)!  Seriously??? Get ready to have some fun and head down to check it out.     

Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi
12:30 - 4pm Every Friday
+971 23047777


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