Suddenly, picnic brunches are all the rage and while it sounds nice, it usually isn’t a picnic (pun intended). To me, the central elements that make a picnic are not simply baskets and red and white checkered tablecloths. What I enjoy most is that they’re usually outdoors, away from the busyness of people and noise of the city. It’s about enjoying a leisurely meal while immersed in nature; listening to birds, the wind rustling through the trees, and mostly the peace and quiet.
While the Picnic Brunch at Iris definitely did not fit my picture of a quiet, secluded experience in nature, it was in fact one of the best brunch experiences I have had in Abu Dhabi. Yes, the iconic basket and red blanket are handed to you upon arrival, but it was really more of a theme. That said, it was a nice touch and while we were the only ones who did so, we did in fact put our blanket to use and lay it out on the grass for dessert overlooking the Yas Marina and Yas Marina Circuit. So I did get a taste of my vision of a picnic, but Abu Dhabi style; exchange the views of grassy meadows with that of large yachts and a Lite Brite hotel and sub the chirping of birds with F1 engines and house music.
Iris is situated at the end of Yas Marina and while there is some indoor seating, the whole restaurant is open with a nice big patio overlooking a stretch of grass leading to the water. It’s a modern bar atmosphere, but the grassy area with nearby play area, kids tables, and activities make it much more family-friendly. The music was a bit much for our newborn, but I could appreciate that it was a live DJ playing decent tunes.
The real highlight of this brunch is the food, as it should be. I am a self-proclaimed foodie and so, kind of a food snob, so I usually lower my expectations for these type of things. My general gripe with brunch buffets is that they put out everything under the sun and if you don’t restrain yourself and be selective, you wind up with a mess of a plate with horrible food combinations. This buffet was totally different. The chef does the selecting for you, which is how it should be in my opinion as most of us don’t have the sense to know or pay attention to which flavors go together and which do not. While there was an ample selection of different foods, they were all well curated and not overdone. It was the only time I did not feel overwhelmed standing in front of a buffet. Even if I tried everything, it all seemed to mesh on a well put together plate. And to top it all off, the aesthetics of the spread were very well done. I especially liked how the salads came in individual little glass jars displayed in a wooden barrel full of ice. All really nice touches that the artist/designer in me appreciated.
This is one brunch that’s definitely worth it, and I look forward to going back.
In fact, this is the perfect venue to book your spot for the upcoming Mother’s Day Brunch on March 19th! The brunch will be in full swing with a special focus (and gift!) for mothers.
Time: 12PM – 4PM
Prices: Children are free, and basic price is AED 200 for buffet with mocktails, AED 350 for house grape and draft hops, AED 400 for premium drinks, and AED 450 for bubbles.
Call: +971 55 160 5636