A Friday Brunch is a staple here in the UAE – and with such a wide variety to choose from, it’s quite difficult to know where to begin.
If you don’t know or haven’t heard of the ‘Brunch’ concept – let me tell you. Friday Brunch is a decedent, indulgent afternoon of unlimited food and drink served somewhere between 12 and 4pm, and then following that – plenty of after parties going on into the evening. But the scope for these brunches run on quite a scale. There are the cheaper, more reserved brunches aimed at families & friends who just want to spend some quality time together on a Friday afternoon – and then there are the extravagant, show-offy, cabaret type brunches with free flowing champagne, cocktails and who knows what else aimed for the more extreme party goers. Think of these ones as a big night out with your pals where the memories the next morning tend to be quite fuzzy. Saturday would generally be a bit of a write-off.
From my recent review of The Laughter Factory at Park Rotana, the lovely team there got in touch to see whether I would like to try the Friday Brunch at Coopers, the expat-aimed British-type sports bar…and of course we obliged.
My research told me that Coopers was a roast brunch, which Matt was very excited about, but you’ll probably understand when I tell you that my brain went into a bit of panic mode. Being in the last 11 weeks of my first year bloggiversary, I’m obviously trying as hard as I can to stick to my plan and ensure that I look as good as I can for my one year photo. I told Matt my worries and mentioned to him that I was going to use this opportunity to figure out whether you can do a Friday Brunch healthily. So we set off with the best intentions…
We were greeted kindly when heading in to Park Rotana, by all of the staff that we passed – and once we arrived at Coopers a lovely member of staff sat us at our table. On the table was a full explanation of the different ‘levels’ of brunch available – either free flowing soft drinks for 125++, free flowing house beverages for 160++ or free flowing premium beverages for 190++. Sticking to my healthy guns, I opted for the soft drinks but of course I wasn’t going to force watermelon juice onto Matt, so he went for house beverages.
What I found lovely was that all of our drinks were served to the table, and we never ran out of anything. Matt’s beer was refreshed when he had 1/4 pint left, and even though I generally stuck to water, the servers couldn’t have done a better job of topping me up and double checking whether I wanted anything more exciting from the bar (though I think the watermelon juice was as risqué as it got).
The atmosphere in Cooper’s was lovely and relaxed – something that me and Matt definitely needed after his week of work in Dubai – but there were still some great tunes playing in the background to keep the place alive. There were guests sat at the bar just having some weekend drinks, and groups of friends & couples at all of the surrounding tables taking their time and enjoying each others company.
As in any brunch, there were the different ‘stations’ set up around the room. Firstly, the salad section which had a variety of salads and accompaniments – including some yummy tomato/pesto bread, and then there was the main carvery section – hosting all of the components necessary for a good roast dinner. With four meats to choose from, there was definitely something for everyone.
I started with a small salad, whereas Matt went right in for the good stuff! I still had my mind firmly set on staying as healthy as possible, so I chose a salad to fill me up a bit before having an ‘eyes bigger than belly’ moment with the main dishes.
Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Mashed Potato, Roast Potatoes, Grilled Vegetables & Mustard Gravy
Beef Sirloin, Mashed Potato, Grilled Sausage, Steak & Mushroom Pie (being my guinea pig and trying it for me)
Salad with Tomato & Pesto Bread
Roast Beef / Roast Turkey, Grilled Sausage, Grilled Vegetables & Rosemary Gravy
…and a itty bitty roast potato (because you can’t go without a roast potato!!)
There was always a chef on hand to carve your chosen meat (which was cooked perfectly by the way, with options of darker or pinker available), and I even noticed one of the team taking a picture of the buffet set up – so I know they must have been proud of the work that they put in to pull this off. The chef presence front of house was insane, and it was them and only them that ensured that the buffet items were fully topped up, leaving the restaurant and bar staff to ensure that our drinks were fully topped up – very appreciated!
There were other options on the buffet that I didn’t get to try, but using Matt as a little bit of a guinea pig really helped. He said that the Beef & Mushroom Pie was incredible, and the mash was pure perfection. There was pasta and fish available too, so once again – definitely something for everyone.
“Roast potatoes my mum would approve of…” Myself (whilst eating said roast potato)
Now…on to dessert!
There was a lonnnnnng bar with countless sweet options lined up on it – from Red Velvet cake to Chocolate Bites & Pretzels – but I took a selection of mango’s & pineapple for my last course…. okay, maybe one little chocolate bite too! It was cold and fresh, the way it should be and I enjoyed every bite.
Unfortunately (for me) though, I couldn’t resist picking up a little more chocolatey-cakey-goodness to satisfy my tingling taste buds. There was a warm chocolate sponge/brownie with thick chocolate sauce just calling my name, along with a slither of carrot cake & a green tea swirl…but I figured that green tea and carrots are perfectly healthy and therefore counter-balanced the chocolate wonderfulness (ahem).
Last orders for drinks was at 3:30pm – but we didn’t have to worry about this at all because a server made sure to come over and check whether we needed anything else before brunch finished. Matt finished off with a single shot of tequila (can you imagine free-flowing tequila for 4 hours???!!) followed by another shot of tequila gold (which was available on the premium beverages brunch, a great way for the staff to upsell for our next visit).
With brunch finishing at 4pm, and the bar quieting down, I expected to see the staff start to pack things away from around quarter-to, but no such thing happened. It was five past four when the chefs came back out to remove the food from the buffet stations – and a whole 13 minutes later, swift and practiced – the room was put back to rights.
The relaxed atmosphere of Cooper’s at Park Rotana meant that we really didn’t feel the need to rush off and leave, so it was a great opportunity to just sit and have a chat and a laugh. A really great afternoon. The staff had stopped to chat and constantly made sure we had enjoyed our afternoon
One of the cheaper, more relaxed options for a brunch – but definitely one that we will be heading back to. We both very much enjoyed our afternoon, the service and the staff – and we are looking forward to being able to try out some of the other restaurants in the complex to see whether the amazing standards are across the board.
Friday Brunch is served at Cooper’s @ Park Rotana, 12-4pm. For bookings, call (+971) 02 657 3333