The days of Marina-dwellers having to trek halfway across the city to get their Friday brunch fix is now a thing of the past, thanks to the influx of new hotels in the area. Media One has already garnered quite a following with its boisterous brunches, so we were interested to see what niche the Mövenpick would carve for itself – rowdy revelry or a more demure dining experience?
First impressions were certainly promising. Floor-to-ceiling windows ensured that the sizeable indoor seating area was bright and breezy, while the al-fresco poolside dining section basked in the shade provided by the sandy towers of JBR.
On taking a table outside, we were promptly issued a glass of crisp, sparkling grape, which readied us for the daunting task of negotiating the buffet. Our attention was captured by the extensive sushi display towards the centre of the room: a colourful mosaic of salmon, toro and edomae nigiri and California rolls. The taste was equal to the aesthetics; cool, silken slices of raw fish were complemented wonderfully by the vigour of fresh wasabi.
Unfortunately, this quality didn’t extend as far as the Chinese offerings – the dim sum tasted as though they’d been sat in the heat trays for too long and were drained of moisture, while the texture of the cha siu baau (pork buns) was cloying. We reverted to the seafood dishes, cracking open lobster claws containing soft, sweet meat, before filling our plates with oysters, which were set alight with coriander, shallots, lime and a dash of Tabasco.
Our seafood cravings sated, we headed to the live cooking station, where fresh pastas – capellini, chitarra, fedelini, spaghetti, vermicelli – were served with variations on traditional sauces, from alfredo to arrabbiata and ragù to romesco. We opted for the ravioli stuffed with a molten ricotta. A mere prod of the fork had the cheese oozing from the delicately cut pasta like lazy lava, which proceeded to melt into the coarse bolognese topping. The quality and quantity of this dish was enough to temper our gluttony, rendering our fourth and final assault on the buffet a somewhat meek affair. We failed to finish the food plucked from the carvery, the tough beef and parched Yorkshire puddings doing little to reinvigorate our appetites. Not one of the highlights, certainly, but not enough to detract from the quality of the abundant offerings elsewhere.
Mövenpick’s casual dress code suggests a desire to appeal to anyone and everyone; the atmosphere is laid back and families appear to be particularly well catered for, despite there not being a designated play area for kids. However, tiny terrors will be kept occupied by jar after jar of lollipops and jelly beans, and an array of luridly coloured chocolates and ice cream.