Location: The World Trade Center Mall, Abu Dhabi
AED 250 –Non-Alcoholic Package
AED 350– House Beverages Package
AED 450- Champagne Package
Timings: 12.30 pm-4 pm
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”- Hunter S. Thompson
On a glorious sunny Friday, the (crazy) In Search of Brunch crew head off to La Capital (Abu Dhabi) to celebrate our dear Maria’s birthday. I am extra excited as she has selected a pan-Latin restaurant, so I am looking forward to a tasty meal in a fiesta setting.
Walking into the restaurant I am taken a back by the sheer size of the place, which sadly bears many similarities to the failed Izel (at Conrad, Dubai), which shut down it’s doors after less than a year. I recently stumbled upon this article: “The dip in the economy, combined with the growth in the F&B sector, has caused an oversupply according to one industry expert. Figures from Euromonitor International showed there were 16,720 F&B outlets in the UAE at the end of last year, with 19,000 outlets expected by 2020.” Given the current economic climate, I am amazed by the opening of these huge restaurants, which will have to bear the pressure of massive over-head costs, which they will not be able to meet, unless they keep the restaurant at near fully occupancy.
The restaurant advertises itself as : BU! is a contemporary, energetic pan-Latin concept nestled in the heart of Abu Dhabi. The name derives from “buenisimo” – Spanish for exceptionally good, and refers to a bevy of exceptional offerings, such as flamboyant entertainment, innovative cocktails and the cutting-edge of Latin American inspired cuisine. Our food is prepared in a modern style and presented in an environment that is effortlessly chic with a worn-in industrial elegance.
Yes, it sounds very exciting, but the million Peso question is -how well did hey execute this flamboyant vision?
The brunch Menu consists of:
Snacks- guacamole, papas chimichurri, and Fresca salad
Ceviche bar- tuna, sea bass, shrimp
Street food- tacos, anticuchos, arepas
Grill- Picanha, lamb ribs, chicken
Sides- rice, mushrooms, corn, fries
The snacks were appetizing, with the papas chimichurri very similar to the Levant ‘Batata Harra” (spicy potatoes with garlic, lemon, & coriander). Sadly it all went downhill from there. The tuna ceviche was average at best (no where near the level of COYA or Totora), but the sea bass ceviche was tough, making it almost inedible.
The tacos & arepas came in three options: beef, chicken, and vegetables. The beef was decent enough, but I did not enjoy the chicken. The major problem was the texture of the taco & arepa- which was too hard, and not as per authentic specifications. The beef anticuchos was tough and overcooked, the chicken version was ok.
Unfortunately the grill options did nothing to improve the situation. The lamb ribs were a disaster. The Picanha was below average, and frankly miles away from the delicious Picanha served at Brazilian Churrascarrias (Texas Do Brasil or Chammas).
The Beverages options were:
Beer- bottled Budweiser, bottled Xingu
Wine- 1 type each of white, red, rose, sparkling
Spirits- vodka, gin, whiskey, rum
Cocktails- mojito, caiprinha, cuba libre, mai tai, rum punch
I will spare you a rant about the beer options and move straight into a cocktail rant. I first tried one of my favorite cocktails, the Caipirinha, which happens to have a special place in my heart. The Caiprinha I was served in Brazil, would all contain plenty of fresh fruit (the classic is made with limes, probably 1-2 limes per drink), brown sugar, and generous amounts of Cachaça. BU’s version had none of the above, and after having a sip of the equally disappointing Mojito and Mai Tai, I ordered Gin & Tonic for the rest of the day (something their bar tenders could not mess up).
The brunch is hosted in the spacious outside terrace, with a live (Colombian) band keeping the crowd entertained throughout the brunch. Initially the staff where overwhelmed with our large table (20 people) re-ordering drinks at the speed of lightening. We found ourselves irritatingly waiting too long between drinks (to be fair we are very serious about having a full glass at all times), however the staff managed to pick up their pace & keep us adequately hydrated (or intoxicated).
The bottom line is this: great concept on paper; let down by poor execution in reality.
Value for Money: 10/20.