Last weekend I think I fell in love. I hate to admit it but I’ve caught the ‘Friday Brunch’ bug. Friday as the beginning of the weekend took some time to get used to, and the idea of relaxing languidly whilst dining on delicious Italian dishes was a beautiful revelation. I have visited La Veranda before to make pizza at Chef Frederico’s cooking class, but this time I was invited to partake in brunch all’italiana.
For a relaxing mid-afternoon break it is perfectly situated, with views across the Corniche. Although, the day was slightly overcast it was perfect for sitting on the outside terrace and enjoying the excellent live Latino music of Kanela Band, a trio of talented Colombian musicians who also play at the Latino Steakhouse in the Sheraton. There is also a small bouncy castle, and popcorn and candy machines – so that’s the kids entertained too.
I was impressed to see all the different food stations and corners, and was amazed by the variety of food. For those of you who enjoy Italian food it is a no-brainer to visit La Veranda for their Friday brunch. But, I would say that their brunch would appeal to all as the selection of food is vast and will cover even the fussiest of eaters – read on and you will understand what I mean.
It is a buffet brunch, but when you first sit down you are served bread, drinks, and set starters at the table and are invited to partake of the buffet. The starter course was a pleasantly light introduction to Italian cuisine with an aubergine bake; veal with tangy capers; creamy burrata cheese; octopus salad with a raspberry dressing; and a surprisingly crisp dish of fried calamari, shrimps and vegetables. These last two were my favourite dishes as I enjoyed the zing of the fruity dressing on the beautifully sliced octopus, whilst the calamari was so good it may be close to knocking off Market’s version as my number one!
Heading inside you may be lost as to where to start with the dining room transformed into a buffet masterclass. You can find the following: Bread Display; Pickles Corner; Salad Corner; Bresaola e Melone Corner; Bruschetta Corner; and a Ceaser Salad Corner.
You can also choose from the Cured Meat corner or the Cheese Display. The cheese on offer included La Gruyere; Boursin black pepper; Boursin garlic and herbs; Taglio cheese; Blue Stilton; and an Edam Ball. There were also dried fruits, nuts, red onion chutney and pear jam – perfect for the ending of your meal.
The Seafood was impressively displayed and tempted your eyes – with no less than 12 unique dishes on offer it was hard to choose. I heartily enjoyed the Clams; Mussels; and the Calamari and Shrimp Salads.
The Lobster was fresh and succulent, whilst the oyster gave me a beautifully briny hit of the fresh sea. Also on offer was Smoked Salmon; Marinated Salmon; Marinated Tuna; Crab; and Langoustine.
There was seafood galore in this part of the dining room and I thorougly enjoyed myself as the Chef gave me a tour of what was on offer.
There were also four hot soups on offer: asparagus, mushroom, tomato and seafood. The vegetable sides to choose from were Rosemary Potatoes; Broccoli with pine seeds; Cauliflower with parsley and garlic; and Caponata di verdure. There was also a Pasta Corner with six different pastas on offer, including fresh black squid ink pasta. You can choose from tomato, cream, Bolognese, or a Quattro Formaggi sauce. You make your preferred choice and Chef Laal cooks it for you at his live cooking station – you can wait and watch him prepare the dish, or he can bring it to your table.
You can also choose to have freshly-made pizza cooked especially for you – as always the base is perfectly crisp with a flavoursome tomato base and good-quality cheese.
There is also an amazing live barbeque with salmon, lobster, hammour, lamb, beef patty, baby chicken and vegetables on offer. Chef Luis will grill your choice perfectly and will bring it to your table.
I tried some of the baby chicken with a pepper sauce, which was cooked perfectly moist. I really enjoyed the grilled lobster, with a mustard sauce, and mixed vegetables.
Now you may think that it is time for dessert – but no I have yet to mention the cooked proteins section, which had Salt Baked Cod; Lamb; Tomahawk steak; and a Roast Turkey. By this time I was saving room for desserts so I didn’t indulge in this section, but I can tell you the lamb was exquisitely tender and tasted fantastic. And I have my eye on that gorgeous-looking Roast Turkey – to be tried another day!
Desserts comprised of expertly baked concoctions with artistically placed chocolate and fruit garnishes. The full list is as follows: Mixed Nut Caramelised Tart; Coffee Opera Cake; Date Chocolate Tart; Caramelised Éclair; Raspberry Pistachio Mousse Cake; Mango Pie; Raspberry Foam Tart; Raspberry Dome; White Chocolate Snow Mousse; Red Velvet Cake; Raspberry Sacher Cake; Dark Chocolate Snow Mousse; Mango Pistachio Dome; Brazilian Coconut Cake; and Coffee Tiramisu. And that doesn’t even cover the chocolate fountains with their piles of fresh fruit. Desserts definitely needed, and deserved, their own post. Although foodies always know to save room for dessert, one simply cannot try over 15 different dishes – however I think I came close enough (don’t worry you can thank me later people!).
The Snow Mousses were lovely and light but the shortbread bases were far too hard for these sweet options. The Opera Cake was perfectly spot-on, whilst the Tiramasu had just the right hit of coffee. I found the Red Velvet Cake too dense and the serving size could have been much smaller. Raspberry Pistachio Mousse Cake had lovely light mousse layers, whilst the amazingly constructed Mango Pistachio Dome had a fruity flavour to it. Going by the plates it does look like I tried every dessert on offer (I did skip a few, I promise!) – although that Caramelised Éclair has my name on it!
The great thing about this bunch is that you will never get bored of the food offerings. No matter how many visits you make there will always be something new to try. In fact, Chef Marco suggested that there would be a few different dishes for this week’s brunch – maybe I should book myself another table?
Beautiful food, live entertainment, a scenic view, skilled chefs – at the start of the weekend what more does a person need?
UPDATE: Brunch is every Friday from 12.30 until 4.00pm. Priced QR 220 per person (with soft drinks), and QR 290 (with vino). 50% for kids aged between 6 to 12 years and kids below the age of six dine for free). For reservations, and booking information call 4485 3000 or email F&[email protected].
Miss QE was a guest of La Veranda.