Al Maeda at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at JBR, Dubai

Located in the beating heart of Jumeirah Beach Residences, and caressed by the gentle Gulf waters, Al Maeda offers an upscale Arabian Saturday Brunch with access to the hotel pool and beach.

I did say upscale… see one of their desserts!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

At the same time, the brunch is humble and simple, paying attention to details that matter, but not trying too hard to impress with gadgets and golden peacock feathers…

Simply good honest food, with an organic touch, and a very pleasant environment!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

The brunch buffet is of excellent quality, at the same time it is focused on favorite Arabian dishes, traditional and modern.

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

In addition to a live grill station, and a full bread oven, for that unmistakable freshness.

At the grill, salmon or beef steak, cooked to your preference, and looking something like this:

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

While the well-stocked bar accompanies your meal, also with fresh fruit juice.

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

Numerous seating variations are available, including a very clever outdoor smoking section on a terrace, which is also enclosed for keeping out the heat.

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

It gives you the outdoor terrace feeling of dining in a palm tree oasis overlooking the pool, without the hot weather. Naturally, in winter, this will be fully open to the sea breeze!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

And this is also where the mighty sheesha reigns, should you care to indulge!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

Back inside, the buffet is in full swing, and the rice and couscous dishes sing.

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

Supported by delicious stews, vegetable dishes, more live cooking…

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

And probably the tastiest Shish Taouk I’ve ever tasted!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

A masterpiece!

The dessert section deserves a whole separate article of its own!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

So I will just leave you with a few photos…

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

And of course piping hot coffee!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

There’s no rush, you have the whole afternoon!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

Stay a while and relax, catch up with friends and family.

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai

And enjoy one of Dubai’s memorable Saturday Brunches at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach!

weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
weekenduae Al Maeda DoubleTree by Hilton JBR Dubai
Al Maeda - DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Grill at Marriott Al Forsan in Abu Dhabi

The Grill is one of Abu Dhabi’s foremost steakhouses, hosted at The Marriott Al Forsan, and offering an excellent venue for a fine-dining experience.

It’s truly a splendid restaurant – with the interior design really setting the mood.

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi
weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

Whether your group requires a long table for hoots and laughter,

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

or you may prefer to sit shoulder to shoulder in a quiet private corner.

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

Also a fabulous boardroom dining room is available.

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

But wherever you choose to sit, you will be fully served!

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

From hand-crafted mocktails to the finest of wines, The Grill caters to every taste with sophistication in selection and presentation.

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi
weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

But let’s get down to business!

The kitchen is an open-plan grill-house, with a large live cooking area and exceptional aspirators removing the smoke and cooking aromas.

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

And from the kitchens, a tight yet comprehensive menu will cater to your every preference.

The appetizers were extravagant in their complexity and detailed plating, soliciting wows both from the eyes and the palate.

The sauteed scallops were exalted with an excellent pairing of green pea puree – contributing an earthiness that maximized the delicate flavors of the shellfish; and the partnership with the white espuma added a winning texture – a masterful introduction to the evening meal!

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

At the same time, the spectacular octopus entree was accompanied by carefully curated fresh tomatoes of numerous varieties, each of them different in their tastes, from sweet and suave to wild and sour – a collection which at every bite gave a surprise and which perfectly matched and elevated the exterior crunchiness of the octopus and then melted with the soft interior.

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

A freshly-baked soft bread and delicious tapanades kept the starters company.

And then it was time for the mains!

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

The mains surprised in a different way: in their devotion to simplicity and straightforward grilling with minimal seasoning.

It’s true that a good selection of 14 sides and 11 sauces were presented with the menu, but the Chef’s intention was clearly to minimize any intervention that would detract from the direct grilling.

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi
weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

The understated presentation should not fool you, though, as the ingredients are of top quality, and you have the choice of Argentinian, U.S., or Australian beef cuts, as well as lamb, chicken, fish, and live Canadian lobster.

In retrospect, I wish I had gone for the “For Two or More” section, as not only they are finished at your table, adding some welcome theatrics to the main dishes, but I’m still dreaming of the 1.2 kg USDA Fox River Beef Tomahawk!

Dessert reverted back to impressive creativity, with a play on hard exterior vs. soft interior – and a lemon-lookalike that for a moment I thought perhaps really was a lemon!

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi
weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

Of equal satisfaction, the chocolate creation, presented with incredible braised pineapple slices shaved thinly:

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

All in all, The Grill is at the top of the evening dining pyramid in Abu Dhabi, with a delightful atmosphere and impeccable service, and a drinks selection second to none.

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

As well as a wide variety of beef cuts ready for the grilling in front of your very eyes!

weekenduae The Grill Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi
The Grill - Marriott Hotel Al Forsan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dubai Vegan Days Brunch at Rove Hotel, by Chef Zendy Marsam

Firstly, a disclaimer – I’m not a vegan. I do like animals, also on my plate.

I know that’s not what Dubai Vegan Days organizers want to hear, but it’s the truth.

But I also love food, especially tasty food that makes me close my eyes and hum in delight as the flavors – and the aroma! – fire up the nerve receptors on my tongue and my palate, and then rush the electrical impulses to my brain: Oh my! THAT is amazing!

And so I accepted the invite to the Vegan Brunch, thinking to myself, if isn’t good, I just won’t write about it. It does happen…

But since you’re reading it, I guess you already know that that I loved it!

The Rove Hotel is a nice and cheery place, and their all-day dining restaurant is called The Daily – and it was serving as host for the Dubai Vegan Days brunch.

It’s an interesting set-up, whereby Dubai Vegan Days liaises with various venues in Dubai, and also coordinates with well-known vegan chefs, and then offers a very reasonable weekend brunch based purely on plant-based ingredients.

In this edition, renown vegan Chef, Zendy Marsam, was at the helm of the menu creation – as a reflection of her Indonesian heritage, but with a modern, international approach.

I was certainly intrigued!

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

As expected, lots of raw veggies to welcome us on arrival.

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City
weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City
weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

But I wasn’t impressed.

I mean, sure, I love fresh salad, and I did enjoy the creativity of the various dressings on offer, and the crunchiness was supremely fresh, but anyone can chop up veggies and lay them out on a long table.

Not even the two delicious healthy juices made me smile, and I must admit I was getting a little hungry – I hope there’s more to this vegan brunch?

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

The place was packed with happy, laughing, “alternative”-looking people, and I was probably the oldest and the grumpiest person there!

I do regret my attitude, though.

You see, Dubai Vegan Days has a loyal following, and groups of friends eagerly wait for the next installment, and then the news spreads quickly among the healthy community, and they all converge on the weekend not only for the meal but also for the human connection.

And then there was me, scraggly beard, overweight and hunched shoulders, among these youthful, and actually really healthy-looking people, who were scarfing down raw carrots and plain beans as if they were the best thing on earth.

Except, you see, it’s because they are “the best thing on Earth”…

The health benefits of a plant-based diet are inescapable.

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

Although intellectually I do detest the exploitation of animals, and the suffering our factory farms impose on them, and the sheer cruelty of raising animals from birth to death in horrible captive conditions, I was holding onto a feeble reasoning that it is all a necessity, as we do have to eat, and eating well is such a pleasure…

But Chef Zendy blew away even that line of defense.

She presented a set menu – yes, all plant-based – which was absolutely on-par with any delicious weekend brunch on offer in Dubai; and probably better than many of them!

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

Check this out.

You see this morsel?

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

It’s jackfruit.

Apparently, it is a large fruit grown in the tropics, from India to Indonesia.

Could have fooled me, because it has the texture of meat, and it absorbs and carries flavors like a good stew cube, and it is a ‘miracle’ food in terms of nutrition and low-impact environmental farming.

Here it is in tacos!

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

In all its glory – oh, I wish you could lick the screen and taste it! Just superb!

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

And served with delicious roasted potato wedges,

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

and a smashing mango- and chili-based salsa!

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

And it was accompanied by a black activated-charcoal burger,

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

filled with a beetroot patty!

As well as crispy crunchy delights, so as to contrast with the earthy beetroot patty,

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

and accompanied by a light and refreshing tomato sauce – a superlative homemade ketchup that will make you throw out the bottled stuff in disgust!

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

And then dessert waltzed up to our table, and crushed any remaining doubt that somehow a plant-based meal would be in any way lacking.

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

It is a fact that this vegan banquet did not come in second place to a meat brunch, not even in terms of deliciousness.

I enjoyed every bite.

And as I looked around, I absorbed the healthy vibes of the lovely people around me – from all walks of life, enjoying a wonderful weekend brunch together, and not missing for one instant that there were no animal products on their plates.

I did feel feel good about it. Even an old grump like me had to admit that there was a positive feeling that with this meal I had not contributed to a chicken being locked in a cage for all of its life, that no cow had gone through the slaughterhouse for me, and that no fish had been pulled out of water gasping until it died.

And there’s more to veganism than just my superficial experience at Rove – the negative impact of the animal food industry on our planet, for instance!

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City

And so as a reasonable person, it’s now down to convenience, and habit.

All our supermarkets and restaurant menus are packed with meat products, capitalizing on our eating habits and laziness in seeking out wholesome alternatives.

One day, I think eating animals will be the exception, and I must say what a happy day that will be for all living beings.

weekenduae Dubai Vegan Days brunch by Chef Zendy Marsam at Rove Hotel Healthcare City
The Daily - Rove Healthcare City Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

SPA Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort in Abu Dhabi

An idyllic and peaceful setting by the gentle Gulf waters on Saadiyat Island, SPA Jumeirah is a modern and specialized full-care beauty and rejuvenation center – the UAE’s top-most destination for personal pampering!

And as you enter this oasis of calm, you know you have entered a universe of luxurious well-being.

Basically, you feel you have been transported into another galaxy, where the laws of gravity don’t apply, and you float around powered by contented sighs and happy gurgles of delight.

Yes, the experience is so powerful…

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

Everything has been perfectly prepared for you.

It is clear that SPA Jumeirah is at the top of its game, and second to none not only in UAE, but even on a world scale.

If spas were given a star ranking system like hotels, here you’d be at six!

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

Just look at the details.

And a reminder that these are our photos taken on location (as always), not the artificially posed pics of marketing brochures – no, this is the real thing, as it was.

SPA Jumeirah is a labyrinth of rooms, each one more special than the other, and each serving its own purpose. You may choose from an amazing selection of treatments and products.

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

An incredible variety of pre- or post- treatment rooms, with tender warm lights, ice, salts, scents, plunge pools, terrariums, and so many more that I confess were beyond my ability to understand – but I’ll be back! Many more times! And I will try them all and find out exactly what magic they each do!!

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

Fortunately the kind staff will guide you.

Even they were so relaxed, as if working in such beautifying environment had transformed them into enlightened monks and yoginis – totally professional, and so talented at what they do.

Their treatments are personalized, and their expertise is deep, such that you feel certain that you are in good hands.

And they even seem able to read your mind…

The highlight for me was this room:

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

And after your treatment, there’s no rush. You’ll need some time to come back down from that galaxy of pure bliss.

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

Take it easy.

Hang around a bit.

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

Have some refreshments.

Take your time.

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

Browse the products that you’ll want to take with you.

In fact, many of the treatments continue at home.

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

And when you feel ready, you float out, back into the real world.

But I promise you, the moment you set foot outside, your body will try to turn around and head directly back inside!

Such was the pleasure felt at SPA Jumeirah.

Never mind… you’ll soon be back, I’m sure.

weekenduae SPA Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

Shake Shack at The Galleria, Abu Dhabi

Shopping at The Galleria on Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi is an experience into itself – a destination worthy of the UAE’s capital city and a testament to this vibrant urban center.

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

And if that weren’t enough… it has expanded!

Besides the high fashion brand-names and astounding architecture, there’s something that is never missing on an adventurous shopping expedition: a quick place to grab a bite to eat!

Got to re-fuel, so’s that the search for the perfect [insert favorite outfit / handbag / jewelry / perfume / make-up / suit / shoes / mustache wax…] can continue.

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

Tucked away deep into The Galleria Expansion, but eagerly hunted down for its juicy burgers and creamy shakes, is the trendy Shake Shack.

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

Yeah, it’s a fast-food joint – so what?

In fact, it fits in perfectly…

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

And it was born in Madison Square Park, in Manhattan, New York, so this is home for Shake Shack, and exactly where it belongs – because you may shop brand-names for clothes, and then go for a brand-name burger, too!

In fact, Shake Shack is famous not only for its burgers – and here is what caught my fancy the most:

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

A superb hot dog!

This is the Gucci of hot dogs!

This dog is 100% all-natural Vienna beef with no hormones and no antibiotics ever, served on a non-GMO Martin’s Potato Roll, and fancied up with delicious crisps of halal bacon, then smothered in the creamiest cheese ever – it was truly a delight!

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

Just look at those crispy bits!

I will not hesitate to say this is the most delicious hot dog I have tried in 20 years of visiting Abu Dhabi.

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

The menu plays a similar tune.

The burger patties are freshly ground and 100% all-natural Angus beef – no hormones or antibiotics ever – and the chicken all-natural cage free.

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

And the meals have you covered for a quick snack, or a full-on lunch.

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

Desserts, lemonades, and shakes, just go find out for yourself…

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi

Overall, for a shopping intermission at The Galleria, when the hunger calls for a break, make your way over to the expansion and let Shake Shack take care of you for a while.

weekenduae Shake Shack Galleria Abu Dhabi
Shake Shack, The Galleria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato