Reviews

Urban Picnic at Vida Downtown.

Fancy a picnic in a Cabana sans the sweat and strain of cooking up a basket? Some live guitar, a pool to plunge in and a warm blanket to cuddle in? Enter, the Urban Picnic Brunch on Fridays at the Vida Downtown.

People like me are easy to find. We love to relax in the weekends with some fine food and zero (yes, zero) effort. Which is why the concept of Urban Picnic rings a bell with most. Dress up in your shorts and carry your swimsuits. Load your picnic basket with a whole lot of sandwiches, salads and pizzas and head out to your outdoor table or cabana by the swimming pool and make it your lovely Friday picnic out in the sun! Sounds about perfect, doesn’t it?

We were definitely not one of the firsts to arrive. The restaurant, the pool side and the cabanas were already bustling with people picking up their cheeses and clinging their glasses. Our toddler was in one her “off-moods”, hence the wicker baskets and blankets kept at the entrance had to be skipped. A walk around the buffet counters gave us 3 realizations:

  1. It is inexcusable to be late for Friday brunches.
  2. There is no way on earth we were going to get a taste of ALL the dishes in the spread.
  3. We NEED to start PRONTO!

Starters in jars were aplenty. These consisted of Tomato Mozzarella, Greek salad, egg noodle salad, blue cheese & chicken salad, and creative ones like Quinoa tabbouleh, sesame slaw, marinated artichoke with tuna, apple pecan salad and shrimps ceviche.

The platters served starters like assorted antipasti, beetroot & orange salad, three-bean salad and smoked trout with endives. The deviled eggs magically kept falling into my egg-loving husband’s plate (sigh!) while I kept going back for the Feta cheese & watermelon salad and the Chick peas with avocado, tomato & coriander salad. Oh oh, and the lovely smoked duck, spinach & blue cheese salad! Now who would have thought a carnivore like me would be spending so much time at the salad bar?!

The cheese spread was big. No, make it huge. It reminded me of their spread at theWednesdays Wine & Cheese night. A blazing pizza oven meant fresh, hot pizzas. There were beef, chicken & mushrooms and margaritas, but the one that tickled my curiosity was the peanut butter & strawberry jam pizza. A slice was promptly taken that caused my husband to arch his eyebrows as if “Is that even a pizza?”, but thankfully no level of intimidation works on a food lover.

My next stop was the sandwich counter. Everything looked fabulous and ready to be picked up for the picnic basket. But what concerned me were the sizes/ portions. There were so many kinds I wanted to try and get a taste of. Unfortunately, the sandwiches were not bite-sized. Fearing wastage (which maybe silly to fret over for a Friday brunch in Dubai), I skipped taking some tempting-looking ones.

The Urban Picnic brunch goes meaty on the mains. Once you gave the nod to your server, the platter of mains would be brought to your table. Being a set-platter, you get your hands on all the items, namely, Marinated chicken skewers served with roasted potatoes and Seafood boil with Alaskan crab slaw, clams, mussels, shrimps, seafood sausage, corn & red potato from the Chef’s Basket. From the Grill, you get to try the Grilled lamb chops served with lentils du puy & parsnip, Grilled US beef tenderloin served with mash potato, asparagus, mushroom skewer & pepper sauce and a Rib eye steak with roasted vegetables.

The mains platter was heavy to say the least, though a tad too dry for my taste. Gravy was lacking but there was a nice pepper sauce to drench your steak in. The chicken in skewers could have been a little less chewy. The seafood boil was served bland along with rich lemon butter sauce – which would work fine with those who like their seafood in natural flavors. The lamb chops were beautifully grilled, the rib eye was a treat with the buttery mash. What I would’ve liked better – mushrooms with more flavors, tenderloin with more herbs and a main dish with some rice and a good gravy.

Fancy a picnic in a Cabana sans the sweat and strain of cooking up a basket? Some live guitar, a pool to plunge in and a warm blanket to cuddle in? Enter, the Urban Picnic Brunch on Fridays at the Vida Downtown.

People like me are easy to find. We love to relax in the weekends with some fine food and zero (yes, zero) effort. Which is why the concept of Urban Picnic rings a bell with most. Dress up in your shorts and carry your swimsuits. Load your picnic basket with a whole lot of sandwiches, salads and pizzas and head out to your outdoor table or cabana by the swimming pool and make it your lovely Friday picnic out in the sun! Sounds about perfect, doesn’t it?

Vida Downtown definitely knew their drinks & desserts. In lovely glass dispensers set amidst wild flowers, sat their signature cocktail ‘Summer Berry’. Of equal taste and splendor was the Passion peach Ice tea and the Pomegranate Ice tea. Walking over to the dessert counter, I had to brace myself. The cakes & pastry chefs in the kitchen can smile in pride. Pineapple upside down cake, Apple flan, Summer berries tart, Scone tart, Cranberry upside down cake, Cinnamon Apple tart, Hazelnut basque tart and a zillion other cakes & tarts gorgeously decorated the counter. The bread butter pudding looked seductively caramelized and the Grass hopper looked curious. Berries & chocolates were ready on sticks for the fondue while a world of sweet delights awaited in jars. Lemon posse, fruit jellies, mango pannacotta, chocolate pots, passion mango salsa, ice chocolate shooters, Oh just don’t ask!! I brought myself to taste as much as humanely possible and my favorites turned out to be the Bread butter pudding and the passion mango salsa. Totally slurp-worthy.

We were definitely not one of the firsts to arrive. The restaurant, the pool side and the cabanas were already bustling with people picking up their cheeses and clinging their glasses. Our toddler was in one her “off-moods”, hence the wicker baskets and blankets kept at the entrance had to be skipped. A walk around the buffet counters gave us 3 realizations:

  1. It is inexcusable to be late for Friday brunches.
  2. There is no way on earth we were going to get a taste of ALL the dishes in the spread.
  3. We NEED to start PRONTO!

Starters in jars were aplenty. These consisted of Tomato Mozzarella, Greek salad, egg noodle salad, blue cheese & chicken salad, and creative ones like Quinoa tabbouleh, sesame slaw, marinated artichoke with tuna, apple pecan salad and shrimps ceviche.

The platters served starters like assorted antipasti, beetroot & orange salad, three-bean salad and smoked trout with endives. The deviled eggs magically kept falling into my egg-loving husband’s plate (sigh!) while I kept going back for the Feta cheese & watermelon salad and the Chick peas with avocado, tomato & coriander salad. Oh oh, and the lovely smoked duck, spinach & blue cheese salad! Now who would have thought a carnivore like me would be spending so much time at the salad bar?!

Needless to say, Vida Downtown had class. The cutleries, the food, the service and the ambience- all screamed it. My personal opinion on the Friday Urban Picnic brunch would be to reduce the portion sizes (especially the sandwiches and desserts) which would enable “I-Must-Try-It-All” fanatics like myself to satisfy our ego without the danger of much food wastage. Also, while the cheeses are lovely, if half the table can be shared by a different cuisine like say, sushis, dimsums, chicken wings or kebabs that would have been an additional dimension explored too. At the risk of sounding nit-picky, my last two pence would be to bring in some gravy and some rice to the mains menu. Ah! There. Said it all.

Having said all that, the Urban Picnic is a lovely concept that you can enjoy with your kids in tow. While they busy themselves with loading their picnic baskets, you get to relax indoors or by the pool in their inviting cabanas (at an additional AED 100 per person), in the company of live music and great food.

The cheese spread was big. No, make it huge. It reminded me of their spread at theWednesdays Wine & Cheese night. A blazing pizza oven meant fresh, hot pizzas. There were beef, chicken & mushrooms and margaritas, but the one that tickled my curiosity was the peanut butter & strawberry jam pizza. A slice was promptly taken that caused my husband to arch his eyebrows as if “Is that even a pizza?”, but thankfully no level of intimidation works on a food lover.

A Pricing Story:
Package 1. Brunch including unlimited soft drinks & juices: Aed 225.
Package 2. Brunch incl. unlimited selected house beverages: Aed 295.
Cabana seating: additional Aed 100 per person.
Friday Urban Picnic Brunch at Vida Downtown. Served at 3in1 from 1pm – 5pm.

My next stop was the sandwich counter. Everything looked fabulous and ready to be picked up for the picnic basket. But what concerned me were the sizes/ portions. There were so many kinds I wanted to try and get a taste of. Unfortunately, the sandwiches were not bite-sized. Fearing wastage (which maybe silly to fret over for a Friday brunch in Dubai), I skipped taking some tempting-looking ones.

The Urban Picnic brunch goes meaty on the mains. Once you gave the nod to your server, the platter of mains would be brought to your table. Being a set-platter, you get your hands on all the items, namely, Marinated chicken skewers served with roasted potatoes and Seafood boil with Alaskan crab slaw, clams, mussels, shrimps, seafood sausage, corn & red potato from the Chef’s Basket. From the Grill, you get to try the Grilled lamb chops served with lentils du puy & parsnip, Grilled US beef tenderloin served with mash potato, asparagus, mushroom skewer & pepper sauce and a Rib eye steak with roasted vegetables.

The mains platter was heavy to say the least, though a tad too dry for my taste. Gravy was lacking but there was a nice pepper sauce to drench your steak in. The chicken in skewers could have been a little less chewy. The seafood boil was served bland along with rich lemon butter sauce – which would work fine with those who like their seafood in natural flavors. The lamb chops were beautifully grilled, the rib eye was a treat with the buttery mash. What I would’ve liked better – mushrooms with more flavors, tenderloin with more herbs and a main dish with some rice and a good gravy.

Vida Downtown definitely knew their drinks & desserts. In lovely glass dispensers set amidst wild flowers, sat their signature cocktail ‘Summer Berry’. Of equal taste and splendor was the Passion peach Ice tea and the Pomegranate Ice tea. Walking over to the dessert counter, I had to brace myself. The cakes & pastry chefs in the kitchen can smile in pride. Pineapple upside down cake, Apple flan, Summer berries tart, Scone tart, Cranberry upside down cake, Cinnamon Apple tart, Hazelnut basque tart and a zillion other cakes & tarts gorgeously decorated the counter. The bread butter pudding looked seductively caramelized and the Grass hopper looked curious. Berries & chocolates were ready on sticks for the fondue while a world of sweet delights awaited in jars. Lemon posse, fruit jellies, mango pannacotta, chocolate pots, passion mango salsa, ice chocolate shooters, Oh just don’t ask!! I brought myself to taste as much as humanely possible and my favorites turned out to be the Bread butter pudding and the passion mango salsa. Totally slurp-worthy.

Needless to say, Vida Downtown had class. The cutleries, the food, the service and the ambience- all screamed it. My personal opinion on the Friday Urban Picnic brunch would be to reduce the portion sizes (especially the sandwiches and desserts) which would enable “I-Must-Try-It-All” fanatics like myself to satisfy our ego without the danger of much food wastage. Also, while the cheeses are lovely, if half the table can be shared by a different cuisine like say, sushis, dimsums, chicken wings or kebabs that would have been an additional dimension explored too. At the risk of sounding nit-picky, my last two pence would be to bring in some gravy and some rice to the mains menu. Ah! There. Said it all.

Having said all that, the Urban Picnic is a lovely concept that you can enjoy with your kids in tow. While they busy themselves with loading their picnic baskets, you get to relax indoors or by the pool in their inviting cabanas (at an additional AED 100 per person), in the company of live music and great food.

A Pricing Story:
Package 1. Brunch including unlimited soft drinks & juices: Aed 225.
Package 2. Brunch incl. unlimited selected house beverages: Aed 295.
Cabana seating: additional Aed 100 per person.
Friday Urban Picnic Brunch at Vida Downtown. Served at 3in1 from 1pm – 5pm.

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