Best brunch in Abu Dhabi - Cipriani

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Friday brunch may be my favourite meal of the week. It has to be a Friday; no other day in the week affords you the luxury of taking your time over a leisurely meal, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by good friends and conversation. I'm always on the look out for new places to try out for this most important of weekly rituals, and I can't believe it has taken me this long to head to

on Yas Island to partake in what has become their "famous" brunch.

Once upon a time, there were rumours that their brunch was only Dh150 per person, and I KICK myself for not visiting back when the price was so reasonable. According to the kind lady who answered the phone when I made the reservation, their brunch - a set menu - has now been increased to Dh250. The cheaper one has been relegated to the past.

It's not the buffet you've come to expect of brunches in the UAE; instead, Cipriani is an a la carte type restaurant. You have the option of selecting their set menu of three courses and a drink for your brunch option, or you can just order whatever items you like from their menu. If you go the set menu route, which is what I did, it's Dh250; you've been warned!

I think it was completely worth every dirham. For the first course, you have a choice of herb-fried oysters with a béarnaise sauce, or a baby spinach salad with walnuts, beef bacon bites, crumbled ricotta, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. I went for the spinach salad, and alas, I have no picture to show you because it was so unbelievably good that I devoured the entire thing before documenting it even occurred to me. Fresh, full of flavour and a decent portion, it set the stage for an excellent meal.

There are three choices for the second course: eggs benedict, baked veal cannelloni or a sirloin steak. I chose the Eggs Benedict, which I think is the best I've ever had, two perfectly poached eggs served on pan-friend turkey ham on light brioche-like croissants and a rich Hollandaise sauce flecked with chives. The home fries that came on the side were incredible.

My husband had the cannelloni and it was delicious, I had to hold myself back from devouring his plate in addition to my own.

Our companions ordered a variety of different things from the menu and everything looked and tasted like my idea of perfection: the restaurant's side dishes of mashed potatoes, sauted spinach and parmesan, grilled vegetables and roasted mushrooms were honestly divine. Their burger? Epic. The grilled chicken? Succulent.

Our third course was a selection of Cipriani's cakes and desserts, accompanied by both a fruit platter and cheese platter. It was like I had died and gone to heaven.

I can't wait to go back and try everything on that menu. I'm pretty sure it's not just my pregnancy hormones exaggerating the quality of the place: the six other people I was with were just as impressed. Plus the ambiance: live music, beautiful views over the Yas Viceroy's marina, lush surroundings were all conducive to an excellent start to our weekend.

There you have it: the winner of Abu Dhabi's Best Brunch award, according to me anyway, goes to

, hands down. If you are interested, don't wait to try: Cipriani's closes for the summer on June 30. It will reopen October 1.

Any recommendations where I should go next, when it's time for Friday brunch?