FACT’s Asad Khan takes the ferry ride to Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara to try its Chillout Brunch at Azraq, featuring favourites from every corner of the Earth.

For me, the weekend can only mean one of two things: a wholesome breakfast on a terrace with my favourite classic Jane Eyre or a fun brunch that is late enough to allow me an extended lie-in, but early enough that the day still stretches ahead of me. But it’s officially autumn now here in Doha, which means it’s time to embrace the sidewalk patio tables and everything sunlight without really being afraid of getting baked in the heat.

And what better vehicle for the aforementioned vibes than a brunch on an island, surrounded by the lush blue water. So, when Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara introduced its Chillout Brunch at Azraq, I couldn’t but take the 25-minute ferry to the island to treat myself with one of the best destination brunches around town.

Arriving for the feast, before I was led up to the dining room, I was welcomed with fresh watermelon juice. Soaring windows flooded the space of the restaurant with natural light. This was a place perfect for large families and groups. The most delicious ensemble of stations was found at Azraq. Seemingly it had favourites from every corner of the world: pad Thai, pasta, pizza, burgers, Indian curries, kebabs, grilled meats and even sushi and crabs.

I started my brunch with a combination of cold mezze from Al Nahham: a little of Fattoush, Beetroot Moutabel, hummus and Baba Ghanoush on the side. The right amount of pomegranate and olive oil drizzled with zesty lime vinaigrette in the Fattoush really took me by surprise at how much I had missed it for the previous few weeks. Similarly, the hummus was rich in texture and nutty in taste and the Baba Ghanoush was bursting with the intense smoky scent of pulpy eggplant flesh, which was nothing but utterly lip-smacking and delicious. This was the moment I knew today had taken a delicious turn, even for a few hours.

Now the heavy-duty mains: started with spicy pepperoni and Margherita pizza from the Italian food station, Riva. While, of course, it’s hard to beat the Neapolitan classics in a foreign land, this is as close to the classic pizza as you’re likely to get in this part of the world: thin crust, flavourful sauce and a fresh topping of mozzarella and pepperoni. I could see the chef tossing pizza dough into the oven.

Soon came pasta galore. The station offered Creamy Garlic Penne and Arrabiata with choices of toppings and spice levels. The Arrabiata had a very tomatoey flavour, as opposed to traditional marinara sauce, and one can credit that to the simplicity of its preparation that only includes tomato juice, water and pulpy tomatoes. Pro tip: don’t forget to ask for some freshly grated parmesan, basil and some chilli pepper. It’ll enhance the taste to the core.

What followed the pasta, before I headed to everything grilled and kebabs, was the pad Thai from the Asian station. I am a sucker for it. I know it’s expected but I can’t seem to bypass it on a menu. And so, I ordered one. What I loved about it: lots of greens, tamarind-heavy sauce, roasted peanuts and crispy fried chicken. I could indulge in pad Thai all day, but, in the interests of research, it was onto the chargrilled kebabs of Al Nahham: chicken, lamb and shish taouk. Served with red-onion salad, a squeeze of lemon, chargrilled green chillis and tomatoes. Everything tender and juicy. I could taste the distinct condiments used in the marination of the meat as it melted in my mouth. The smoked paprika and ginger gave the kebabs a kick, a zesty element of freshness.

The brunch also had an assortment of choices for seafood lovers: from tuna to octopus, prawns and mussels.

There’s something for everyone, while for the finale, you can choose from a wide assortment of Oriental and western sweets. Furthermore, children can also enjoy a range of activities and events here, specially designed for them, along with the selection of kids’ meals to ensure a unique and distinctive experience for all family members. ✤