On Valentine's Day this year, Mr. T and I ended up going to a zoo. Granted, it's not quite the spot for a romantic rendezvous, but with an 18-month-old toddler calling the shots, and with 'Valentine frenzy' peaking at most hotels and restaurants, the zoo seemed like a serene option.
One of the unexpected outcomes of the long drive to the Al Ain Zoo, however, was winning a radio contest on the 87.9 Abu Dhabi Classic FM. The prize: dinner brunch for two at Positano, the Italian restaurant at the JW Marriott Marquis.
The dinner brunch is only on a Sunday, and we finally ended up redeeming our prize yesterday. The staff was genial and friendly, the restaurant felt spacious and welcoming, the vibe was good. I'd sneaked a peek at a few reviews before we left and they all seemed glowing. I couldn't wait to find out for myself.
The manager requested us to wait at the bar while they set up our table near the window. As we took in the views of the place, I sipped some fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon from Puglia. We didn't have to wait long before the manager appeared again, offering us a 'tour of the buffet' which turned out to be as extensive as the winding roads on the Amalfi coast.
There was a table groaning with pretty appetisers, and a ham section, followed by a cheese section, which led to the pizza counter, which was next to the pasta counter, which was followed by the seafood and the meats... The dessert buffet involved another delightful trek.
Wanting to pace myself so as to enjoy the entire spread, I nibbled a bit of everything. The aubergine parmigiana that had to be scooped out of a tiny cup was spectacular as was the bruschetta made with black bread. The burrata simply melted and slid down my throat without much effort. Mr. T focussed on doing justice to the seafood and especially the Parma ham and Napoli sausage. The cheery staff at the pizza counter encouraged us to go for a split pizza - so we tried the Buffalota and Positano special. The crust was light and crisp and the buffalo mozzarella the best I've ever eaten. I tried the ricotta and spinach stuffed ravioli in a roasted tomato and basil sauce. I found the ravioli a bit too doughy and dry at the edges, but the sauce was incredibly flavorful.
The dessert counter was immorally large. There's no way that one could wade through all the above mentioned counters and still have space for the spread, but I did my best. The tiramisu was good but the superlatives belonged to the cheesecake. Another favorite was the airy lemon sponge cake. And the espresso mousse. And macarons. And did I mention the gelato?
We staggered out content with the experience. We're definitely going to be back for more.