Ah, the glorious Dubai feast that is the Friday – or the slightly rarer beast, Saturday – brunch. Here are some fresh-to-the-city options for those of you tired of the old classics.
Lucky Voice: Friday 12pm to 4pm
The Lucky brunch has hit the high notes when it comes to making its mark on the brunch scene. Booking up weeks in advance this Karaoke- themed brunch is sure to get everyone on their feet. The food is brought to the table as you ask for it and designed to be shared. Bites include edamame, nachos, sliders and pizza, and there’s more than enough to go round. It’s all about the fun element, with inflatable props, make your own drinks, trays of shots and a lip-sync battle for the budding Mariah Carey’s. And for those that just can’t get enough, they’ve got a new Wednesday night brunch too
Great for: Big groups who love a sing-song. For the best time book a private Karaoke booth after brunch and sing your heart out.
Best bit: It’s really interactive, from the lip-sync battle on stage to the mix-your-own drinks, it’s great for getting stuck in.
Worst bit: The music is loud from the get-go, and can be a bit overwhelming for 1pm on a Friday.
Level 6, Grand Millenium, Barsha Heights, Fri 1pm to 4pm, Dhs195 soft, Dhs295 house. Tel:800 58259. Taxi: Tecom. luckyvoice.ae
Bazxar: Friday 1pm to 4pm
With a theme of the Roaring Twenties, this Great Gatsby-inspired Friday brunch starts with an unlimited supply of starters and entrées that include shrimp popcorn, mac and cheese, and burrata pizza. Then select one main from a list that includes wagyu cheeseburgers, buttermilk fried chicken burgers and mushroom linguini. To end, there’s a dessert platter. It’s not really a brunch for those looking for high-end dining, but on the plus side, there’s a post-brunch ‘Happier Hour’, offering two for one on selected drinks until 8pm.
Great for: Fans of American diner food.
Best bit: The Get Your Freakshake On dessert with pretzels, crunchy KitKat and Nutella ice cream is comfort food at its best.
Worst bit: For some seasoned brunchers the dishes, although good, might be a bit too casual dining.
Gate Precinct Building 4, DIFC, Dubai, Fri 1pm to 4pm, Dhs295 with soft drinks, Dhs395 with house drinks, Dhs495 with sparkling rosé wine. Tel: (04) 3551111. Metro: DIFC. bazxar.com
Miss Lily’s: Friday 12pm-5pm
This five-hour Caribbean brunch is a welcome addition to the scene. There’s a great balance of A La Carte food, a wide selection of drinks and a party vibe that builds up through the afternoon. For a slightly more chilled vibe, ask for a restaurant seat as the bar area is where the party is at. The food keeps true to the high A La Carte standard, and each guest picks a starter, main and side, with a dessert platter served at the end. There’s a great selection for mains, with breakfast favourites (jerk chicken and waffles is a must), rotis, salads and sandwiches all on offer. The unlimited cocktails prove popular with us, and jugs of Passion Lymin’ and Dutty Wine go down a treat.
Great for: Those looking for good food and a great time.
Best bit: The food is true to the quirky A La Carte menu, and quality isn’t compromised just because it’s brunch
Worst bit: The service can be a bit slow to start, so order your drink early to kick things off.
5th Floor, Sheraton Grand, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dhs250 soft, Dhs390 house. Tel: (04) 356 2900. Metro: Trade Centre. misslilys.com
Copperdog: Friday and Saturday 1pm to 4pm
Copperdog has just launched four brand new brunches across the weekend, and it’s a pub-foodie feast. The sharing brunch is designed for two, and includes a sharing platter from a good selection of hearty meat, surf and turf or veggie platters plus a beverage package (Dhs250 per person). There’s also a Friday breakfast brunch (Dhs275) and Saturday roast brunch option too (Dhs275). And for those who are only there for the drinks, there’s a “drunch” option for Dhs175. Staff are friendly and service is fast which makes a big difference, plus they’re expertly versed in the menu- so be sure to get some advice from them.
Great for: People who can’t decide what kind of “bruncher” they are.
Best bit: The food is consistently good, and the live music that kicks in at the end makes it well worth staying on for.
Worst bit: The afternoon playlist is a bit low-tempo, and the atmosphere only picks up a little later in the afternoon.
Doubletree by Hilton, JBR, Fri and Sat, 12:30pm to 4pm, Dhs175 to Dhs275. Tel: (04) 5595 355. Taxi: JBR. copperdog.ae
Play: Friday 12pm to 4pm
We LOVE the food at Play – the elegant restaurant run by What’s On Awards chef of the year Reif Othman is an intelligent ‘play’ on the flavours of East Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The brunch here feels like the kind of party a millennial Gatsby would throw – there are performers (only occasionally, so you won’t always be interrupted), a great lounge singer and plenty of beautiful people milling about. This is definitely one to put your ‘Friday best’ on for. Food wise you’ll be served multiple little dishes – no soggy buffets here. The items served change all of the time – but when we went the sushi was perfection, we asked for seconds (well, thirds) of the crispy duck salad and the ‘mushroom pot’ was a glutinous bowl of umami goodness.
Great for: Special occasions – the food is excellent and the crowds are glamorous.
Best bit: The food and the singer (brunch entertainment isn’t usually that great – but the the man that turned up to sing an Adele rendition when we were there had truly world class pipes).
Worst bit: The brunch is quite performative and glitzy – it’s definitely an ‘experience’ – so not one to visit when you’re in the mood for a chilled meal with mates.
The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Friday 12pm to 4pm, Dhs340 non alcoholic, Dhs440 with house drinks. Tel: (04) 336 4444. More info on website.
Morah: 12pm to 4pm
The pastel-hued Morah dining room looks particularly elegant during the day – and there are far worse places to spend a Friday afternoon than on the 71st floor of the JW Marriott Marquis, sipping interesting cocktails and eating Turkish eggs. The brunch is a buffet/a la carte hybrid, and the food is excellent. From Turkish manti dumplings to fried chicken with za’atar and quail egg shakshouka, the dishes are far more interesting than your average brunch fare. The cocktails are pretty fancy too (and come as part of the Dhs350 house beverage package). One caveat – there’s a DJ at this brunch, and they play the music loudly (which feels somewhat disparate to the dining room and the elegant food), so if you’re after deep and meaningfuls with mates, either try somewhere else or ask to sit in the downstairs portion of the restaurant.
Great for: A party vibe with city views and top-notch food.
Best bit: When the belly dancer comes out – she’s amazing, and it’s infectious.
Worst bit: The levels of the music – we usually don’t like a side of blaring EDM with our Turkish eggs (but this is subjective, and some people will love the buzz it lends).
JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, Dubai, 12pm to 4pm, Friday, Dhs250 non-alcoholic, Dhs350 with house beverages, Dhs450 with bubbly. Tel: (04) 560 1799. More info on website.
Okku: Friday 12.30pm to 4pm
It’s one of the best Japanese restaurants in Dubai, and Okku’s new Friday brunch offering takes things to the next level. Start with a cocktail in the bar, helping yourself to fresh crab and shucked oysters as a tank full of neon jellyfish dance before your eyes. You’ll then be whisked down to the dining area, and served a beautiful platter of sushi. From here, you can choose from the menu of unlimited small plates, which include chicken karaage, seaweed salad, gyoza, calamari and (our favourite) ginger salmon sashimi. It’s tempting to fill up on these, but be sure to save room, because each diner then gets one choice from the large plates menu – we recommend the melt-in-your-mouth dynamite kani, a whole king crab leg coated in spicy mayonnaise. To finish, there’s a decadent platter of desserts to choose from, including green tea tiramisu, a Fuji apple tart, and chocolate brownies.
Great for: Big groups are best for sharing the dishes, Japanese-style, though we dined as a duo and still had no trouble getting through the menu.
Best bit: The atmosphere. The masterful DJ went from strength to strength with his 80s playlist, culminating in a restaurant-wide singalong of A-ha’s Take On Me. Glorious.
Worst bit: We were the last ones to be seated, which made for a slightly awkward wait in the bar area, worrying we were missing out on valuable brunching time.
The H Hotel Dubai, One Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Fri 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs299 with soft drinks, Dhs399 with wines and spirits, Dhs449 for sparkling and cocktails. Children under 7 dine free, under 12 dine half price. Tel: (04) 501 8777. Metro: World Trade Centre. okku.com
Barasti: Saturday 2pm to 5pm
The Lost World of Barasti, the jungle-themed, covered pop-up at this iconic beach bar has come with a ‘Wild Thing’ Saturday. It’s an inclusive offering of jungle fun in a tropical setting with plenty of hearty food alongside live music. The food is a help-yourself, social affair with food stations across the “jungalow” that include sliders, pie, curly fries and even a roast dinner. The open-bar includes an impressively wide selection of wines, sparkling, cocktails and spirits and service is friendly and fast, meaning you’re never without a drink. The live band covers nostalgic pop-rock hits that get people singing along, meaning you’re not quite ready to go home come 5pm. So conveniently, happy hour prices on selected drinks are available between 5pm-8pm.
Great for: A chilled Saturday with friends, when you know you’ve got work tomorrow.
Best bit: It’s a casual, laid-back affair with plenty of food and drink, and it’s great value for money too.
Worst bit: The food is a bit carb-heavy, but for a Saturday afternoon treat, it’s a welcome feast.
Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach resort & Marina, Dubai Marina, Sat 2pm to 5pm, Dhs175 ladies, Dhs250 gents. Tel: (04) 318 1313. Tram: Mina Seyahi. barastibeach.com
La Cantine du Faubourg: Saturday 12pm to 4pm
La Cantine du Faubourg has brought Parisian food to the medium of long, lazy, Gallic lunches. French spécialités include croissants and pains au chocolat, specialty breads, waffles, crêpes, homemade jams, a diverse selection of eggs, croque-monsieur, burrata and asparagus risotto. Now the weather’s cooler, the best place to sit is outdoors on the stunning garden terrace for this classy slice of French lunch living.
Great for: Long civilised lunches focused on all-you-can-talk rather than all-you-can-eat-and-drink.
Best bit: The standard of food is excellent and the pergola setting is lovely.
Worst bit: A lot of the best dishes are breakfast food so it would have been nice to start a bit earlier.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai, Sat noon to 4pm, Dhs250 with soft drinks, Dhs380 with house drinks and Dhs495 with champagne. Tel: (04) 3527105. Metro: Emirates Towers. lacantine.ae
Zero Gravity: Saturday 12pm to 5pm
Zero Gravity’s Saturday Beach brunch hits the pool every Saturday afternoon. The drinks selection is varied and a selection of wine, beer, spirits and cocktails are served from bars and stations across the grounds which adds a fun, interactive touch. Service is impressive considering the volume of guests and nothing is too much trouble. The food is served buffet style and includes everything from burgers and fries to curry and rice. There’s a salad, sushi and fruit bar too, for those wishing for something a little lighter.
Great for: A great party and equally great value for money.
Best bit: It’s a tough one, the great selection of drinks and attentive service are both winners.
Worst bit: There isn’t loads of seating inside, and eating in the scorching heat can be a bit uncomfortable
Zero Gravity, Sky Dive Dubai, Dubai Marina. Sat 12pm-5pm, Dhs199 ladies, Dhs249 gents Tel:04 399 0009. More info on website