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…
Vida Downtown: Friday 1pm to 5pm
A weekend picnic is a very British tradition – but did you know it’s one you can experience right in the heart of Dubai, at Vida Downtown’s urban picnic brunch? Guests are handed a picnic basket to fill with goodies from the London-themed “market”, such as freshly baked scones, breads, salads and cheeses. Once you’ve selected your perfect picnic spot on the terrace (or you can even nab yourself a cabana by the pool), you’ll be served up your main courses in a huge boat that stretches across the table, with hearty British classics like fish ‘n’ chips and hearty roasts on the menu. Just don’t forget to leave room for the sticky toffee pudding…
Great for: A chilled out afternoon in a lovely setting.
Best bit: Getting to help yourself to your own bottles of grape to pop in your picnic basket.
Worst bit: Some food is too messy to carry in the basket, which means a bit of back-and-forth.
Vida Downtown, Downtown Dubai, Fri 1pm to 5pm, Dhs295 with soft drinks, Dhs345 with house drinks; an additional Dhs100 per guest for a poolside cabana. Tel: (04) 428 6888. Vida-hotels.com
Brasserie 2.0: Friday 1.30pm to 4.30pm
As far as hotel buffet brunches go, Brasserie 2.0 must be one of the most impressive. Opening out onto the lawn of Le Royal Meridien, it comes complete with 10 live cooking stations, a juice bar, and live band. On the day we visit, it’s still a little too hot to dine al fresco, but as the weather cools, there will be an outdoor grill serving up meat and seafood. Back inside, we’re still spoiled for choice. We start off with sushi, before piling our plates with dishes from the seafood spread. Lobster claws are the highlight, along with our speedily served scallops, cooked to order. Heading to the hot food, we’re tempted by a carvery coupled with international bites. The Beef Wellington with all the trimmings goes down just as well as pizza straight from the woodfire oven. Desserts are arguably the most impressive. There’s a kaleidescope of coloured sweet treats, a cake counter and chocolate fountain, but it’s a peach mousse and rainbow cake we can’t keep away from. This is definitely a fun brunch with more than enough to keep you busy.
Great for: A fancy family afternoon out.
Best bit: The food selection – there’s so much to get through, you’re truly spoiled for choice.
Worst bit: Worrying you’ll never fit in your jeans again.
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai. Friday 1.30pm to 4.30pm, Dhs400 with soft drinks, Dhs525 with selected beverages and sparkling. Tel: (04) 316 5550. leroyalmeridien-dubai.com.
Ramusake: Friday 1pm to 4pm
Most famed for its packed-out ladies’ night, Ramusake has a reputation to live up to. But with their ‘Sake Sessions’ concept, Ramusake is spinning to a different crowd, with a daytime deep-house music policy paired with their ever-popular Japanese cuisine. Things kick off with a selection of starters to share. Edamame, deep fried pepper squid and the unconventional but delicious sweet potato fries fill the table almost immediately. Next come dumplings, followed by a chef’s selection of sushi. The food is plentiful, and our dishes for two could easily have been shared between three or four. Save room for mains though – the grilled beef rump and chicken yakitori are worth returning for alone. As the DJ takes to the decks, the vibe livens and sparklers begin to fly as big groups begin celebrating birthdays. After brunch, we migrate to the bar where those who were toe-tapping in the restaurant are now on their feet, and there’s no sign of the party stopping.
Great for: Great Japanese food served up in a lively atmosphere.
Best bit: It’s a great balance of food, drink and music.
Worst bit: The DJ doesn’t kick in until half way through the brunch.
DoubleTree by Hilton, JBR, 1pm to 4pm, house Dhs339. Tel: (04) 55 95 300. ramusake.ae
McGettigan’s JLT: Friday 12pm to 5pm
If it’s an authentic Irish experience you’re after, look no further than McGettigan’s. Their Friday brunch is a true Irish affair, in the basement of the Bonnington Hotel. We love that there’s an extensive buffet as well as a la carte options, and we come dangerously close to filling up on the breakfast dishes alone. The fluffy pancakes come out cold, which leaves us slightly disappointed, but a perfectly-cooked eggs benedict with just the right amount of hollandaise makes up for it. The buffet includes everything from sushi and oysters to a carvery complete with oversized Yorkshires and lashings of gravy. There’s a mix of live music by pop and folk band The Supernovas and musician Mike Ross, as well as a DJ who kicks in at 5pm as brunch finishes. It’s a lively atmosphere from start to finish, and although it’s a busy one, the staff take it all in their stride, meaning you’re never short of a drink.
Great for: Authentic Irish ‘craic’.
Best bit: The mix of buffet and a la carte food options. The breakfast dishes are a must-try.
Worst bit: The music keeps things authentic, but that might mean you won’t be able to sing along…
McGettigan’s JLT, Cluster J, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, 12pm to 5pm, Dhs249. Tel: (04) 378 0800. mcgettigans.com
Breeze: Friday 12.30pm to 4pm
There’s something about Breeze that makes us feel like we’re on holiday. Whether it’s the beachfront location, the floor-to-ceiling windows that look out to sea, or the whitewashed woods and nautical interiors, we like it a lot. Their new brunch, ‘Shackfest’, only adds to that feeling. Set up as separate shack-like stations, it’s an interactive offering of British-Mediterranean cuisine, coupled with props and inflatables made for the snap-happy. A salad bar sits comfortably alongside a sushi and ceviche station (which we go back for thirds, fourths and fifths of) and fish and meat curries are welcome next to vegetable skewers and a roast carvery. But be sure to save room for the sweet shack -it’s a display even Willy Wonka would be proud of, complete with red velvet cake, cheesecake, waffles, ice cream and a pick ‘n’ mix. There’s a wide drinks selection that includes various cocktail stations to help yourself to. As brunch finishes, a lively atmosphere entices everyone to the bar to carry on the fun.
Great for: Family friendly fun with something to suit everyone.
Best bit: The interactivity. There’s something to see, do or eat at every turn.
Worst bit: Head for the sushi early on, it looses it’s freshness as the day progresses.
Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs195 soft, Dhs395 house. Tel (04) 568 3000. More info on website
Dukes Dubai: Friday 1pm to 4pm
This new luxury hotel on The Palm plays host to a “Best Dressed Brunch”, with a free overnight stay awarded to the guest who makes the most effort with their attire. That might sound intimidating, but in true British spirit, it’s a jolly good show. Brunch takes place in the Great British Restaurant, located just off the hotel’s swanky lobby. There are heaps of dishes to choose from – everything from fish ‘n’ chips to curries – but we recommend sticking to the classic British roast with all the trimmings. Oh, and save as much room as you can for the pudding station. Keep it classy post-brunch by heading up to the Dukes bar – fun fact, the original Dukes bar in London was a favourite haunt of James Bond author Ian Fleming, and is said to be where he came up with his legendary “shaken, not stirred” line.
Great for: British expats wanting a taste of home.
Best bit: The puddings are glorious (especially the sticky toffee, mmm).
Worst bit: Stressing out in the taxi about whether you’re under- or over-dressed.
Dukes Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Dhs295 soft, Dhs395 house, Dhs445 sparkling, Dhs545 bubbly. Tel: (04) 455 1101. Dukesdubai.com.
We Brunch: Friday 1pm to 4pm
While the party brunch scene has been dominated by a select few over the last couple of years, We Brunch looks set to change that. Housed in Accents at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina, We Brunch is a go-hard-or-go-home brunch. The food is an international buffet, and a raw bar sits adjacent to a pizza station and a roast dinner spread. For a fully-booked brunch, service is fast, attentive and engaging, and alongside the help-yourself cocktail bar, our wine glasses are constantly topped up by the waiters. The atmosphere is great from the start, and DJ Andy Swift entertains the crowd in a way only a seasoned Dubai DJ knows how. A shots trolley covered in dry ice, sangria pitchers and Polaroid cameras add an interactive twist towards the end. And people tend to pour into the after-party downstairs come 4pm.
Great for: A Friday when you’re looking for a party hard atmosphere.
Best bit: The atmosphere (and drink selection).
Worst bit: As brunch finishes at 4pm, you’re ushered out pretty quickly to the bar downstairs, it feels rushed and doesn’t give you much time to finish your drink.
Accents, Intercontinental Dubai Marina, 1pm to 4pm, Dhs299 soft, Dhs350 house, Dhs399 sparkling. Tel: (056) 694 4538. webrunchdxb.com
Lucky Voice: Friday 12pm to 4pm
The Lucky Voice brunch has hit all the right notes since bursting onto 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 around. 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 Careys. And for those that just can’t get enough, they’ve also got a Wednesday night brunch.
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
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. 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
Morah: Friday 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, Dhs295 non-alcoholic, Dhs395 with house beverages, Dhs495 with bubbly. Tel: (04) 560 1799. morahdubai.com
Copperdog: Friday and Saturday 1pm to 4pm
Copperdog has launched four brand new brunches throughout the weekend, so there are plenty of opportunities for a pub-foodie feast. The sharing brunch is designed for two, and includes a sharing platter with 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 (Dhs275). And for those who are only there for the drinks, there’s a ‘drunch’ option (Dhs175). Staff are friendly and service is fast, plus they’re expertly versed in the menu – so be sure to take their advice.
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
Zero Gravity: Saturday 12pm to 5pm
This poolside party brunch has got the Saturday brunch scene in a spin. The drinks selection is varied, served from bars and stations throughout 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 also a salad, sushi and fruit bar, for those after something a little lighter. Expect a party-hard vibe by the pool, or those in recovery mode can head to the beach for more of a chilled afternoon. DJs take to the decks throughout the afternoon, and there’s one-off international artists planned on a monthly basis. All in all, it’s great value for money. Oh, and happy hour kicks in after brunch, for those who want to carry on the party (and most people do).
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: This one packs out, so you’re advised to head down early to bag the best beds.
Zero Gravity, Sky Dive Dubai, Dubai Marina. Sat 12pm-5pm, Dhs225 ladies, Dhs275 gents Tel: (04) 399 0009. 0-gravity.ae