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…
Ruya: Friday 12pm to 4pm
It’s impossible not to love Ruya. The food is masterminded by a homegrown hero in the culinary world, Colin Clague, and it’s a stunning space that manages to draw in a crowd day in, day out. So it’s no surprise that Ruya’s just-launched ‘Grand Bazaar’ brunch is one we’re marking as a must-try. The four-hour package is definitely one for the foodies, with three sets of sharing starters served to the table, an a la carte main, and dessert selection. The food is a fantastic fusion of Turkish flavours, with standout dishes including Levrek; a seabass sashimi with mustard and apple, and the grain fed rib-eye cooked to perfection and served with a Turkish coffee. Drinks are free flowing and plentiful, staff are engaging, and as the afternoon progresses, Ruya becomes a lively spot with many brunchers taking to the dance floor as the electro-funky beats pick up.
Great for: Foodies to enjoy a varied selection of fantastic food
Best bit: It’s hard to pick, the setting and food come in as joint best bit
Worst bit: The fact that brunch ever has to end.
Ruya Dubai, Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina, Fridays 12pm to 4pm, Dhs299 soft, Dhs399 house, Dhs499 sparkling. Tel: (04) 399 9123. Taxi: Dubai Marina. Ruyadubai.com
Axe House: Friday 1pm to 4pm
Walking into Axe House feels like walking into a Neighbourhood pub. It’s warm and inviting, but as far from stuffy as you can imagine. As we enter, brunch has already kicked off, and there’s cheesy tunes being spun by the resident DJ, and large groups of friends celebrating birthdays spread across the terrace. The package is simple, and is based on monthly changing platters taken from the market menu. It’s carb focused, and designed to line the stomach for a big afternoon of drinking, but we enjoy almost all of it. Skip on the duck chou san choy and request a double serving of the Halloumi Churros. We’d never had them before, but we’ll be asking for the recipe. The afternoon is lively from start to finish, and it’s a fun, fuss-free way to spend an afternoon.
Great for: Gathering your mates for a fuss-free celebration
Best bit: The drinks selection, we loved the oversized cocktails and beers served in supersized glasses
Worst bit: On our visit, they haven’t quite got the sound right – which means the music is hard to hear.
Axe House, Armada Blue Bay Hotel, JLT, Fridays 1pm to 4pm, Dhs250 soft, Dhs350 house Tel: (04) 399 9577. axehouse.com
Soho Garden: Friday 4pm to 8pm
Soho Garden might just be one of our favourite new spots in the city. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s a huge multi-bar open-air space that’s already throwing some of the best parties in town. And their Balearic Brunch, which runs every Friday evening before the weekly Cafe Mambo residency is no exception. This isn’t a brunch about the food, the light menu is a well delivered range of dishes such as crayfish benedict, poke bowls and steak sandwiches. But if you’re looking for a lively atmosphere with a good selection of drinks and some of the city’s top DJs playing alongside international acts, Soho Garden will deliver just what you’re after.
Great for: A lively afternoon that builds into a party vibe – it’s a four hour package and we love that too.
Best bit: It’s a stunning venue, that makes you feel like you’ve left Dubai for the white Isle of Ibiza – you won’t want to come away.
Worst bit: The food menu is limited, and it’s more of a lunch set menu than a brunch. It works well for the concept, but not one for the big foodie fans.
Soho Garden, Meydan, Dubai, brunch 4pm to 8pm, Dhs450 house, Dhs550 prosecco, Dhs650 premium, party until late. Tel: (056) 82 22 559. Facebook.com/SohoGardenDXB
Hidden Brunch at Treehouse: Friday 1pm to 4pm
Treehouse has to be one of the best outdoor spots in Dubai. With Burj Khalifa views and a leafy setting, it’s one of Business Bay’s best hidden gems. Now it’s teamed up with neighbouring restaurant Tesoro, and the brains behind popular party brunch We Brunch for the launch of Hidden Brunch. It’s a three hour package that’s a mix of a la carte sharing dishes served to the table, as well as an international buffet. But this lively brunch is more about the party, with a DJ kicking in from the moment you arrive, and an extensive list of tropical cocktails. The package finishes at 4pm, which is when the volume goes up and revelers from brunches around Downtown head to Treehouse for the after party. There’s a great value drinks deal offering five beverages for Dhs150 until 7pm.
Great for: There’s a fantastic vibe in a gorgeous setting, and now the weathers cooler nothing is better than an al fresco brunch
Best bit: The cocktails are extensive, and you can make your way through a fantastic menu of them.
Worst bit: The food menu is limited, and it’s more of a lunch set menu than a brunch. It works well for the concept, but not one for the big foodie fans.
Hidden Brunch, Taj Dubai, Business Bay, 1pm to 4pm, Dhs299 soft, Dhs350 house, Dhs399 sparkling. Tel: (058) 827 2763. Hiddenbrunch.com
Toro & Ko: Friday 12pm to 4pm
If you like Spanish food, head down to Toro + Ko, which is dominating the brunch game in the burgeoning City Walk district. It features a selection of tapas including crispy patata bravas and grilled corn with espelette aioli, charcuterie boards and other Catalan favourites, alongside Toro’s famous paella. The arty interior (check out the colourful Ruben Sanchez paintings adorning every nook and cranny) and stylish patio give this place an unconventional Dubai feel. If the delicious paella pans and the laid-back atmosphere isn’t enough to tempt you, then the potent Sangria – with its delicious secret recipe – should do the trick. Prepare to be muy feliz.
Great for: Anything from a laidback lunch for two, to a civilized brunch with your pals – this is brunching for the sophisticated set.
Best bit: The top-notch Catalan cuisine served straight to your table. If you squeezed our arm to choose the best dish, we’d have to go with the paella. Lots of saffron, charred, sticky rice, and fresh seafood. Yum.
Worst bit: The ending. You’ll be so full, you’ll want to call an ambulance.
The Square, City Walk, Dubai, Fri noon to 4pm, Dhs325 with soft drinks, Dhs450 with house drinks, Dhs550 with champagne. Tel: (04) 5905433. torodubai.com
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
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