Is this new bar a chest-beating silverback, or just another chimp dressed up in fancy clothes?

These days, in Dubai, a city where entertainment venues are ferrying-in giant chrome animal statues by helicopter, and fitting swings with Burj Khalifa views, you’ve got to go hard to capture people’s attention.

And to keep those eyes on you for any meaningful length of time, there needs to be a substance behind that sleight-of-hand.

Which is why we were only cautiously excited by the noise surrounding the opening of Bluewaters’ latest adult-aimed attraction, Brass Monkey, a licensed bar and restaurant that casually packs a 12-lane bowling alley and over 60 retro arcade games into its double-floor space.

Like us, you’re probably wondering, ‘what type of monkey have we (softly) caught here?’ Is it a chest-beating silverback, or just another chimp dressed up in fancy clothes?


You get a pretty solid answer as soon as you step through the doors. It’s a neon-lit, wildly handsome interior, filled with eye-catching details. Look up in the ground floor’s bar and you’ll find a clutch of bowling pin chandeliers.

Which neatly brings us to the bowling alley. This feature is no gimmick. It’s a clear demonstration of aspirations that go beyond the aesthetic. The minds behind the concept want you to come here for an experience.

At 12 lanes, it’s the biggest of its sort in Dubai, and we can borderline guarantee this place will be rattling to a chorus of strikes, spares and embarrassing lane buddy interventions every single night in the near future.


At level-two, appropriately, there’s more gaming afoot. A trio of pool tables, basketball free-throw units, a VR racing simulator and the glowing screens of some of the finest examples of button-bashing, slot-feeding action in arcade history.

The hall of familiar pixels includes Pac-Man; Street Fighter II; TMNT; Mortal Kombat; X-Men; 1942; Space Invaders; Donkey Kong; Moto GP; and NBA Jam. You play by juicing up a pay-as-you-go card, which you can keep for future visits.


There are two menu options on site, Bushido and Americana. The former is set up as an homage to Tokyo-style noodle bars and deals in modern pan-Asian staples such as ramen, charred miso salmon and green curry mussels.

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Americana has more of an international feel. There are tacos, sliders, kebabs, salads and pizzas. We dove deep into the selection and were impressed by what was served. Our highlights were the buttery lobster rolls, the deep umami vibes from the vegan pizza and no-fuss Angus beef slider.

There’s also a classic 80s-inspired banana split dessert that’s packed with orangu-tang.

Verdict: It’s the perfect venue for a date night, a parent’s ‘yay no kids tonight’ night, a post-brunch meeting point, or a lads’ and ladies’ night. It’s got so much game, we’re giving it a straight-up ‘ape-plus’ both for effort and execution.

Brass Monkey, Bluewaters Island, Sun to Tue 2pm to 1am, Wed to Thu 2pm to 3am, Fri midday to 3am, Sat midday to 1am. Tel: (052) 775 5317,

Images: What’s On Archive