Family brunch review: Into the Jungle at Giardino, Palazzo Versace
Welcome to the jungle, they’ve got fun and games…
Brunching can be a risky pastime when you have kids in tow. If you, the responsible adult, want any kind of enjoyable experience you essentially have two options — you can load up the iPads with digital distractions, and then just suffer the parental screen time guilt, or you opt-in for a family brunch that offers entertainment activities.
But even the latter has its dangers. Not all brunches are created equal. Success requires a range of interactive fun, for all ages, tastes and tantrum-sizes. One poor tortured soul in the corner face-painting endless toothy smiled fizzogs with butterflies and Spider-Men, just isn’t going to cut it.
We’re walking across the famous Medusa-tiled lobby floor of Jaddaf’s Palazzo Versace, on our way to Giardino for the Into the Jungle Brunch. It’s a collaboration with ‘Family Brunch‘ — an event organiser that, unsurpisingly, puts on family brunches at a number of the city’s top hotels.
In the jungle
The marbled finery of this fashion palace peels away as you step into the staging venue, it’s bright, open, and devoid of any priceless artifacts that sugar-dizzy five year olds might accidentally (on purpose) destroy. There’s a central island offering seafood, rustic bread and fragrant cheeses, there are British roast-style carvery stations, curries, sushi ensembles, a wok-ful of aromatic South East Asian cuisine, and a dedicated corner for kids to make their own good food choices.
There is always going to be a ceiling on how strong the gastronomy at an international buffet can be, but for families — an institution where patience is often unequally distributed — having a wide variety of palate pleasers on-demand and with point-blank access can be the difference between bliss and a force 10, snot-faced meltdown. And besides, this particular spread is most certainly at the upper end of the international buffet league table. Our favourite plates were the expertly grilled lobster tails, and the ‘perfect medium’ roast beef rump.
The mighty jungle
The entertainment is where this brunch really reaches for the upper canopies. Throughout the event a costumed Groot stalks the tables, outside on the terrace there is face-painting, but you’ll also find a colouring camp and take-home plant-potting. Moana popped in, fresh from an intercontinental raft trip, to perform a musical extravaganza and hold meet and greets with aspiring princesses (singer may vary on other dates). And the seemingly omnipresent Magic Phil (he is magic after all) put on, one of his hugely entertaining, double entendre-packed shows, teasing almost as many cackles from the parents as he does from the kids.
The little lions will sleep well tonight
To help you really make a day of it, your brunch admission also includes pool passes, giving you access to the audaciously appointed Central and West pools, as well as the kid’s club.
Verdict: This is without a doubt one of the best set-ups for family-friendly brunches in the whole of Dubai, elevated yet further by an outstanding level of patient and professional service. Our group contained kids aged two to 14, all of whom turned in reviews of being well-fed, well-entertained, and well up for an early bedtime. And that is worth its weight in Italian marble. Rating: A
Palazzo Versace, Jaddaf Waterfront, Saturdays 12.30 to 4.30pm, soft Dhs315, house Dhs415, sparkling Dhs515, premium sparkling Dhs715. Book on familybrunchdubai.com