What’s On reviews new brunches in Dubai for May 2015, including Toy Brunch, Media One, 360, Rib Room, Salero, Delphine, Tribeca and more.
Setting: The 27th floor of this stunning Business Bay spot feels like part observation deck, part bar, part club. There are no walls, just floor to ceiling windows that are semi-open at the top. Lots of plants and sunflowers turn Iris into a garden in the sky.
Food: A fantastic BBQ on the terrace knocked out steaks, sliders, chicken wings and spicy sausages, with a live risotto station nearby, and some good quesadillas. Inside there were decent spreads of sushi and smoked salmon, plus some salads and a bread basket.
Best bit: The mixologists. You can choose any drink from the menu and then watch the charismatic bar staff shake, stir and muddle fresh ingredients, herbs, spices, and homemade syrups – no sugar added – to make your cocktail.
Worst bit: The desserts tasted stale and dry, as if they had been left out overnight.
Atmosphere: It’s a friendly and laidback party, with no mad rush to finish at 4pm. Extending the brunch to 6pm means the whole thing has a peaceful, smiley vibe.
The Oberoi, Business Bay, Dubai, Fri 1pm to 6pm, Dhs360 with soft drinks, Dhs460 with house drinks, Dhs560 with champagne. Tel: (056) 9511442. Metro: Business Bay. facebook.com/pages/Iris-Dubai
The Rib Room Brunch
Venue: The Rib Room
Setting: A smart and elegant steakhouse on The Palm with lots of dark wood, low lights and shutters on the windows. It felt quite New Yorky.
Food: Choose from three options: a sharing menu of five courses, a six-course ‘Best Of The Rib Room’, or choose your own three-course brunch. There were excellent dishes featuring lots of meat and British classics. Look out for the smoked salmon, prawn cocktail, and sticky toffee pudding.
Best bit: The cheese trolley was a talking point. Everybody in the restaurant oohed and ahhed when it wheeled near their table.
Worst bit: Variety is good, but the choice of three menus seems a bit over the top. We spent a lot of time reading and deciding what to have when we wanted to chat.
Atmosphere: The Rib Room may be a butch kind of steakhouse but brunch was fun and not at all stuffy. One last thing: the adjoining terrace is a lovely spot for a bit of post-brunch reverie; they have drinks deals from 4pm to 6pm.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, The Palm, Dubai, Fri 12.30pm to 3.30pm, Dhs350 with soft drinks, Dhs475 withhouse drinks, Dhs595 with bubbly. Tel: (04) 4530664. Taxi: The Palm, west crescent. jumeirah.com
Setting: Brought back to mark Scarlett’s 15th anniversary, this brunch is a casual affair in a big, bright restaurant. It’s a summer special with the last edition on June 12 so book now.
Food: Buffet and live stations served things like nachos, tacos, quesadillas, ribs from the carving station, burgers, pizzas and pastas, and ice-cream
Best bit: The pan fried jumbo prawns and the slow roasted beef were fantastic.
Worst bit: The live stations could have been more engaging, with a bit more activity going on.
Atmosphere: This is a chilled brunch that’s good for families. The live band went through a nice catalogue of rock and blues classics.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai, Fri 1pm to 5pm, Dhs265 with soft drinks, Dhs385 with soft drinks and house drinks. Tel: (04) 3198088. Metro: Emirates Towers. jumeirah.com
Venue: Kempinski Hotel
Setting: Salero has no windows, which is always disappointing for a day brunch, but the shabby chic interior and serenading Spaniard with a guitar made up for it.
Food: The menu is authentic and Spanish. Bread was served with garlic, tomato, salt and olive oil. Hot and cold tapas of shrimp, braised ribs and gazpacho were good, as was the squid ink paella, which you can watch the chefs preparing in the open kitchen.
Best bit: Sangria is used as a base for the cocktails, which were served in jars full of crushed ice and provided a talking point. And the service was slick.
Worst bit: The DJ had the volume turned up to 32, which made it hard to have a chat.
Atmosphere: Although Salero describes its brunch as a fiesta, it’s nicely low key.
Kempinski Hotel, Mall Of The Emirates, Fri 1pm to 4pm, Dhs295 with soft drinks and sangria, Dhs350 with sangria and house drinks. Tel: (04) 4095888. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates. kempinski.com
Venue: Delphine Restaurant & Bar
Setting: Cream couches, dark woods, and slick modern lines. The brunch is labelled as ‘Californian,’ but a more appropriate phrase might be glamorous Hollywood.
Food: A self-service seafood-heavy salad bar was good, while meaty mains were brought to the table, ranging from fried fish to veal tenderloin. Order the Funnel Cookies, a combination of crunchy batter and homemade coffee ice cream. The menu changes regularly.
Best bit: The staff were fantastic. Various dietary requirements, ranging from vegetarian to no-seafood, were accommodated easily.
Worst bit: Occasionally the live band became too loud, requiring pauses in conversation. And The desserts were fairly average.
Atmosphere: Guests were well-heeled and refined rather than rowdy. This is a classy brunch with the feel of old Hollywood.
The H Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Fri 12.30pm to 4.30pm, Dhs230 with soft drinks, Dhs390 with house drinks. Tel: (04) 5018623. Metro: World Trade Centre. h-hotel.com
Big Brunch On 8
Venue: Media One Hotel
Setting: Three very different vibes spread across three very different venues: the casual Med restaurant inside, the poolside party spot Dek On 8 and the laid-back atmosphere of the new outdoor Garden On 8.
Food: A little bit of everything. From the meat feast at the poolside BBQ to the on-demand pasta station, every box is ticked. Inside there was a pizza oven, a carvery, sushi platter and even a crepe chef.
Best bit: The size. Three venues and more than ten different food stops, but still this brunch felt perfectly manageable without ever feeling crowded.
Worst bit: When the brunch ended everybody had to evacuate the Garden On 8 area, which was a shame as it’s a nice spot to see the sunset. You have to go poolside or leave.
Atmosphere: Things got a little raucous towards the end. Then again, karaoke inside in The Med restaurant for the final hour might be your thing.
Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, Dubai, Fri 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs250 with soft drinks, Dhs375 with house drinks. Tel: (04) 4271000. Metro: Nakheel. mediaonehotel.com
Big Apple Brunch
Setting: This indie hangout is a mish mash of styles, furniture and décor – and it looks pretty cool.
Food: The food is organic. Yes, all of it. Fish tacos were rustled up right in front of us, the sliders from the BBQ were juicy; there was a carvery station of roast beef, chicken and a fillet of salmon; the salads were varied and healthy (quinoa, kale, beetroot, lentil for example). And the apple cake to finish was a hit.
Best bit: Tribeca’s perfectly-judged afternoon slot of 2pm to 6pm means you can collect your dry cleaning and hit the gym on Friday morning without feeling that mad rush to get to brunch.
Worst bit: For such a cool, laidback spot, the service felt a bit stiff and lifeless. And the music needs to be turned down a notch.
Atmosphere: People were gliding around the stations, rather than rushing to get their feed. This is a brunch done at a lovely, slow pace.
JA Ocean View Hotel, JBR, Dubai, Fri 2pm to 6pm, Dhs199 with soft drinks, Dhs349 with house drinks and cocktails. Tel: (050) 3456067. Metro: JLTL. tribeca.ae
Venue: Latest Recipe
Setting: This evening brunch in the French brasserie inside Le Meridien Mina Seyahi is a tranquil one. There are lush gardens surrounding the terrace. Choose a table out here for a great view of the entertainment.
Food: This is a scaled back version of the standard international brunches that Dubai is famous for. Get ready to tuck into Thai food, barbecue, sushi, pasta, and everything in between.
Best bit: The food. Everything we tasted was freshly-cooked and delicious. Special mention goes to the barbecued ribs.
Worst bit: The entertainment won’t be to everybody’s taste. The acoustic singer was talented, but the balancing chair act threatened to tip things over into Butlin’s territory.
Atmosphere: A laidback evening affair, the Sparkling Brunch is a great option for families or if you have visitors in town.
Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Al Sufouh, Dubai, Fri 7pm to 10.30pm, Dhs250 with soft drinks, Dhs375 with house drinks. Tel: (04) 3993333. Metro: Dubai Marina. lemeridien-minaseyahi.com
Le Plaisir Friday Brunch
Venue: Frioul Bistro de Luxe
Setting: Don’t let the location near the busy Souk Madinat taxi drop-off put you off. Once you’re down the steps, and around the corner, you could be in the Med at this calm, canal-side venue.
Food: A pleasant mix of French favourites such as fried frogs’ legs, mixed with international dishes such as prawns and mango, salmon linguine and a tender wagyu fillet.
Best bit: This really is one of the prettiest spots in Dubai in which to eat. Try to get there early so you can snag a table by the water and watch the fish swim about.
Worst bit: The service wasn’t very slick. Unfortunately, the staff seemed too busy to offer much help.
Atmosphere: The jazz band were great and created a nice, sleepy atmosphere.
Souk Madinat, Dubai, Fri noon to 4pm, Dhs295 with soft drinks, Dhs395 with house drinks, Dhs495 with bubbly. Tel: (04) 5670011. Taxi: Souk Madinat. frioulbistrodeluxe.com
Venue: China Grill
Setting: Think nightclub crossed with the set of a children’s TV show. Don’t be surprised to see a giant panda or a dancing ballerina through the darkness.
Food: There were sharing platters of pretty good sushi, some tasty dim sum and grilled meats, plus a Peking duck station in which the chef made the pancakes for you.
Best bit: That duck station. We admit we made multiple visits and we were on first name terms with the chef by the end.
Worst bit: The beverage selection was limited to vodka or rose – we reckon a Dhs450 price tag should come with more choice.
Atmosphere: You get strong party vibes at China Grill. This brunch kicks off at 1.30pm in the afternoon, but the dim lighting and loud music made it feel like the night was in full swing.
Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh, Dubai, Fri 1.30pm to 4.30pm, Dhs450 with house drinks, Dhs550 with champagne. Tel: (04) 3994141. Metro: Dubai Marina. westinminaseyahi.com
Must-Sea Open Air Brunch
Setting: Dubai’s landmark night spot with 360 degree views of Dubai’s coastline has a DJ and a cool crowd for their new brunch. You can sit on the deck or indoors.
Food: This Pan-Asian brunch kicked off with noodle salads, Thai salads, sushi and sashimi, before mains including spicy soup, juicy ribs, chicken skewers and sides of chips or salad. Dessert was a buffet of cakes, tarts and puddings featuring tropical flavours such as mango, coconut, lychee, and lemongrass but by this time you’ll want to head upstairs for the after-party and sunset.
Best bit: You can’t beat the views at 360˚. Plus you get a pair of flip flops and abeach bag when you leave.
Worst bit: If 360˚ wants to rival the best party brunches in Dubai, it needs a bigger crowd to generate some buzz.
Atmosphere: The DJ played easygoing tunes that created a chilled brunch.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, Fri 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs405 with soft drinks, Dhs555 with sparkling wine, Dhs645 with champagne. Tel: (04) 3665866. Taxi: Jumeirah Beach Hotel. jumeirah.com
Venue: Zeta Restaurant And Lounge
Setting: With a close-to-perfect view overlooking the Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain, this alfresco brunch serves dishes in stylish but relaxed surroundings.
Food: Described as Asian fusion, we shared course after course of everything from beef tataki, grilled jumbo prawns to a boat load of sushi. It’s a la carte, allowing more time to take in the view as well as the unique cocktails on offer – be sure to share a blackcurrant and honey ‘Ubertail’.
Best bit: From all the six courses the wagyu beef striploin was the stand out dish, with the substantial selection of sushi taking a close second.
Worst bit: Make sure your table is properly shaded from the midday sun as it can get quite toasty on Zeta’s impressive terrace.
Atmosphere: A chilled and classy brunch with views fit for Instagram. It’s a perfect spot to take visitors.
The Address Downtown, Dubai, Fri 12.30pm to 4.30pm, Dhs290 with soft drinks, Dhs425 with house drinks. Tel: (04) 4368888. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. theaddress.com
The Lazy Brunch
Venue: The Scene
Setting: This charming Pier 7 haunt from British celebrity chef Simon Rimmer is Granny-chic meets hipster hangout with mismatched furniture, exposed brick walls and a tongue-in-cheek art collection adorning the walls. It’s light-hearted, fun but wholesome – much like the menu and clientele.
Food: To start, there was jolly good picnic plank to share featuring tea-smoked mackerel pâté, posh cheese on toast made with brie, liver pâté and cured salmon, all served on a rustic cheese board. This was followed by a selection of a la carte plates such as steak and chips, the signature burger or classic fish and chips.
Best bit: For Brits this was the quintessence of home comfort food, in hearty portions – it was very satisfying and almost morale-boosting.
Worst bit: If you’re not a big seafood fan, the first platter will be more miss than hit.
Atmosphere: It’s a leisurely paced brunch with a largely British clientele, so everyone is in the mood for a good, noisy time.
Pier 7, Dubai Marina, Dubai, Fri 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs250 with soft drinks, Dhs375 with cocktails, Dhs450 with sparkling wine. Tel: (04) 4222328. Metro: JLT. facebook.com/TheSceneDubai