Ah, the glorious Dubai feast that is the Friday brunch. Here are some fresh-to-the-city options for those of you tired of the old classics…
El Secreto at La Carnita: Friday 1pm to 5pm
Not content with their garden brunch at Flair No5 (currently on hold for summer), high-end party brunch at Emerald Palace Kempinski and sellout ladies’ day at FIVE Palm Jumeirah, Secret Parties have launched a brand new party brunch at La Carnita every Friday. Called El Secreto, the new party brunch promises free flowing drinks, an array of Mexican street food to share and plenty of live entertainment.
El Secreto brunch, La Carnita, Intercontinental Dubai Marina, 1pm to 5pm, Fridays from July 19, Dhs299 soft, Dhs399 house. secret-parties.com
Verve Brasserie: Friday 1pm to 4pm
The brunch is currently running on a two-for-one offer on the house package, and the venue is busy. Guests can enjoy three hours of alcoholic drinks and lunch for less than Dhs200 per head, so it’s easy to see why. Setting the mood for an elegant afternoon, is the smooth saxophonist playing classic love songs live to the room. From the counter you’ll find a modest selection of appetisers including paprika smoked salmon and seared tuna, both of which are very tasty but require a second helping to fully enjoy the flavours. A large tray of freshly-shucked Dibba Bay oysters are laid out, with accompanying condiments, which we’re told have been personally picked by Nick & Scott.
Once Upon A Brunch, Verve, Grand Plaza Movenpick, Media City, Fridays, 1pm to 4pm, Dhs299 soft, Dhs399 house & sparking (buy one get one free), Dhs599 champagne. Tel: (04) 525 7633. vervebrasserie.com
London Project: Friday 1pm to 4pm
The Queen’s Immersive Brunch is a theatrical extravaganza that promises to deliver an ‘unforgettable show, with pomp, pageantry and a touch of debauchery’. The drinks selection is excellent. The usual house wines and beer are on offer, but the gin-blended cocktails are a real highlight. Aesthetically the food is impressive, with beautiful colours and delicate flower decorations continuing the garden theme from the interiors to plates. The ‘immersive’ show came in the form of a glammed-up ‘Queenie’ and her entourage, who put on an lively dance performance before staff brought another round of starters to the table -this time soft-shell halloumi tacos starters on candelabra-style platters. Soon after came a ceviche, and champagne battered fish and chips served with a moreish aioli – which were an all round favourite.
The Queen’s Immersive Brunch, The London Project, Bluewaters Island, Dubai, Fridays, 1pm to 4pm, Dhs395 soft, Dhs495 house , Dhs795 champagne. Tel: (054) 306 1822. thelondonproject.com
Matagi at Emerald Palace Kempinski: Friday 7pm to 11pm
When we arrive at the restaurant, we’re not expecting a busy venue but to our surprise, almost every table is full. There’s a lively buzz of atmosphere and smooth house beats are playing at just the right volume. We’re quickly shown to a table in the centre, with a perfect view of the chefs working away in their glass covered kitchen, and the bar team whizzing up intricate cocktails. Crazy Rich Brunch is the ideal evening brunch, with great food and a lively atmosphere but without trying too hard with gimmicks and distracting entertainment. It’s a classy affair with authentic Asian cuisine, and a diverse selection of drinks. The summer promotion is priced at Dhs299 for the soft package and Dhs399 for house drinks.
Crazy Rich Brunch, Matagi, Emerald Palace Kempinski, 7pm to 11pm, Fridays, Dhs299 soft, Dhs399 house. Tel: (04) 248 8850. matagidxb.com
LAH LAH at Zabeel House the Greens: Friday 2pm to 5pm
The party brunch called F.L.O (for love of) brunch, promises a throwback, classic R&B sound track a three-course a la carte menu served up alongside free-flowing house drinks. Kicking off at the slightly later (and more civilised) time of 2pm, the three-hour party brunch will launch on Friday July 19. Soft drinks will be priced at Dhs299, the house package is Dhs375 and bubbles is Dhs450. In signature Love Parties style, guests can expect a brilliant after party post-brunch, with a drinks deal offering 5 drinks for Dhs150 from 5pm onwards. So, even if you don’t make it for brunch, you can kick off your evening with a value drinks deal by heading to the after party.
FLO Brunch by Love Parties, Lah Lah, Zabeel House The Greens, The Greens, 2pm to 5pm, Fridays from July 19, Dhs299 soft, Dhs375 house, Dhs450 bubbly. lovepartiesgroup.com
Wet Deck at W Dubai – The Palm: Friday 1pm to 5pm
A brunch buffet, pool access, big tunes and a swim up bar… this brunch ticks all the boxes for a brilliant party brunch in the sun. The buffet stretches along the length of the poolside, brimming with stations of lamb chops, beef brisket, colourful burgers, tender ribs and super-stretched hot dogs – it’s a meat-lover’s dream. There’s also a nacho station with guac made fresh in front of you, towers of tortilla chips and gooey melted cheese. Drinks include large jars of refreshing fruity cocktails, sparkling is included as standard, and cheerful waiters distribute bottles of beer directly to the beds. Frozen fruit pops are also offered. Music is supplied by DJ Shef Codes and W Dubai’s own music curator Smokingroove. Alongside a live violinist, there’s a mix of commercial house and R&B tunes to get you in the party spirit.
Palm Sugar Pool Brunch, The WET Deck, W the Palm Dubai, Palm Jumeriah, Dubai, 1pm to 5pm, Fridays, Dhs395. Tel: (04) 245 5555. facebook.com
Hell’s Kitchen: Friday 12.30pm to 4pm
If you’re familiar with the Hell’s Kitchen TV show, you’ll know the basic premise is that two teams; red and blue battle it out to be crowned head chef of a restaurant. And at the brunch ta Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen restaurant in Dubai is inspired by exactly that concept. Upon arrival, the red and blue teams are not immediately clear. Stations are split into cold and hot starters, an array of breads and pastries and a dedicated dessert buffet, with a separate station for children. Each station is manned by a team of chefs eager to share their knowledge, with half in red hats, the other half in blue. It’s a subtle nod to the theme, which we appreciate. While guests can help themselves to an unlimited array of starters, mains are a la carte, with eight options of signature dishes to choose from. Towards the end of the brunch, four brunchgoers are selected to take part in an eton mess-making competition, overseen by head chef Craig Best and general manager Danny Thomas. While I don’t think the culinary team have much competition from the willing participants, it gets the whole room on their feet and involved. Plus, the winner gets themselves a free brunch – not bad if your whisking skills are worth shouting about.
Hellicious Brunch, Hell’s Kitchen, Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai, Bluewaters, off JBR, Dubai Marina, 12.30pm to 4pm, Fridays, Dhs350 soft, Dhs450 house, Dhs600 champagne. Tel: (04) 556 6466. caesars.com/dubai
Tasca at Mandarin Oriental: Friday 12.30pm to 4pm
If you haven’t been to this Portuguese eatery yet, trust us when we say the terrace is stunning. A calm infinity pool casually sits in-front of an endless sea view, but if you can’t handle the heat the inside is equally as beautiful, with views of Downtown Dubai from the other side. Launching on June 21, the brunch costs Dhs400 including drinks and will run every Friday from 12.30pm to 4pm.
Tasca, Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Jumeriah, 12.30pm to 4pm, Fridays, Dhs400. Tel: (04) 777 2222. mandarinoriental.com
The Loft at Dubai Opera: Friday 12pm to 4pm
It’s a brave move calling your brunch the Lofty Caviar Brunch, considering that the thought of caviar divides diners into two camps: those who adore it, and those who wouldn’t touch the stuff. Regardless of which category you fall into, you’ll want to visit this brunch on the rooftop of Dubai Opera. Why? Because besides the enormous barrel of salt-cured roe, there’s so much more to enjoy. Among the cooking stations dotted around the glorious sun-dappled rooftop of Dubai Opera are an oyster counter (complete with friendly oyster shucker, rapidly opening oyster shells as quickly as his merry hands can move), a barbecue counter, where marinated steak and large prawns sizzle, a pasta and risotto counter, lovingly prepared on a huge Parmesan wheel, and a couple of cocktail stations thrown in for good measure. Brilliantly at the Lofty brunch, it’s not about getting up, queuing for your food and sitting back down again. Instead, it’s more of a laidback, leisurely affair. Think foie gras, lamb shoulder, burrata, duck fat chips and pa- seared seabass, all brought to your table, too. It’s a genuine gourmet feast of epic proportions and one we’d be more than delighted to attend again. It’s certainly one of the better brunches we’ve been to in a long time…
The Loft Terrace, Rooftop, Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, Fri noon to 4pm, Dhs395 with soft drinks, Dhs495 with house drinks, Dhs595 with champagne. Tel: (04) 3627312. facebook.com/theloftatopera
Traiteur Brunch at The Promenade Dubai: Friday 1pm to 4.30pm
If you’ve been in Dubai any longer than a week or so, you’ll have heard of Traiteur Brunch. Known as one of the city’s biggest – and most lavish – feasts, it takes place each Friday at the waterfront of Dubai’s Creek’s Park Hyatt hotel. Drinks are brought to the table in a timely fashion, and it’s a premium offering for all packages. As standard, sparkling wine, margaritas, aperol spritz and daquiris are all included, alongside the usual offerings of wine, beer and spirits. Food-wise, there’s truly something for everyone, and it’s hard to explain the extent of the spread unless you’ve seen it. Inside NOEPE, you’ll find fresh seafood served on ice, with tiered towers of fresh oysters, crabs legs, lobster, mussels, clams and scallops topped up frequently by the culinary team. Once you’ve got your seafood fix, head inside to the main restaurant, where the open plan kitchen welcomes guests to wander their way through international dishes. You’ll want to save room for dessert. Fondly nicknamed ‘The Willy Wonka Room’, the dessert room is filled with fresh pastries, cakes, mousses and warm puddings that would impress even those without a sweet tooth.
The Promenade, Park Hyatt, Deira, 1pm to 4.30pm, Fridays, Dhs495 soft, Dhs695 sparkling, Dhs775 bubbly, Dhs895 premium bubbly. Tel: (04) 602 1814. thepromenadedxb.com
Lido at QE2 Dubai: Friday 12.30pm to 4pm
The QE2 was known it is sailing heyday for lavish spreads and luxe dinner parties, but now it’s anchored in Dubai, how does its Friday brunch measure up to its high reputation? The buffet selection is brilliant, with everything from seafood and salads to made to order pasta, Asian dishes and a live carving station. The dishes are constantly being stocked up by dozens of chefs, and the layout is clear enough that you can move around everything with ease. Service is faultless – staff are friendly and a team of waiters and waitresses are always on hand to clear away plates and top up glasses. The live entertainment is a bit hit and miss, with one singer stronger than the second. But, song choices are popular with brunch goers and many are dancing along with little ones by the time the third set kicks in. It’s a brilliant option for families, with a huge play area adjacent to the restaurant housing all the toys and playhouses little ones could need for a fun-filled afternoon.
Our verdict: Great for families, or taking guests to a unique location
Lido restaurant, QE2 Dubai, Port Rashid, Dubai, Fridays 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs225 soft, Dhs395 house. qe2.com
Katsuya by Starck: Fridays 12pm to 4pm
On a beautiful sunny day, there’s no better choice than a comfortable outdoor booth, looking directly out onto the private beach of the hotel. Burj Al Arab is standing proud, peeking through the palm leaves, while the moat that flows through the area is home to a variety of pond fish. With unlimited choices of buffet and made-to-order options for the brunch, you won’t leave hungry. From the buffet you’ll find a wide range of cold canapés, sushi, sashimi and maki rolls, all expertly displayed with attention to detail on point. Then a selection of four starters arrives, followed by a robata platter. If you’ve got room – make your way to the bar where you’ll find an array of sweet treats to help yourself from. The brunch is a great choice for lovers of Japanese cuisine. The relaxed vibe means it’s also a gorgeous spot to bring visiting relatives who are looking for plenty of tasty food, unlimited refreshing drinks and a beautiful view of Dubai.
Our verdict: A classy Friday brunch perfect for Japanese cuisine lovers
Katsuya Big Brunch, Katsuya by Starck, Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, noon to 4pm, Fridays, Dhs350 soft, Dhs450 house, Dhs550 sparkling. Tel: (04) 419 0676. katsuyarestaurant.com