The big brunch review: Secret Brunch at Emerald Palace Kempinski

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Is Secret Brunch at the Palace one to watch or one to forget?

Secret Parties is the name behind some of Dubai’s most popular weekly events including Secret Garden Brunch at Flair No.5 and Secret Ladies’ Day at Praia. Their newest venture is the Secret Brunch at Emerald Palace Kempinski, What’s On went to check it out and see if it can live up to the reputation of its counterparts.

If you’ve been to Emerald Palace Kempinski by now, you’ll know there’s nothing subtle about it. From the extravagant chandelier glistening above the lobby, to the Athenian-style pillars surrounding the grand exterior, it’s a fancy hotel to say the least. That’s why it seems somewhat unlikely that inside you’ll find the latest party brunch to storm the expat scene.

miX by Alain Ducasse, where the bunch takes place, isn’t as overwhelming as the hotel lobby, although the marble flooring is patched with an LED-lit purple carpet and from the ceiling descends hundreds of transparent acrylic tubes. Accents of gold come in the form of sofa cushions and hanging above the centre of the room is a grand metallic decorative dome.

It’s a tough choice between sitting outdoors on the beautiful sixth-floor alfresco terrace (which has a spectacular view of Dubai Marina) or indoors where the DJ is helping to build the party atmosphere. The tables are mostly filled with groups, and many of them have something to celebrate, be it a hen party or a big birthday.

Your main course will be made-to-order and there’s a choice of either black rice risotto, pan seared salmon or corn-fed chicken with roast potatoes. Expect the salmon to arrive very rare in the middle, although it was missing the crispy crust we were hoping for. However the vegetarian risotto is packed with flavour and the texture is light with crunchy croutons, albeit not the largest portions.

At the buffet you’ll find plenty of seafood and a DIY salad station. A selection of hot dishes are accessed via a window to the kitchen, highlights come in the form of a comforting lasagne, pomme dauphine potatoes and polenta mash. To finish the meal, its back to the buffet table where you’ll find a selection of patisseries to indulge in; freshly-fried chocolate French toast, Parisian flan, St Honore and Dubai Paris brest to name a few.

Two thirds of the way in to the brunch, the staff begin to visit each party pounding a large bass drum, waving sparklers & ‘happy birthday’ signs and swinging white cotton napkins above their heads, although it seems they’re enjoying the experience more than the birthday girls and guys.

Drinks are available on a soft, house, sparkling, or champagne package. All of your classic cocktails are on the menu, plus a ‘Shout miX’ tequila concoction which comes in a test tube. There’s a one drink at a time rule, to avoid the common brunch problem of filling an entire table with half empty drinks.

For the last hour of the brunch, a band begins to play and the atmosphere really lifts – many more people get up to dance and the musicians are very talented. They play alongside the DJ, covering a mix of modern and classic tunes, creating a party vibe which people can dance and singalong to.

While the brunch is lively, there’s still away to go before it reaches the epic partying calibre of their counterpart in DIFC, Secret Garden Brunch.

The Secret Brunch, Emerald Palace Kempinski, Palm Jumeirah, 1pm to 5pm, Fridays, Dhs299 soft, Dhs399 house, Dhs499 sparkling, Dhs599 champagne. Tel: (04) 248 8860. secret-parties.com/secretbrunchpalace

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