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. El Secreto brunch has all the initial ingredients for a successful party brunch. Props? Check. Oversized jugs of sharing cocktails? Check. Pumping music a little too loud for 1pm? Check, check, check. While not the most inventive Mexican food we’ve ever seen, it’s all generous portions, tasty, and guests are able to order more should they wish. The standout at this party brunch is the service. Staff are more than just friendly, they’re keen to have fun while ensuring guests drinks are topped up, food arrives in a timely fashion and ensure that almost the entire room is on their feet by the time the clock hits 5pm. The food hits the spot, the drinks menu is impressive and service is standout. We don’t think this one will be a Secreto for much longer…
El Secreto Brunch, La Carnita, Intercontinental Dubai Marina, 1pm to 5pm, Fridays, 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 so on our arrival the venue is unsurprisingly 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. For a more meaty course, guests are invited to step into the kitchen, where chefs offer roast beef on a production line. The slices of beef are very tender and juicy, while the roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding might have been sat out for a while, only masked by the over-salted red wine gravy. While the brunch has a great promotion running, it’s not one that will have you unbuttoning your top button through over-indulgence.
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 between courses. As well as the impressive dancers, brunch-goers were treated to performances by an aerialist and lively music that built the party up. The table service aspect of this brunch is a real highlight- there was no getting up, plate-in-hand to find your food. Extras of everything were plentiful, if almost a little too much. Dishes to order would help reduce food waste.
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
Found atop Jumeirah Beach Hotel, La Parrilla promises the best of Latin American cuisine, coupled with sky high views out to sea. The 25th floor restaurant certainly delivers on the sky high views, and we’d argue that it boasts some of the best views of the Burj Al Arab that the city has to offer. There’s nothing much in the fit out of the restaurant that indicates a Latin American theme, with simple whitewashed walls, exposed brickwork and generously sized leather chairs creating a simple but comfortable environment that lets the views do the talking. While starters are a bit hit and miss, food improves immensely when the mains are brought out. La Parrillada is the undoubted star of the show: essentially, it’s a mixed grill of premium cuts of beef, chicken and scallops and prawns served on a plate with a sizzling BBQ that allows brunch goers to finish their meat and mixed seafood to the cooking temperature they prepare. It’s a premium offering, elevated by the interactive element. Brunch finishes promptly – and rather abruptly – at 4pm exactly, when the music is switched off. At 4.15pm, a polite bouncer requests everyone leaves, which is a slightly sour end to an otherwise impressive afternoon.
La Parrilla Friday Brunch, La Parrilla, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, 1pm to 4pm, Fridays, Dhs415 soft, Dhs520 house, Dhs650 bubbles, Dhs190 children aged 4 to 12. Tel: (04) 432 3232. jumeirah.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
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, Dhs445. 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
The gorgeous roof deck on the sixth floor of the new Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai houses Tasca, and has a killer view and will be one of the best alfresco spots in the city come cooler climes. But since launching its Portuguese brunch only ten weeks ago, Tasca has been drawing crowds for its regional speciality drinks and Portuguese dishes inspired by acclaimed chef Jose Avillez, but actioned by chef Luciano Marques, who commands attention in the open central kitchen. Inventive dishes appear at a perfect pace, starting with fun canapes, hot appetisers then mains and dessert. An intimate yet lively brunch, and happy bellies all-round. Just what you want from a great brunch.
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
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.
Lido restaurant, QE2 Dubai, Port Rashid, Dubai, Fridays 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs225 soft, Dhs395 house. qe2.com