If brunches were an Olympic sport, Dubai would definitely be the gold medal winner.
We’ve rounded up a list of favourite weekend feasts, tried and tested by us, to suit hungry families, peckish party animals, epicureans with an appetite.
Words: Vanisha Rajesh
Traiteur, The Promenade, Park Hyatt Dubai
Traiteur is a brunch that comes with a prestigious reputation that carries to its new home at creek-side dining village, The Promenade a stone’s skim from its old address.
The experience is spread across three outlets – NOÉPE, Brasserie du Park and seventyseventy – with their own cuisine and ambient charm. The focal point is the open kitchen, where chefs prepare much of the food before your eyes. On the buffet you’ll find Gallic classics from land and sea, crudités, starters, principle plates and palate cleansers.
The food is an intrinsically good gallop through some of French cuisine’s landmark dishes. From rotisserie poultry and pin-precision roasted poussin, to the provincial crusted lamb racks and tenderloin so soft and tender it could be cut by human finger. The net-fresh seafood is a further triumph – expertly-shelled crab, dreamy creamy langoustine and a submarinal garden of delicious ocean molluscs.
Assuming there is room left in your stomach for dessert, welcome to your gastronomic Everest. There are two rooms of sweets, and a small village of cheese available to peruse. It’s an enchanted forest of cakes and gateaus, of macaron fairy tales and glooping chocolate fountains.
Traiteur is impossible to fault – the only slight reservation you might have about booking immediately is the price.
Fridays, 1pm-4.30pm. Soft drinks AED 495 per person; beverage packages from AED 695-AED 895. The Promenade, Park Hyatt Dubai. Call 04 602 1814.
Roberto’s Dubai has been around for many years and as we see by the number of awards at the entrance, we doubt we will be disappointed by our brunch experience.
The resident DJ plays upbeat and mainstream songs with South American flair from the moment we enter. By no means your typical Italian eatery, Roberto’s is stylishly decked out with colourful pillows and slowly fills up with socialites looking to quench their thirst.
Four courses are served direct to our table, starting with a dramatic seafood platter toppling over with lobster, crab, tuna tartar and prawns. You must definitely bring an appetite when coming to this brunch, as the table quickly fills up with carpaccio on toast, salmon bruschetta, mozzarella cheese sticks, and a green salad. At this point we’re starting to worry how we’re going to make it to the main course, but we’re granted a short break before tackling a delicious cod fillet with Mediterranean sauce and vegetables, and a traditional veal Milanese cooked to perfection.
Dessert almost upstages everything, with a sharing plate of 10 different desserts served spectacularly. The homemade vanilla and pistachio ice cream is to die for but the panacotta is definitely our favourite!
AED 365 soft drinks; AED 475 house beverages and mixed drinks; AED 575 includes bubbles and premium mixed drinks. Every Friday from 12pm till 4pm. Building 1,Gate Village. 04 386 006.
The City Brunch, Seasonal Tastes, The Westin Al Habtoor City
Some brunches favour gimmicks and even leave you hungry. But The City Brunch puts the focus on stuff that really matters, namely good food and refreshments in a very family-friendly environment.
Set in Seasonal Tastes, at The Westin – Al Habtoor City, this Friday feast excels on several levels, especially if you’re a parent. A kid-dedicated area bounces with music, supervised activities, a giant playpen, face painting, drawing desks, a movie corner, a PlayStation – even a cooking class. Little brunchers also have their own buffet of healthy snacks and desserts.
The more adult aspect is across the lobby in the main restaurant. Drawing on key outlets in the Al Habtoor City hotel trio, it’s like a taster board for the best of The Westin, W Hotel Dubai and St Regis – a culinary adventure across 17 different stations.
Think foie gras, six cuts of steak with a bewildering 30 sauces and eight mustards, New York strip and moist short rib, potatoes prepared a dozen different ways, barbecue bites from The Westin’s pool lounge, Firefly. There’s Insta-loving sushi and sashimi from W Dubai’s Namu, plus an artistic bread section and more-ish shish tawook. Be indecisive at multiple smoked salmon choices, French oysters and lobster – and 40 camera-ready desserts. Then there are those gooey cheeses…
The biggest surprise, perhaps, is the price, when lesser brunches can nudge the AED500 mark.
The Westin – Al Habtoor City. 04 435 5577. Every Friday, 1pm-4.30pm. AED 250 soft drinks; AED 345house beverages and sparkling grape. Kids aged five to 12 years join in for AED 135. Under fives eat for free.
So Cho, Dubai Marine Resort
Dubai Marine Beach Resort has a number of different bars and restaurants and if you venture past the usual favourites, down past the shoreline, you will find So Cho; a trendy Japanese restaurant and bar lounge overlooking the ocean that ranks high on our brunch scale.
One piece of advice is, go hungry! So Cho certainly does not skimp on the food and the dishes keeps coming to our table throughout the evening, while drinks are replenished. Quality mostly matches quantity, with the highlights being the ceviche, tempura, gyoza and edamame, which was served with ginger and sesame seeds; a welcome change from the plain salted variety. Perhaps they could reduce the number of dishes on offer make those that they do serve the very best they can be.
Fridays, 8pm-12am. AED 165 for food and soft drinks, AED 250 with open bar. 04 346 1111. Dubai Marine Resort, Jumeirah.
Hive at Warehouse, Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre
Buzz along to the bee-themed brunch at Hive. This popular Friday treat has been ‘bee-vived’ into a relaxed, fun and buzzy brunch where you certainly won’t get stung.
We dig into a un-beeelievable line up of barbecue buffet, including a fabulous selection of spiced fish, barbecued chicken, sweetcorn and grilled brie. The salad bar has all the staples of cold cuts, sushi, pasta and seafood. If that all sounds too virtuous, flutter on over to the desert section and ask the chef to whip up some fresh crepes, with choice of strawberry and chocolate sauces.
Bench-style seats outside is ideal for groups who want to go al fresco, or if you feel chilly, ask to be sat inside. If you would like to bring your children, we recommend booking a table outside. Guests of all ages will love the entertainment – dancers, a singer and ‘bees’ teetering around on stilts.
AED 259 with unlimited food and house beverages, from 1pm to 4pm. Kids six-12 AED 150. Under sixes are free. Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Garhoud.
The Artisan by Enoteca Pinchiorri, DIFC
At this brunch the food is the star, served to classically set tables with elegant glassware, china and cutlery.
Although the menu is set, there are a wide selection of items to choose from, so resist the urge to fill up on the outstanding freshly-baked breads. We select two antipasti from 12 options, followed by a home-made pumpkin agnolotti served family style with a butter and sage sauce; one choice from the Secondi menu that offers all sorts of protein with an accompaniment of choice, and finally a selection of traditional Italian desserts.
We recommend the beef carpaccio and vitello tonato, both equally delicious! The main course of tender beef cheeks, with slivers of topinambour, is another one not to miss.
Fridays, 12pm-4pm. AED 295 with soft beverages; AED 395 with grape and house; AED 445 bubbles. Prices exclude 10 per cent DIFC authority fee and 5 per cent VAT. Burj Daman Building, DIFC. 04 338 8133.
The Meydan Family Fridays Brunch
So here’s what we’ve learnt this weekend, don’t dismiss a family brunch if you don’t have kids.
Kids or no kids, this brunch is a fabulous way to catch up with your mummy and daddy friends.
Grown ups can choose from a generous spread of live food stations, serving Japanese, Asian, Indian and British food. Whether you want a simple smoothie, oysters and bubbles or a good old roast dinner, it’s all here in the hotel’s Farriers restaurant.
For kids, there’s a fully-supervised play room, packed with activities and child-friendly food. Little guests eat for half-price too and toddlers go free.
Fridays, 12.30pm-4pm. AED 305 soft drinks, AED 470 with house beverages. Free for children under four, AED 160 for five to 12 year olds. The Meydan Hotel, Meydan. 04 381 3111.
Dusit Thani, Sheikh Zayed Road
The Friday brunch at the Dusit Thani takes place on the 24th floor among the dizzying spires of the Sheikh Zyed Road. The experience, however, begins in the lobby where we are welcomed by the haunting melody of a live khim (a traditional Thai instrument).
The brunch itself combines buffet and live cooking stations from the hotel’s three principle restaurants. Benjarong supplies the Thai cuisine, PAX brings the modern Italian and The Californian serves up a flourish of international fair.
One of the greatest challenges a buffet brunch faces is balancing variety with quality. The Dusit Thani has potentially uncovered a ‘life-hack’ here by directly channeling food from three independently accomplished kitchens. The Thai food was aromatic and authentic; the green curry was amongst the best we’ve tried in Dubai. The range was impressive: from the perfectly-seared Arabian mixed grill to fresh sushi, hand-prepared ravioli and a serious selection of seafood.
The Dusit Thani holds a good reputation for service and warm hospitality, even from within the heavily-wooded world of five-star hotels in Dubai. The brunch did not disappoint: attentive service, knowledgeable staff and warm smiles throughout. They even host traditional Thai dancing amidst the courses to adds another layer of atmosphere.
With packages under AED 300, it’s also excellent value for money.
Fridays, 12.30pm-4pm. AED 225 soft drinks and from AED 285 with house beverages. Dusit Thani Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road. 04 317 4515.
Fumé, Pier 7
A classy brunch for a reasonable price? We’re left pleasantly surprised by this upmarket choice of comfort food brought straight to our table.
Generous portions from an extensive set menu set this laid back, good-value brunch a step above the rest. We particularly like the lamb chops, Angus beef hamburger and ubiquitous mac and cheese. Smaller plates of fried calamari with chilli sauce and buttermilk chicken nuggets really hit the spot and just when we think we’re full, a rich tiramisu coaxes us into one more spoonful.
Friendly staff are always looking to fill up your cup and bring extra dishes. Fridays at Fumé are busy, but not crowded and it is the perfect place to spend quality time with friends – and kids, who get their own play area – in a relaxed environment.
Fridays, 12pm-4pm. AED 199 including house and mixed beverages. Pier 7, Marina.
Friday Farmers Brunch, Al Forsan, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa
Though the arid UAE land might not lend itself to bounteous options for our table, this is not reflected at the new Friday Farmers Brunch at Bab Al Shams’ Al Forsan restaurant. It is however, not the crops of the soil that satisfy the most at this (loosely) farm-inspired feast, but the fruits of the sea. The offering includes excellent gravlax, fresh mussels in a pot with accompaniments and pink shrimps ceviche in half a coconut.
Do save space for the 18 hours braised BBQ beef ribs and our personal favourite, the savoury waffle on braised beef brisket with a poached egg. To some the mixture of sweet and savoury is a sickly combination, but we relished the calorific compilation.
Many will know Bab Al Shams as a weekend getaway spot, being as it is, just far enough away from the city to escape but near enough not to be a hassle. The brunch certainly feels like a great family escape; a range of activities keep your mini-me in check and a clown bumbles around creating balloon animals, while a miniature pony attracts an excited queue. It’s British village fête Arabian style!
Lastly, when you’ve had your fill don’t forget to join other merry brunch goers taking their turns to lift farm produce in hope of winning lunch, dinner or pool access in the ‘guess the weight’ competition.
Friday, 12.30pm-4pm. AED 365 soft drinks and AED 545 with house beverages. Under fours go free, 50 per cent off for five-12 year olds. 04 809 6100. Al Forsan, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa.
Best Dressed Brunch at Great British Restaurant, Dukes Dubai
A new addition to Dubai’s brunch scene, the Best Dressed brunch offers a huge buffet of quintessentially British fare that’s a treat for fans of seafood.
We pile our plates with meaty king crab legs and freshly-shucked Colchester oysters. If your best bib and tucker allows, head for the deliciously succulent freshly carved roast beef and lamb, served along with perfectly risen crispy Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings.
Those with a sweet tooth will want to pull over at the enticing dessert station featuring a decadent chocolate fountain and sweet treats like miniature tarts. And it’s not British brunch without classic scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream.
Soft drinks AED 310; house beverages AED 415; sparkling AED 465; bubbly AED 695. Fridays from 1pm-4pm. DUKES Hotel on The Palm. 04 455 1101.
Toro Toro at Grosvenor House
Rejoice, meat lovers, the Toro Toro Friday brunch is back. It heralds its arrival with the sound of salsa music, but this food-focused afternoon isn’t all about getting up and dancing.
The majority of the meal is served to our table – this is a brunch people go to for the food. Guacamole made table-side comes with fresh tortilla chips, before we browse a cold buffet of ceviche, tataki and heirloom tomato salad. We particularly enjoy the crispy prawns and the lamb anticucho skewers from hot starters brought to us.
We’re given a red/green card to show the server whether we still have space in our stomachs for mains. After devouring succulent picanha, beef tenderloin, lamb rack chicken and prawns, we don’t think there’s any more room. Then waiter brings us a chocolate sphere filled with eatable flowers, chocolate brownies, strawberries and crispy chocolate pearls.
What happens next is for you to find out but what we can say is that this is a truly spectacular way to finish off this pan-Latin brunch.
Fridays, 12.30pm-4pm. Beverages AED 525, soft drinks AED 375. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina. 04 317 6000.
Local at Tryp by Wyndham
Having a lazy weekend and in need for a proper fry up with all the trimmings? Local at Tryp by Wyndham welcomes you from 11.30am till 2pm with egg and pancake stations, hot and cold buffet, freshly squeezed juices and a hot brew.
All produce is locally grown, making it a very sustainable option for your Saturday morning meal. We are also loving that this lazy brunch is not just for us, but also for four-legged members of the family. Now that the temperatures are much more bearable, dog owners can bring their pets along and enjoy brunch outside at the terrace.
For only AED 92 per person you really have a lot to enjoy and if you bring a jar to recycle with, you only pay AED 75.
Every Saturday. Local at Tryp by Wyndham, Barsha Heights. 04 247 6666. Kids under 10 eat free.
Grand Bazaar brunch at Rüya, Grosvenor House
Rüya is re-launching its popular Friday brunch this September, after Chef Colin Clague’s Turkish Anatolian cuisine was a big hit with diners last season. Live stations serve cold starters, desserts and freshly baked breads, while the main menu satisfies with rib eye, lamb cutlets and grilled sea bream.
Don’t leave without trying the gooey and totally more-ish Two Cheese Pide. If it’s cool enough, bite into it on the terrace with pleasant views over the Marina.
AED 299 for food with soft drinks; AED 399 with house beverages; AED 499 bubbly. Fridays, 12pm-4pm. Grosvenor House, Al Sufouh Road. 04 3999 123.
Everyone’s go-to luxury brunch. Regulars know the score – Japanese dishes done very well, with a fantastic spread of sushi, sashimi and robata and superb à la carte options.
The award-winning restaurant ends its Friday offering on a sweet note with a “deluxe dessert display” of banana cake and yuzu tart with soya milk ice cream.
AED 225 for kids under 12; AED 450 soft drinks package; AED 595 house beverages; AED 655 bubbly. Fridays, 12.30pm-4pm. Gate Village 06, DIFC. 04 425 5660
Dubai Week dined as guests of the venues. Prices have been updated where possible but may have increased due to VAT – please check with the venues.