If brunches were an Olympic sport, Dubai would definitely be the gold medal winner.
We’ve rounded up a list of 11 favourite weekend feasts, tried and tested by us, to suit hungry families, peckish party animals, epicureans with an appetite.
Words: Vanisha Rajesh
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 275 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. Packages: Delicato (AED 295) inclusive of a welcome mocktail and soft beverages; Artigianale (AED 395) with selected grape, house beverages and a welcome drink; Bollicine (AED 445) bubbles and a welcome drink. 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 per person with soft drinks, AED 470 with house beverages. Free for children under four, AED 160 for five to 12. 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 including 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.
Al Forsan, Bab Al Shams. Friday, 12.30pm-4pm. AED 365 per person with soft drinks and AED 545 per person with house beverages. Under fours go free, 50 per cent off for five-12 year olds. 04 809 6100
Best Dressed Brunch at Great British Restaurant, Dukes Dubai
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, sparking AED 465 and 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. Selected beverages AED 525, soft drinks AED 375. Grosvenor House Dubai. 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.
Start from AED 299 for food with soft drinks, AED 399 with house beverage, and AED 499 inclusive of bubbly. Fridays, 12am-4pm. Grosvenor House, Al Sufouh Road. 04 3999 123.
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 and 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.