Venues which go the extra mile to keep your youngsters satisfied
Winner – Best Family Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014
Bookmunch Café Bookmunch Café is a blink and you’ll miss it venue, but once you’re inside it’s a whole other story. Small but perfectly laid out, it’s an eclectic arrangement of colourful comfy sofas, traditional wooden tables and chairs and artistic displays of home-made cakes and pastries. The walls are adorned with some great books for both kids and adults and there’s even a cute story reading section under a canopy for the little ones. The menu is average-sized but impressive, offering everything from soups and sandwiches, to burgers, salads and all-day breakfast. If you go for the breakfast option, you’ll get to choose from a hearty selection including fresh pancakes, omelettes and muffins. Great service combined with good food makes this a café worth searching out. Open Sun-Thu, 7.30am-10pm, Fri-Sat, 8am-10.30pm. Al Wasl Square, www.bookmunchcafe.com (04 388 4006).
Highly Commended – Best Family Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014
Beachcombers Parked on the shore of Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Beachcombers is a pan-Asian buffet restaurant geared mainly towards families and holidaymakers in Dubai. With an emphasis on their name and location, the decor is rustic with lots of dark wood panelling, a faux straw roof and elbow-height windows to give the impression of being in a beach shack. There are indoor and outdoor seating options, the latter facing the beach and the impressive Burj Al Arab. The buffet is comprehensive, offering a variety of dishes to keep everyone happy. You’ll find a live satay station, fresh noodles, battered vegetables, countless curries and desserts, to name but a few. Our top tip is the Asian chicken, which is particularly moreish and worthy of a few trips to the buffet. Service is efficient and friendly, with the chefs at the various stands offering to tailor dishes to your liking. Open daily 7.30am-11.30pm. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim (04 406 8999).
Highly Commended – Best Family Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014
More Café Tucked away in Gold and Diamond Park, this branch of More Cafe is probably one of their biggest. The spacious, open plan design is both welcoming and comfortable, with a good mixture of couples and families in attendance. When you sample the food, you’ll start to understand why this place always has customers. The English breakfast is a hearty serving of eggs, beef bacon, mushrooms, baked beans and freshly brewed coffee. If you’re after something a bit lighter, then try the eggs option - three eggs cooked how you like with delicious home-made bread. Meals are always well-presented, tasty and generous in size, with extra home-made bread offered at no extra cost, which is a nice touch. Service is also pleasant, with the staff fast, efficient and friendly, especially when it comes to helping customers with small children. Open daily 7am-6pm. Gold & Diamond Park, www.morecafe.co (04 323 4350).
Cafe Ceramique Cafe Ceramique is a family-friendly eatery that serves up reasonable food along with ceramic painting activities for kids and adults in a relaxed setting. Although not extensive by any means, the menu offers up dishes that are tasty and filling, if a little too fussy in places. The chicken quesadillas are particularly good and on just the right side of spicy, as is the grilled beef, once it has been disassembled from the artistic pile on the plate. If you have little ones, then you’ll be pleased with their rather good kids menu. The service is attentive but can be slightly inefficient with certain requests. Overall, a good option for decent food in a relaxed atmosphere that’s not too hard on the pocket – the kids can run riot too and no one will bat an eyelid. Open daily 9am-midnight. Town Centre, Jumeirah, www.cafeceramique.ae (04 344 7331).
Crumbs Elysee Crumbs Elysee is a spacious and airy café-cum-bakery. You can choose to sit outside, but during the cooler months the doors are often open, meaning you’ll get to enjoy the al fresco experience wherever you sit. If you wind up here in the morning, then the breakfasts won’t disappoint. Both the Early Bird and The Big Breakfast hit the mark, and both are generous in portions. The Crumbs Bread Basket is another highlight – it basically gives you the chance to sample miniature versions of what’s on offer at the bakers. If you have kids in tow, then Crumbs Elysee provides the perfect setting. The kids’ menu doubles up as a colouring book, and their food will arrive first. Service is also speedy and efficient, with an obvious focus on patrons dining with kids; you’ll likely see many families in attendance. Your wallet will be happy with the experience, too. Open daily 6am-8pm. Al Thanya Street, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.crumbselysee.com (04 346 8899).
Jamie’s Italian Before you even step through the door, the hype around celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s only Dubai restaurant sets almost unrealistic expectations. The menu also doesn’t help, with names such as ‘World’s Best Olives On Ice’ and ‘My Amazing Chicken Salad’ adding to the belief that this is going to be something extra special. And while the food is good and hearty, with the occasional standout, it falls short of being exceptional. The fried three-cheese gnocchi starter with a spicy arrabbiata dip is perfect; the crunchy texture, mature cheeses and slight kick from the sauce make for a moreish delight. But the main courses are a bit bland. The pappardelle and meatballs in a tomato and basil sauce is a slightly stodgy and unadventurous dish, while the aforementioned ‘amazing chicken salad’ lacks the flavour to make it last long in the memory. As an occasion, though, Jamie’s Italian still delivers. Staff are welcoming and attentive, and the loft-style decor and bench seating are ideal for a relaxed night out with friends. Open Sat-Wed noon-11pm, Thu-Fri noon-midnight. Marina Promenade, Dubai Festival City, www.jamieoliver.com/italian/dubai (04 232 9969).
Jones the grocer You’ll always be sure of a warm welcome and good meal any time of the day at Jones the Grocer, the Australian gourmet outlet. The breakfast menu is by no means extensive but well appointed, offering a full English breakfast, omelettes cooked to your liking as well as fresh fruit, granola and pastry options. The service is very friendly, fast and efficient, with a particular emphasis on making young couples with children feel comfortable. The full English breakfast and mushroom omelettes are delicious and well-presented, if a little large in the portion size, and nicely complemented by freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice and a hot-out-of-the-oven bread basket. Open Sun-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm. Al Manara, Sheikh Zayed Road, opposite Times Square Center, www.jonesthegrocer.com (04 346 6886).
Shakespeare and Co It’s hard to concentrate at Shakespeare and Co as its distracting decor, complete with vintage furniture and trinkets, commands attention, with everything from the menus to the lampshades featuring a signature Victorian touch. If you can look past the fridges bustling with pretty, pastel coloured sorbets alongside displays of attractive homemade ice-cream, you’ll discover a promising menu offering soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, burgers and heartier dishes, such as the tender and delicious lamb shank, served with veggies and rice. While it can be difficult to get their attention, the staff aim to woo, especially when serving tea with a performance, holding cups at a great distance from the teapot to show off their skills. Try to keep room for dessert; although the full range is not on the menu, take your pick from the patisserie at the entrance. The chocolate éclair and caramelised puff pastry both pack a punch. Open daily 7am-1am. Marina Mall, www.shakespeareandco.ae (04 457 4199).
The Lime Tree Café A Kiwi concept café located in the heart of Jumeirah 1, Lime Tree is a busy, bustling spot popular with families, couples and large groups of friends. There is no set or physical menu to look at - all the food options are displayed in huge glass cabinets, and clearly labelled, beside the cashier desk. You queue to order, choosing from a range of salads, sandwiches, or heartier options, pay at the cashier and receive a number to display on your table where the staff then deliver it. Service is friendly, super quick and very efficient and the food equally impressive. The halloumi and couscous salad is a standout; the portion size is perfect and the ingredients fresh and tasty. Another great dish is the mouth-watering New Zealand beef ciabatta sandwich. The desserts are a bit hit-and-miss, though. If you go for the chocolate brownie, expect a taste explosion, but the chocolate sand dune cake is slightly bland. Open daily 7.30am-6pm. Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, www.thelimetreecafe.com (04 349 8498).