Plenty of new options to keep the fun running all weekend
Time Out Dubai staff
New Saturday and evening brunches Who says you need to have all the fun of the fair on Fridays only? As more and more restaurants deliver eat and drink deals on Saturdays, weekdays and evenings, we decided it was time to road test all the newer offerings in town. Here we’ve anonymously dined at nine newer Saturday and weekend packages, giving you honest and unbiased feedback on what to expect. Click forward to see our new Saturday and evening brunch reviews
360° Evening Brunch One of the prettiest brunches around with stunning views and sophisticated bites
The venue: Located at the end of Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s marina walkway, 360° is one of the most impressive locations in the city. With views of the Arabian Gulf, the Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah’s beaches and the Burj Al Arab, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better spot. Inside, the lounge is decorated in hues of purple and white, with giant sofas overflowing with cushions and floor-to-ceiling windows to ensure you don’t miss the sunset views. The food: Expect an Asian-inspired à la carte menu with a strong seafood focus. Staff will bring each of the dishes listed and you can request more of any you particularly like, or skip any you don’t like the sound of. Think miso soup, sushi, fish casserole and tasty dim sum, as well as a platter of mini-desserts to round things off. The drinks: A colourful welcome mixed drink, served in a giant volumetric flask, is a novel way to kick-start proceedings. And then the choice is extensive, with sparkling, grape, hops and house beverages all included. Staff are also happy to make any of your fave mixed drinks. The crowd: One of the places to go to be seen. It’s a popular spot to watch the sun go down, so even if brunch itself isn’t packed, there will always be a great atmosphere upstairs in the bar area. A wide mix of guests with couples, tourists, groups and after-work revellers make up the majority. The dress code: Unsurprisingly glamorous with a hint of beach-chic. Sundresses, heels or maxis for the ladies, while men are nicely turned out in button-down shirts and jeans. The service: Staff are friendly and accommodating and the manager is quick to welcome guests. There’s no rush to finish drinks before the allocated brunch time, and you’ll get plenty of notice before last orders. Highs & lows: The location is unbeatable and the music is spot-on; the perfect soundtrack to the sun setting on another week. The drinks selection is also fantastic. On the downside, you may struggle if you’re not a seafood fan. And if you have dietary requirements, it’s best to state them more than once, as they aren’t always clearly communicated to the chefs. The entertainment: Resident DJ Tristan Bain plays a mix of tracks ranging from chill-out house and a few old-school favourites to funky dance ideal for a little post-brunch dancing. The after party: Head upstairs for one of the most popular Thursday evenings in the city. Just note that with such a prime location, drinks aren’t cheap.
40Kong Brunch Fantastic tunes, delicious drinks and unrivalled views make this a glam affair
The venue: With its own entrance and elevator to the 38th floor, a hostess awaits guests and escorts them up the remaining two floors in a private glass lift. The rooftop bar has a sophisticated vibe, furnished in natural browns, oranges and greens and decorated with various topiary. There are also amazing views of the World Trade Centre, Jumeirah and Sheikh Zayed Road.
The food: A limited selection from the regular menu is on offer – think breakfast fare, a couple of mains such as grilled chicken, mini-burgers, risotto and signature seafood spaghetti, with no dessert choices and limited options for vegetarians. Presentation is excellent and everything is of good quality, although as the day goes on less and less is available from the already limited menu. The drinks: These totally overshadow the food menu, so take your time choosing and rest assured that no matter what you go for, you won’t be disappointed. There are also some unique mixed drinks like the Planet of the Apes or the Dusk Till Dawn. The crowd: Brunchers are glamorous and cool, and the venue seems to be very popular with Lebanese guests. It’s a good spot for groups of friends or couples, but not a place to take kids or visiting parents. It’s also more of a chill out and enjoy the music kind of venue than a raucous knees-up. The dress code: Despite this being a day-time brunch in a rooftop bar with no indoor shelter, the dress code is strictly elegant. Girls go all out, in dresses, heels and big hair while the men look stylish (but sweltering) in shirts and jeans.
The service: Slightly inconsistent. Expect to meet some of the fastest, friendliest servers in the city, including the manager, as well as a few bewildered, forgetful staff. Highs & lows: The venue is lovely and the views are spectacular. The majority of the staff are super-friendly and efficient, and the DJ gets it just right. The major low is that it’s not strictly a brunch. With a minimum spend and individually priced dishes and drinks, it’s just an earlier opening for this sunset bar.
The Entertainment: Spinning tracks that expertly fit the vibe, while coolly grooving along, resident DJ Trix lives up to the publicised promises of taking guests ‘on an audio-journey’. The after party: Evening guests arrive just after 5pm and things continue all night.
Minimum spend Dhs400 per person (drinks and food individually priced). Sat 1pm-6pm. The H Hotel, One Sheikh Zayed Road, www.40kong.com (04 355 8896).
Best for: chilled-out brunch 3.5/5
Dim sum at Hong Loong Enjoy unlimited dim sum at the Sofitel Dubai The Palm’s Chinese offering
The venue: This intimate restaurant features a sleek dark wood interior incorporating traditional bursts of red, a glass-encased open kitchen and large windows letting in plenty of natural light, with a view of the ocean in the distance. The venue feels cosy and relaxed and is popular with families, groups and couples.
The food: The dim sum arrives in bamboo steamers, brought to the table by hand rather than on a trolley, and is served in three rounds – steamed dumplings, succulent chicken feet, various wet and dry noodle dishes and then a selection of sweet dumplings. Some of the dumplings arrived cold, but overall it’s a very welcome addition to Dubai’s dim sum scene.
The drinks: The brunch includes selected house drinks, including hops-based beverages, grape and mixed drinks, as well as unlimited tea and soft drinks.
The crowd: Expect young families with small children, couples and groups of friends. The dress code: Smart casual.
The service: Staff are friendly, although we’ve found that at peak times larger groups have to wait quite a while to receive their food, with staff having to be reminded on occasions.
Highs & lows: We’d go back for the sticky chicken feet every week, but we’re a little miffed that some of the steamers arrived cold, and were not served on a traditional trolley. The entertainment: None to speak of – it’s a Saturday brunch, so the atmosphere is more relaxed. The after party: Retreat to the beach or pool bar, head home for a nap or have a few sundowners elsewhere on the Palm – there are lots of options.
Dhs150 (with tea and soft drinks), Dhs240 (with selected beverages). Sat 12.30pm-2.30pm. Sofitel Dubai The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 9300).
Best for: one for everyone 4/5
Friday Double Brunch A family-friendly, chilled-out evening brunch at Nosh
The venue: Nosh’s brunch accommodates anyone really – in fact, it seems to have a bit of a split personality, with one half of the venue seemingly designated to families while the other half, nearer the bar, hosts more of a party crowd. The space is bright and airy with a small patio outside for those who prefer to dine al fresco.
The food: The selection isn’t huge, but the standard of everything on offer is perfectly adequate. Expect to find a small sushi station (a bit too small for our liking), oysters, some Thai, Indian and Chinese main dishes, plenty of salads, Arabic classics and a big bread counter, as well as a colourful dessert station complete with the obligatory chocolate fountain.
The drinks: A decent enough range and some very popular frozen mixed beverages for those looking to kick-start a party evening.
The crowd: A good mix with families occupying the quieter end of the restaurant and some of Dubai’s dolled-up party crowd mingling closer to the bar.
The dress code: Again, it’s a mixed bag; ladies won’t be out of place in a party dress and heels, but will also be just as happy in jeans and flats. The service: One of the highlights, service is friendly and accommodating. Highs & lows: The lightly fried salted fish is exceptional and the friendly service keeps everything running smoothly.
The entertainment: There is no specific entertainment on offer, but you will find lively music and plenty of happy chatter. The after party: UBK is in the same hotel and is always good for a party. For something rowdier, McGettigan’s JLT is a short walk away and never fails to be packed on Fridays.
Dhs190 (with soft drinks), Dhs299 (with selected beverages), Dhs520 (with bubbly), Dhs95 (children aged six-12 years), free (children aged under six years). Fri 6.30pm-10.30pm, Mövenpick Hotel, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 438 0000). Best for: anyone and everyone 3/5
L’Afternoon at Supperclub Dubai Elegant, interesting food in a chic club setting
The venue: Inside, Supperclub Dubai is a stylish nightclub setting. All white and all decorated in the crispest of clean lines, there is little in the way of fussy adornment in the dining room, with only an open kitchen, DJ and chrome-trapeze frame hanging from the ceiling to divert your attention from the food.
The food: A set menu of sharing plates arrives at the table. The dishes are conceived with a tone of modern European, with a few little Arabian twists, and dishes are largely well prepared and interesting. The modern Arabic-inspired starter plate of cucumber, pomegranate labneh and zaatar is a standout.
The drinks: The beverage package costs a staggering 100 percent more than the cost of food alone. However, there is a decent amount of choice, with sparkling Italian grape, ‘sorbet’ flavoured shooters, carafes of exotic fruit mixed drinks and more.
The crowd: On our particular visit, there were not many other brunchers. However, the tone is generally welcoming of a slickly-dressed and well-to-do party crowd
The dress code: Smart casual.
The service: Service is one of the strong points of this Saturday brunch, with wait staff uniformly friendly and obliging. Highs & lows: While the food and service stand out as strong in their own right, for an overall brunch experience, they are dragged down by the lack of ambiance and the absence of any signature Supperclub entertainment taking place.
The entertainment: There’s a DJ playing chilled-out party tracks. However, there is no other entertainment. The after party: There is no official ‘after party’ option, although it has to be said that servers at Supperclub are quite happy to let you stay a while longer than the allocated brunch time to finish your beverages before continuing the afternoon.
Positano Spend a chilled-out Sunday evening sampling fine Italian cuisine
The venue: The JW Marriott Marquis’ spacious coastal Italian restaurant, is a bright and airy venue for a laidback Sunday evening brunch. Despite being in the world’s tallest hotel, Positano is on the second floor, so there’s no view to speak of, yet the decor is fresh and inviting. With soft background music and the low hum of conversation, it’s a relaxed venue for a brunch that’s more about the food and a casual catch up than a raucous knees-up.
The food: Fans of traditional Italian food will be delighted with the live cooking stations. Fresh pasta of your choice is prepared by skilled chefs and delivered to your table. Pizza can also be ordered freshly baked, with a range of toppings available. Seafood lovers can choose from a range of high quality ingredients, such as lobster, tiger prawns and mussels, which can be prepared in a number of ways. There’s also a substantial selection of cured meats and cheeses, as well as a very impressive dessert room.
The drinks: If you opt for the basic package, you’ll have a choice of all the regular soft drinks, but nothing out of the ordinary. There’s a good selection of grape with the slightly more expensive house beverage package.
The crowd: With its quiet atmosphere, this brunch seems to appeal more to couples and groups of friends looking for some quality Italian food, or guests staying in the hotel. Being a Sunday night, it’s not really a party brunch.
The dress code: Positano’s dress code is casual, but considering that it’s in the glam JW Marriott Marquis, it’s best not to take this too literally.
The service: The service is one of the standouts at this brunch. While perusing the buffet, the chefs will happily take time out to explain what certain dishes are and what is on offer at the live cooking stations. They’re also jovial in their work, while providing efficient and prompt service. Highs & lows: The freshly cooked pasta dishes are delicious, as is the seafood. The staff, too, are excellent. It’s also great value for money, considering the brunch lasts for six hours. However, while most of the food is great, the main course meat options are a bit uninspiring. The entertainment: There’s no entertainment at Positano during brunch, just quiet background music. The after party: Your options may be a bit limited considering that it’s a Sunday night, but upstairs Vault is open until 3am, while the various nightspots of downtown Dubai are just a short taxi ride away.
Dhs180 (with soft drinks), Dhs290 (with house beverages). Sun 6pm-midnight. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay, www.jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com (04 414 3000). Best for: post-weekend brunch 4/5
Pure Sunset Brunch at Pure Sky Lounge Swish rooftop brunch with a selection of small bites and stunning sunset views
The venue: Located on the 35th floor of the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, Pure Sky Lounge is the perfect spot for evening brunch. Watch the sun set over the shimmering Arabian Gulf while you enjoy funky house and chill-out tunes in stylish ultra-white, moody low-lit surroundings. There’s a bit of a nautical theme outside with a smooth sweeping bar and huge sun shades billowing overhead, much like the sails of a yacht.
The food: No herding around cooking stations and buffets here – it’s strictly table service. Refreshingly, a selection of marinated meats, fish and small bites as well as short-glass proportioned desserts are served in satisfying but sensible portion sizes, devoid of any of the typical gluttony normally associated with brunching.
The drinks: There’s a decent enough selection and we particularly liked the Heinz Fizzle, which contains cherry tomato and fresh watermelon chunks.
The crowd: This place attracts a mixture of varying groups, couples and age ranges, as well as a few rowdier brunching tables. Not one for little ones.
The dress code: The official dress code is casual, but on our last visit, the ladies were looking fairly glam.
The service: Service is a high point, with friendly and attentive staff who are knowledgeable enough to confidently make suggestions.
Highs & lows: The relaxed, informal atmosphere and gorgeous sunset views are a high. The only low we can think of is that, while presentation of food is great, the quality of some of the dishes doesn’t quite match up; a little improvement here would go a long way.
The entertainment: Very well chosen chill-out and funky house tunes – perfect for that sunset vibe. The after party: There’s no need to leave, as the tunes continue till the small hours. If you’re craving a change of scenery, try BicE Sky Bar in the same hotel or head to one of the many watering holes in the vicinity of JBR.
Dhs200 (with soft drinks), Dhs350 (with house beverages). Fri 5.30pm-9.30pm. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Residences, The Walk, JBR (04 374 7888).
Best for: chilled-out brunch 4/5
Spanish Saturdays A bit of a hit-and-miss Spanish affair at El Sur
The venue: Set within the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, at the site of the former Senyar bar, this Spanish eatery boasts sleek, modern interiors and a modestly-sized terrace.
The food: Diners are treated to a lengthy procession of classic tapas such as gambas al ajillo (prawns with garlic), calamari and patatas bravas, to name but a few – all of which go down nicely with a glass of classic red or white Spanish mixed drink. While the food delivery can be a little ill-timed (on our visit, the paella main was served while two starter tapas were still almost untouched on the table), it’s nothing diners can’t prevent with a little forewarning to the staff that they don’t want all their food in the first hour.
The drinks: Hops, grape and premium drinks, as well as classic Spanish mixed beverages – including a delicious white version with apple.
The crowd: Drawing families, couples and even hen parties, this end-of-the-weekend event attracts a diverse crowd, though nothing too raucous.
The dress code: We recommend something chic and sophisticated (but not OTT), to match the surroundings. The service: Service is friendly, if a little headstrong. If you want a break from the flow of food, you may need to make your request clear several times.
Highs & lows: The tapas is superb and varied, but the paella (on our visit at least) was very greasy and lacking in flavour.
The entertainment: Despite the promise of flamenco music, what actually comes through the speakers borders on house, which jarred a little with the Mediterranean vibe offered up by the rest of the experience. The after party: Head to Barasti in neighbouring Le Méridien Mina Seyahi for sundowners on the beach.
Dhs195 (with soft drinks), Dhs295 (with house beverages). Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm. Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Umm Suqeim, www.elsurdubai.com (04 399 7700).
Best for: chilled-out brunch 3/5
Yum Cha Brunch A laidback Saturday brunch enhanced by complimentary pool and beach access
The venue: Fairmont The Palm’s Chinese restaurant, Bã, is a light, airy space with a tasteful interior of blacks and yellows, and large windows looking out onto the beach. There’s also the option to dine outdoors on the terrace, to get you even closer to the sand.
The food: Brunchers can choose from a selection of dishes split into five courses – soups, appetisers, dim sum, mains and dessert – with the option of reordering as much as they please. The coconut-y Malaysian laksa noodle soup is full of flavour, and starters such as the green papaya salad and chilled lotus root salad with edamame and mushroom are a success. The dim sum, which you’d expect to be the main event, are a little disappointing though, as are the mains, being mostly deep-fried and, on our visit, over-salted. Things improve with dessert, with the mochi ice creams and sticky rice with mango proving hits.
The drinks: Three packages are available, offering a decent if slightly limited selection of just two mocktails as part of the soft drinks package and two mixed drinks as part of the house beverages package. That said, what is available is very good.
The crowd: Having launched only two months ago, don’t expect a huge crowd – just a mix of groups of friends, the odd family and a scattering of couples. A large proportion of brunchers on our visit seemed to be staying at the hotel. The dress code: Casual. The brunch includes beach access, so you’re fine showing up in flip-flops and shorts. The service: Based on our experience, service needs improvement, with repeated mix-ups in terms of dietary requirements and failure on the staff’s part to properly address these. With the venue half full, staff were hardly run off their feet, so we’d expect better. Highs & lows: The aforementioned laksa is a tasty start to the meal and the kaffir lime mocktail is a delicious, refreshing drink. Service was, however, an obvious low point and we’d prefer a larger and superior dim sum selection. The entertainment: Complimentary pool and beach access adds great value and really makes this brunch stand out – without it, we would have left a tad disappointed.
The after party: The hotel puts on a post-brunch party by the pool with lounge-y tunes spun by DJ Jason Kabuki or Ilona from 4pm to 6pm.
Dhs225 (with mocktails, juices and soft drinks), Dhs395 (with signature mixed drinks, grape and hops), Dhs550 (with beach cabana (minimum two people) and a bottle of bubbly). All packages include beach and pool access. Sat noon-4pm. Bã Restaurant & Lounge, Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.dineatba.com (04 457 3338).