Al Qasr One of Dubai’s largest brunches, the terrace overlooking Madinat Jumeirah’s waterways is a great choice in the cooler months. That said, indoors is also pleasant and suitably luxurious. Food stations are positioned at every turn, with Arabic, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Japanese, Indian, Spanish, German and British dishes all available, along with barbecued meats, cold and hot seafood, cheeses and a whole array of desserts, sweets and fruit. Soft drinks and sparkling grape are topped up by an army of staff, in addition to a variety of drinks stations conveniently positioned throughout the sprawling venue. There’s a live band, but the space is so large most diners won’t hear them, and instead enjoy music that’s played through speakers. This is quite a dressy affair with an infectious buzz and definite sense of excitement in the air. Expect everyone from families with toddlers to tourists in search of a quintessential Dubai experience and larger groups celebrating special occasions. Dhs475 (with soft drinks), Dhs575 (with bubbly, mixed beverages, grape and soft drinks), Dhs795 (with premium bubbly), Dhs250 (children aged four-12 years). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 8888).
Bubbalicious This huge brunch, covering multiple venues, allows you to take your pick from bright and airy, intimate and less ostentatious or even al fresco – whatever takes your fancy. Three restaurants join forces to dish up almost every food imaginable. Among others, there’s a sizeable sushi station, a cheese section, oyster bar, live Asian cooking stations, seafood galore, plenty of steaks and Brit grub, plus a huge dessert section with a dedicated chocolate table. In addition to the expected house beverages, there are various mixed drinks stations dotted around the venue, and the lemon fountain is truly a sight to behold. You also won’t be short on entertainment, because there’s a three-piece band belting out popular hits, an outdoor petting zoo for the kids (during the cooler months), a magician and even a group of gawp-inducing acrobats. Altogether, Bubbalicious is a good choice for families and doesn’t get as rowdy as some rival brunches. Dhs390 (with soft drinks), Dhs490 (with sparkling grape), Dhs650 (with bubbly), Dhs190 (children aged six-12 years), free (children under six). Fri 1pm-4pm. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, Al Sufouh Road (04 399 4141).
Mina A’Salam Three of the hotel’s restaurants, connected via walkways over the Madinat Jumeirah waterways, come together to form this opulent yet not over the top Friday brunch extravaganza. You can expect everything from seafood and sushi to Arabic salads, mezze, Chinese fare, a carvery and full English breakfasts. Food stations also line the walkways between restaurants, and the outdoor terrace hosts a barbecue, shawarma station and fish and chip counters. Mixed drinks, grape and bubbly are served at your table and you can pick up a colourful slushy beverage from any of the drinks stations on the walkways. The sounds of a live singer, played on speakers throughout each venue, keeps crowds entertained without being intrusive or overbearing. Despite its size, the brunch is surprisingly relaxed, and the setting gives it a holiday vibe that’s also popular with families. Dhs395 (with soft drinks), Dhs525 (with house beverages), Dhs250 (children aged four-12 years). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 8888).
Saffron Located in Atlantis, this brunch is like going to a packed club in the middle of the day. The venue’s sheer size and high ceilings, as well as the DJ pumping commercial classics, all heighten this ambiance, and although it’s not particularly classy, it’s undoubtedly somewhere to go to let your hair down and just celebrate. There’s a huge variety of food, with everything from South East Asian noodles and South Asian curries, to Chinese dumplings and massive roast dinners, while fresh seafood is the restaurant’s specialty. The drinks selection is just as varied, with numerous counters dotted around the venue serving everything from cans of hops and mini bottles of bubbly to mixed beverages and slices of pineapple stabbed with liquid-filled eye-droppers. You’re unlikely to find many better venues if you’re after somewhere to go in a large group to party. The downside is that some of the food isn’t quite as high quality as other brunches in a similar price bracket. Dhs485 (with soft drinks and house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Spectrum on One There’s a welcome, lively atmosphere at this popular brunch, although it can get a little cramped in the small dining area. The South East Asian, Indian and Japanese food options are fantastic, while the Arabic and seafood spreads are a little lacklustre. Make sure you don’t miss the cheese room or the cold cuts station, which both have an impressive selection. Another must-try is the crêpe station; it’s definitely worth enduring the long queues for these fantastic desserts. Unfortunately, it’s not just this station that suffers from delays, with service quite slow across the board. Drinks are available in several different packages and the midrange one will get you everything except bubbly. It’s a brunch that tends to attract a slightly more mature crowd, if you don’t count all the toddlers there with families. Dhs345 (with soft drinks), Dhs455 (with selected beverages), Dhs575 (with bubbly), Dhs670 (with pink bubbly), free (kids aged under five). Fri noon-3.30pm. Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 311 8316).
The Thai Kitchen We’re big fans of the Park Hyatt’s low-rise blue and white Moroccan-style buildings, elegant interiors and, best of all, waterside location with views onto the marina and shimmering Creek. Rather than a buffet, Thai Kitchen’s approach involves waves of small taster-style dishes served to the table, so you simply sit back and let the delicious food arrive. Expect Thai classics such as som tum, fish cakes, crispy spring rolls, chicken green curry, stir-fried beef and pad Thai noodles, plus other interesting dishes like spicy pomello salad, chicken in pandan leaf and a version of sesame prawn toast. Most dishes have at least a bit of fire to them, so if you can’t take your spice, this brunch may not be for you. The feast finally ends on a sweet note, with the Thai classic of sticky rice and mango. Three drinks packages are available, and while the selection isn’t huge, you can’t really complain given the relatively low prices, and staff do their best to keep you topped up. It’s an easy-going, laidback affair that should suit just about everyone. Dhs240 (with soft drinks), Dhs299 (with grape and hops), Dhs375 (with sparkling grape). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
Traiteur Easily ranked among the best brunches you’ll have the pleasure of experiencing in Dubai, Traiteur’s unique approach sees diners brush shoulders with the chefs as they make their way through the open kitchen, helping themselves to an exquisite selection of dishes. Start with delightful morsels that include smoked duck, tuna tartare, crème brûlée pâté and freshly shucked oysters, then move on to cuts of meat, spit roasts, seafood skewers and barbecued lobster, accompanied by various salads and French-style vegetables. There’s also a sizeable cheese table and a dessert room featuring made-to-order crêpes, cakes, chocolates and more. But it’s not just the high-quality food that makes the Traiteur brunch stand out; it’s also the tasteful surroundings and sophisticated yet laidback atmosphere, pleasantly lacking any air of exclusivity you might expect and thus attracting the full spectrum of brunchers. Service is swift, friendly and the right side of inconspicuous, making for a hugely enjoyable afternoon of feasting. Dhs465 (with soft drinks), Dhs570 (with sparkling grape, hops and grape), Dhs690 (with bubbly), Dhs2,998 (with premium bubbly, limo pick-up and drop-off, plus a gift from the hotel’s boutique patisserie), Dhs180 (children aged six-12 years). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
Yalumba Yalumba is generally light and airy with plenty of space to dance once the feeling takes you (the free-flowing bubbly pretty much guarantees it will). Most people head outside to the spacious, dance-off-worthy patio and bar area, when the weather permits. As for food, you can choose from à la carte or the buffet – there’s a huge selection with everything ranging from sushi to sea bass, pastries to meat and a huge array of desserts including the obligatory chocolate fountain and even a candy-floss machine. Drinks-wise, most people stick to the bubbly on offer; there are three decent brands from which to choose. All of this attracts a dressy, up-for-it, more mature party crowd, helped along by a DJ spinning current chart and retro tunes that are guaranteed to get the ladies (and some of the men) up on the dancefloor. Expect raucousness. Dhs499 (with selected beverages). Fri 12.30pm-3.30pm. Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud (04 702 2328).
Zuma Sophisticated, distinctly Japanese and oozing style, the venue is in keeping with DIFC’s business-like demeanour. It’s therefore not the place to come for a raucous party, but is perfect for classier affairs. Brunch at Zuma is also a great chance to enjoy some of the finest sushi and sashimi in all the land, or at least in all of Dubai. Diners order their mains à la carte and help themselves from two buffet stations. Food isn’t piled up in the familiar eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach manner but instead presented in small, appetising batches that are restocked as required. Drinks include delicious ‘cleansers’ (chilled tea, juice and fruit combinations), premium drinks and a range of Japanese rice-based beverages. With a rather strict elegant dress code, this is less of a party and more a fine-dining brunch, resulting in a slightly more mature crowd. But kids are welcome and even have their own play area. Dhs345 (with soft drinks), Dhs495 (with selected house beverages), Dhs600 (with bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-3.30pm. Gate Village, DIFC (04 425 5660).