15 of the fanciest brunches you have to try at least once in Dubai
Toro Toro The Friday ‘Hola Hola’ brunch is a refined experience. Flavoursome Latin American food from the kitchen of Mexican celebrity chef Richard Sandoval includes tortilla chips with a deliciously fresh guacamole, and skewers of juicy, tender beef to start. Guests can order as much of these as they desire, until the main churrasco course is served traffic light-style. Cards – red on one side, green on the other – let waiters pacing the venue with skewers of barbecued meats know when to carve you some and when to stop. Staff are attentive and so keen to serve, they can miss the traffic light system, which is a shame, since everything else about the brunch is very good indeed – great to show off to visitors. Dhs350 (soft drinks). Dhs500 (selected beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Tower Two, Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000).
Gaucho A swish restaurant decked out in cowhide and black and white leather, Gaucho certainly looks the business. It specialises in South American food, but the Argentinian steaks are what draw in the customers. The brunch is not a party offering. It’s civilized and can be pretty quiet. You sit at your own table and can order as many starters as you like, followed by a choice of main courses, then unlimited desserts. The menu isn’t huge, but what is available is delicious. Homemade breads with fresh guacamole and chimichurri are tasty and fresh and the tuna ceviche is perfect. Starters include beef short ribs, grilled prawns, breaded calamari and two types of empanadas (chicken and sweetcorn). The meat and fish is all wonderful, but the sauces and accompaniments lift them to another level – you’ll be sure to manage more than one plate of these. For the main course try the Lomo (fillet and churrasco) – the steak is tasty and tender, while the marinated spiral cut is packed with flavour from a garlic, parsley and olive oil marinade. Desserts are also good – but your mouth will still be watering from the meat. A relaxed, romantic brunch, one for the foodies and meat lovers. Dhs320 (unlimited soft drinks), Dhs395 (house beverages), Dhs495 (sparking grape). Fri noon-4pm. Gate Village, Building 5, DIFC (04 422 7898).
Hakkasan Flagrantly chic Chinese restaurant-lounge-bar Hakkasan offers a dim sum brunch which, food-wise, is everything you’d expect; a fresh take on traditional dumplings blending tastes old and new – such as shu mai topped with roe – served with panache and as beautiful to taste as to gaze at. A largely à la carte affair, every table can choose just four steamed and four fried dim sum dishes – it works out as just one serving/dumpling of each per person – plus one main course each. Not a feast for sure, however hungry diners can load up on extras from the live roast duck and beef dumpling stations, and there’s an impressive range of desserts to close. Despite loud house beats the overall effect is more that of a set menu than a brunch, and if we have a niggle, including tea but not water in the basic package seems a little misguided. But the tastes are hard to fault. For dim sum lovers at least, it’s well worth a look. Dhs199 (unlimited teas). Dhs398 (mixed drinks). Dhs558 (bubbly). Fri noon-4pm. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 384 8484).
Mina A’Salam This brunch incorporates three restaurants – Al Muna, Zheng He’s and Tortuga – with more food and drink stations dotted along the canal side. There’s an excellent dim sum and duck pancake stand and another with deliciously spicy pulled beef sliders. On our recent visit, the British-style fish and chips were disappointing – slightly greasy, with cold chips – as was the children’s area, tucked under the stairs. Service started well, with staff fetching a highchair and cutlery for the baby without prompting, but coffee and later drinks orders took some time to arrive. The cheese room in Tortuga is a highlight – the deliciously creamy Coulommier is set off nicely by excellent smoked beef slices. Puddings are good, with a particularly moreish apple and blackberry mousse, and of course, a chocolate fountain for the kids. Best to go in the winter so you can sit by the waterways. The crowd is a laid-back mix of couples, families and groups, so if you are after a party vibe perhaps head elsewhere. Dhs525 (sparkling grape). Dhs425 (soft drinks). Dhs250 (kids aged four to 12). Free (kids below four). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6730).
Nobu Nobu is cool, calm and tasteful – a welcome retreat from the sprawling hotel of its location. Its ‘High Brunch’ is elegant and understated with stellar food and an intimate atmosphere. Staff are polite and put you at ease despite the sophisticated setting. The outdoor area feels more informal where stone fountains and lush greenery make for quiet and pleasant surroundings. A sushi platter is brought out to start, which, although technically flawless and perfectly fresh, lacks any unique wow-factor. For the next two courses, each diner chooses one starter and two mains from the menu. The eggs Benedict, crispy rice and scrambled egg donburi with salmon, tomato, nori and sesame have a homely, refined quality and pair perfectly with some of the lighter options such as the ‘Bahamian style’ scallop quinoa ceviche. As expected, the standout dish is the black cod yuzu miso. Sweet, sticky and melt-in-the-mouth, it’s worth visiting for this alone. Dhs395 (soft drinks). Dhs595 (bubbly). Fri noon-4pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Saffron Despite the five-star price tag, don’t expect five-star food or service at the Saffron brunch. Instead, it’s the place to come when you want to party. With only one package on offer, inclusive of all drinks, the focus here is firmly on fun. Expect queues to get in before the doors open at noon where you’ll be presented with a glass of sparkling before being led into the sprawling venue where the DJ will already be pumping out the tunes. There’s a huge variety of food on offer, with mini burgers, fish and chips, paella, roasted meats, sushi and seafood some of the more memorable options. Expect long lines at cooking stations at the start of the day but these taper off after the first hour or so when the focus shifts to the drinks. Choose from fridges packed with hops to sliced watermelons and pineapples infused with tropical concoctions, coffee-flavoured shorts mixed with ice cream or classic sparkling options. Definitely the place to book if you want a big old knees up, just don’t go expecting a fine-dining affair. Dhs495 (selected house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Table 9 by Darren Velvick The menu of contemporary British cooking is the highlight of this top chef’s ‘back to basics’ brunch. The experience is more about culinary delights than party raucousness. Brunch is served in courses, with the choice of two breakfast dishes to start, followed by a main complete with unlimited sides and finally an afternoon tea tray for dessert. It’s like a whole day of dining in one meal. There are some refreshing mocktails available; the cucumber and pineapple creation is particularly good. You’ll also find a decent selection of house beverages and mixed drinks. Service is wonderfully warm and welcoming. Staff are relaxed and happy to chat to diners and you certainly won’t feel rushed. If you prefer to take things slowly, you can request a little breather between courses. Dhs350 (with soft drinks). Dhs450 (with house beverages). Dhs600 (bubbly). Fri noon-4pm. Hilton Dubai Creek, Deira (04 212 7551).
Traiteur The current title holder of Time Out Dubai’s Best Brunch award is a hard nut for any competitor to crack. Take a seat inside the dramatic concert-hall-esque dining room or outside overlooking the glittering Creek (you’d be forgiven for believing you’re in an exclusive Mediterranean resort). Inside the restaurant, the open kitchen concept doubles up as live cooking stations, and you can wander in among the chefs as you pick up plates of succulent grilled lobster, foie gras crème brûlée and a mind-blowing cold cauliflower and black truffle soup. Finally, if you have room, head to the private dining room re-invented as a dessert station featuring small but pretty leaden meringues, a mini-Bellagio of a chocolate fountain and plenty of other choices. But first, get to grips with the French cheese display. Within these plates you’ll find some knock-out examples (and plenty of varieties) to try. An excellent Friday and the perfect blow-out treat for foodies. Dhs465 (soft drinks). Dhs570 (sparkling grape). Dhs690 (bubbly). Dhs235 (kids aged six to 12). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
Crescendo This spacious, open-plan restaurant is bright and airy and opens up onto a terrace with views of the pool and beach. Expect a relaxed yet lively atmosphere, suitable for families, friends and couples. The ‘fork and cork’ Friday brunch is definitely one for foodies, with everything from a mouth-watering selection of fresh breads and an impressive range of exotic cheeses to salad stations, cold mezze and platters including fresh fish, smoked salmon and oysters. There’s also a sushi station and other live cooking areas dotted around the restaurant, with Mexican tacos and guacamole, mixed grill shawarmas and a selection of chicken and fish tagines and casseroles. Desserts are just as impressive, from chocolate fountains to fresh fruits and crème brûlée. Kids will love the sweet cart that rolls around, piled with gummy bears and fizzy creations. You’ll also find a drinks counter with all sorts of mixed beverages on offer, and there’s even a tea specialist on hand to recommend a brew best suited to your taste. Dhs300 (soft drinks). Dhs420 (house beverages). Dhs530 (bubbly). Fri 1pm-4pm. Crescendo, Anantara The Palm Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (04 567 8304).
Qbara Qbara is a beautiful-looking venue, grand in proportions, glamorous in ambience and flooded with intriguing and original design detail, from the mural of Middle Eastern carpets to the light show moving wall. For Friday brunch, the restaurant serves up a signature selection straight to the table. This includes a set list of starters and an à la carte choice of one main course and one dessert per diner. Pace yourself – those plates may look small, but the quantity of food is generous, and seemingly never-ending. The recipes served are sophisticated reinterpretations of Arabic flavours. Highlights include crudo of yellow tail with coriander seed and Persian lime, fried calamari, compressed watermelon salad with shanklish and heirloom tomatoes, spicy lamb cutlets with minted labneh, and ‘smash’ baklava shards with camel milk ice cream. Unfortunately, considering Qbara’s mixed beverages are quite a draw in themselves, at the brunch there is only a choice of four, some of which are something of an acquired taste. Entertainment includes a magician, but don’t give him your number! It’s a trick! Dhs350 (soft drinks). Dhs490 (house beverages). Dhs590 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Wafi, Oud Metha (04 709 2500).
Al Qasr For this opulent brunch the hotel’s three restaurants – Al Hambra, Arboretum, MJ’s Steakhouse – come together to put on an extravagant Friday lunchtime affair. With live cooking stations aplenty inside and out and numerous beverage stations lining the walkways between venues and outside, this brunch is more a feast for the eyes, since there’s far too much to get through in one sitting. And perhaps simply because of the amount being cooked, it’s not the best-tasting food in town. But it’s the experience that counts here. Expats come to celebrate an occasion and visitors take in the luxury that Dubai, Al Qasr and the Madinat Jumeirah have to offer. MJ’s is a pleasant venue for small groups, while the main dining area on the ground floor is perfect for those celebrating. Disappointingly, staff are inattentive throughout, perhaps because this brunch is so sprawling. It’s not one for every Friday, but it should be experienced at least once. Dhs475 per person (soft drinks). Dhs575 (bubbly). Dhs795 (premium bubbly). Dhs250 (kids aged four to 12). Free (kids under four. Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6730).
The Ivy The dark wood and colourful stained glass interiors of The Ivy creates a fine dining setting for this brunch. Although The Ivy is situated in Jumeirah Emirates Towers Boulevard shopping centre, it feels a world away from its location and has a real sense of occasion. There are two dining options depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. Put your faith in The Ivy’s team of chefs and opt for the eight-course degustation menu featuring British classics and optional grape pairing. Or there’s the d’hote table menu, which features three courses and classics such as duck hash and egg and shepherd’s pie. Both end with a well-stocked cheeseboard. Don’t anticipate endless dishes; this brunch is about quality over quantity. Drinks of every kind are available throughout, and there’s a refreshing range of mocktails to enjoy. The live entertainment and atmosphere make this brunch stand out from the crowd, while the service is very inviting as well. Dhs299 (soft drinks). Dhs399 (house beverages). Dhs499 (premium grape). Dhs599 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 319 8767).
Ballarò This brunch offers an extensive array of culinary delights including tangy Peruvian ceviche, a selection of Spanish cured meats, cheeses and artisan bread. The salt-encrusted sea bass is a must-try. The indoor dining area is spacious with a pleasant interior and a busy vibe with live cooking stations and a stage for the house band. The vocalist and piano duo perform modern covers, which enlivens the atmosphere. The outdoor area, meanwhile, boasts views of the hotel’s pool. The music is relaxed and mellow, adding an extra touch of sophistication to this laid-back afternoon brunch. Dhs265 (soft drinks). Dhs365 (house beverages). Dhs465 (bubbly). Half price (kids aged six to 12). Free (kids under six). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Conrad Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 444 7444).
BiCE Ristorante With floor-to-ceiling glass windows in view of the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah’s pool and over the gardens and out to sea, crisp white tablecloths and wide leather chairs, BiCE’s offering is among the neighbourhood’s more sophisticated brunches. Classic antipasto such as insalata caprese, bresaola and smoked salmon with fennel are served as sharing platters in the centre of the table for everyone to dive into, and depending on the size of the party, the second course of pasta is served either as small tasters on each diner’s plate, or three whopping great bowls of ricotta, spinach and truffle tortellacci, tomato and ricotta orecchiette and calamarata in a seafood sauce, ready to be greedily spooned around the table (this brunch is best enjoyed as a group of four or more). From the mains, don’t miss the salt-baked sea bass, which is without a doubt the highlight of the entire affair. Overall, service is mostly attentive and speedy. The desserts are the only let-downs. Though doing their best to be authentic – tiramisu and cannoli – they lack in their final execution. Dhs295 (soft drinks). Dhs395 (with house beverages). Dhs135 (kids aged seven to 12). Fri 1pm-4pm. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, The Walk, JBR (04 318 2520).
Bubbalicious While the name of the brunch may be Bubbalicious, the theme is certainly the food here. Guests can choose from more than ten live cooking stations, which serve everything from a traditional roast dinner with all the trimmings to Arabic, Italian, Asian and French dishes. Wander around each station and start with cold cuts, salads, sushi and lobster before moving on to a range of mouth-watering mains. We particularly enjoy the pasta station, where a chef prepares a dish of your choice in front of you. To satisfy your sweet tooth, look no further than the chocolate station. Cheese lovers can try everything from smoked cheddars to blue cheese, and soft cheeses with grapes, crackers and fresh oven-baked breads. The huge variety means there is something for everyone. The open-plan concept means that diners can sit in one restaurant and then move around freely or dine on the terrace and enjoy the sun. We love that there is plenty of space, so it is ideal for couples, families and large groups of friends. The atmosphere is lively and buzzing, but still family-friendly with entertainment from a live band and even a trampoline for kids. Dhs450 (soft drinks).Dhs550 (sparkling grape). Dhs680 (bubbly). Dhs225 (kids aged six to 12). Free (kids under six). Fri 1pm-4pm. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh Road (04 511 7136).