For low-key Asian fare...Lotus One: This funky, Asian-fusion themed hub may not be the first restaurant that comes to mind for those searching out a brunch, which really just means there’s more for those of us who have stumbled upon this place on a relaxed Friday afternoon. There is a set menu, which means no jostling for curries at a buffet table. Still, it is an all-you-can-eat affair, and you’re sure to fill up on your choice of fat spring rolls, airy pancakes, and smoky rib eye steak.
Behind the World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 329 3200). Every Friday12 noon-4pm. Dhs125 per person, excluding alcoholic drinks.
For a more sophisticated affair…Certo: It is difficult not to feel like a pig feeding at a trough at buffet brunches, and while they are excellent when it comes to sheer quantity, even in the best of circumstances they fail to pull off elegant. Enter Certo (a past Time Out award winner), which provides a set menu (how novel!) filled with authentic Italian antipasti, pizzas, pastas and mains. Don’t go thinking this is a light affair – though set, the menu is packed, and even if it’s not technically all-you-can-eat, it might as well be.
Radisson SAS, Media City (04 366 9111). Every Friday, 12 noon-3.30pm. Dhs130 with soft drinks, Dhs175 with alcoholic drinks, Dhs60 for kids under six.
For the kiddies…Planet Hollywood: Some of the city’s brunches aren’t the most appropriate for kids. Not so at Planet Hollywood, which is not only entertaining, but dirt cheap. Even if the kiddies aren’t too enthused with the movie props used by random celebs on set (i.e. the fingerprint kit handled by Morgan Freeman in Se7en), we doubt they’ll be able to resist the face painter or the motorised games. Meanwhile, parents can gorge on an assortment of vibrant, fresh salads, or, on the other end of the spectrum, gooey cakes. The mini burgers will likely please the whole family.
Wafi (04 324 4777). Every Friday from 11.30am-3pm. Buffet at Dhs95 per adult, with one child free, additional children at Dhs50. Unlicensed
For the whole family…Beachcombers: The brunch at Beachcombers is definitely worth it if you get there early and can grab a seat on the beachside terrace. The kids can entertain themselves in the kids’ den (which babysits with PlayStations and DVDs), while parents can relish a romantic moment alone over-looking the Burj Al Arab. The food isn’t bad either, hailing mostly from South East Asia. Staples like the Malaysian nasi lemak – rice boiled in coconut milk – and Thai curries are excellent and authentic, and a massive dessert station, complete with a self-service ice cream machine, promises a bold finish.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8999). Every Friday 12.30pm-4.30pm. Buffet Dhs185 per person, Dhs225 including a Pimm’s cocktail, Dhs60 for children.
For a bang up fry up…More Café: If you fancy a civilised Friday with healthy fare and at least the option of logo-embossed bread, you could do a lot worse than one of More’s three laid-back eateries. Dhs95 buys you a massive plate of fresh pastries, ridiculous quantities of sliced melon, unlimited soft drinks, tea or coffee and a freshly made breakfast (their ‘famous eggs’ can be cooked to any specification as long as you don’t want an egg white omelette), followed by a floating table buffet comprising all manner of protein: More beef, More chicken, More lamb. We’ve never had room for the Dutch pancakes.
Garhoud. Other locations: Gold & Diamond Park (04 323 4350), Murooj Rotana (04 343 3779). Every Friday 11am-4pm. Dhs95 per person
For the morning after the night before…Double Decker: The food isn’t exactly the main draw here – it’s really the experience (and, let’s face it, the all-inclusive drinks deal), that makes this spot so popular. Regardless, the buffet has stodgy, British pub-grub classics and includes unlimited beers and wines. Plus, much of the crowd likes to stay on past brunch to partake in the pub’s other offerings, namely, karaoke.
Al Murooj Rotana (04 321 1111). Every Friday 12 noon-4pm. Dhs159 per person
For brunching with locals…Iranian Club: Female diners are politely asked to cover up with headscarves upon passing through the gates of the Iranian club, suggesting this is no Friday afternoon Facebook fest. The buffet here is fairly sedate, but no less sprawling. Plus, the Persian eats are 100 per cent authentic and delicious. The aash-e-joe – a creamy soup of pearl barley, fresh herbs, white rice and lentils – sets the agenda nicely. Follow that up with khoresht ghormeh sabzi (tender beef, spinach, potatoes, and kidney beans in a thick stew), or some Persian chicken curry with yoghurt. There is no shortage of delicious fare, and be warned: you are likely to eat yourself immobile.
Oud Metha Road (04 336 7700). Every Friday 1pm-4pm. Dhs77 per person, including soft drinks, Dhs37 for kids under 10. Unlicensed