Despite the name of the event, it’s a pretty come-as-you-like affair, and you won’t be out of place whether you’re wearing a fancy frock or shorts (not beach ones, mind).
There’s a great vibe, with a pleasantly noisy buzz, which isn’t so loud you can’t hear your dining companion talk.
When it comes to diners, there’s a real mix. From couples to large tables of birthday parties and family groups, but while everyone’s here for a good time, it’s not a party brunch. The grandeur of the restaurant means this feels like a sophisticated lunch out, not an overly lively Friday feast. A wall of floor-to-ceiling windows also makes for a light, bright and airy feel, while buffet stations are decked out with cute, kitsh Union flag bunting. The colourful decorations are a nod to the hotel’s distinctly British background – GBR does, after all, stand for Great British Restaurant, and DUKES is the sister of the famous Mayfair hotel.
When it comes to food there’s a distinctly British feel, too. A prawn cocktail station sits next to a stand for typically British mixed drinks (again both stations are adorned with red, white and blue decorations). We opt for the former, a deliciously retro dish with plump prawns lightly coated in creamy pink Marie Rose sauce, all on a bed of shredded iceburg lettuce.
The salad station is the least appetising of the lot, but there’s plenty more on offer. So we dive straight in with a roast. Beef and lamb are carved in front you, with the meat perfectly cooked. Accompaniments are less so, with some slightly soggy veg and, surprisingly, given the name GBR, some under-par roasties. However, giant, pillowy, crispy Yorkshire puddings more than make up for the potatoes’ shortcomings.
Other stations boast mini fish and chips with minted peas and a whole host of curries. Both are nice enough but don’t have the wow-factor and we can’t help thinking that the restaurant would be better suited to an à la carte offering.
Also, given that it’s a buffet, the service could do with sharpening – a 25-minute wait for a drink is too long.
That’s not a deal breaker, though, and we love the live singer and approve of the lack of music festival-style wristbands. A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a Friday. Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (house beverages), Dhs445 (sparkling grape) Fri 1pm-4pm. Ongoing. DUKES Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (04 455 1101). The bottom line A British brunch that’s great in ways.