Great venue with decent prices and passable food 1 Reviews
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Keeping up with the plethora of Friday brunches in Dubai is an enviable part of a food journalist’s role, but a difficult one nonetheless. While all brunches are different, from the cost and the clientele to the venue and the cuisine, they all share the similar traits of consumption and excess. Reviewing them almost becomes a chore – the seemingly limitless food and drink options (and the obligation to sample them all) are an assault on the senses; after a while they begin to meld into one. I call this ‘brunch blindness’, a condition that worsens as the year progresses, but is alleviated come autumn when restaurants relaunch their revamped Friday offers.
The latest addition to the brunch scene is Horizon. The rooftop bar has a history of hosting notable nocturnal activities, but since summer, when it underwent renovations (admittedly I hadn’t seen it pre-facelift, so have no reliable point of reference), it is offering its own brand of daytime debauchery at its new al-fresco brunch.
When we visited, we had to negotiate our entry via a rather intimidating doorman, who quizzed us about the purpose of our visit: were we planning to use the pool or attend the brunch? None of our party was sporting swimwear so we thought this was obvious, but, not wanting to get on the wrong side of this bear-like guardian, we politely informed him we were there for the latter. We were issued with fluorescent wristbands and stepped out into the sun.
The combination of massive doorman and fluorescent wristbands was a telling indication that we were there for the party, rather than the food. This was confirmed by the disco tunes pumping out of the speakers and swarms of young folk propping up the bar, trying to make themselves heard over the music.
So that’s the vibe – what of the food? As with the majority of Dubai brunches, Horizon serves an ‘international’ (read: a bit of everything from nowhere in particular) array of cuisines, which are available from the temporary buffet stands set up across the terrace. There’s something of a village fête feel to the venue (if you ignore the fact that Horizon overlooks the turquoise Arabian Gulf), which makes it rather pleasant ambling from station to station.
After a quick tour, I started with a selection of Japanese offerings. I employ this tactic at all brunches, but came unstuck at Horizon when the sushi crumbled at the touch of a chopstick – the fish fell away and the rice flaked apart too easily. I was forced to abandon half my plate and go in search of other international fare, and was pleased to find a buffet station bursting with Mexican staples. These I gladly piled onto my plate and, while the fajitas were by no means gourmet, they made for great comfort food, which helped me recover from the disappointment of the sushi. The same goes for the ribs, which were a little stringy, but soft and tender enough to warrant a revisit to the buffet table. The live pasta station was also a definite plus point, offering homely food that was great for lining the stomach.
On this evidence, the Horizon brunch isn’t an advisable option for foodies. But then, unlike other dining experiences, this isn’t the point of a brunch, a meal that relies as much (if not more) on venue and personality as it does on food. Horizon’s offerings range from disappointing to decent (but never brilliant), yet I’d still consider a repeat visit.
My only other quibble is the vibe. While the venue is fantastic, the personality of the brunch feels a little forced – the pumping music screams ‘party!’, but the event would benefit from ditching the decibels in favour of a more chilled-out atmosphere, where guests can hear one another from across the table, take in the view and enjoy a few drinks before the party really gets going. Once this happens, Horizon’s enviable location will help to set it apart from the pervading brunch blindness.By Oliver Robinson
Time Out Dubai,
Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.