Zabeel Saray feast has bags of potential 6 Reviews
A New Orleans-inspired jazz brunch. Dhs275 (soft drinks). Dhs395 (sparkling grape). Dhs495 (bubbly) Timings: 1pm-4pm (Saturday)
The impressive Imperium interior is complemented by French brasserie-style cuisine, such as seafood, terrines and offerings from the carvery. Dhs330 (Classic brunch) per person with fresh juice and soft beverages; Dhs450 (Emperor's brunch) per person with grape and house beverages; Dhs575 (Sovereign bubbly brunch) per person with free flowing bubbly; Dhs2,500 (Royale brunch) per person with bottle of premium bubbly Timings: 1pm-4pm (Friday)
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Imperium has all the ingredients for a great brunch. For a start, the venue captures the essence of Dubai wonderfully. Huge chandeliers drip from the high-vaulted ceiling, while walls are adorned with faux-Renaissance reliefs. It’s mad and beautiful in equal measure, and the perfect setting for a Friday brunch, a pastime that is, by its very nature, excessive and over the top (not to mention a great deal of fun).
Likewise, Imperium’s à la carte brunch menu (laced with French favourites) as well as the extensive buffet options (which include a carvery, pork options, a garden’s worth of salad, indulgent desserts and a commendably varied cheese section), suggest a gut-busting Friday afternoon is in store. From the deliciously tender beef cuts (a real rarity at buffet brunches) and excellent beef Wellington (which you’d be happy to order à la carte in a restaurant) to the heartily sized oysters that make their way from table to table via trolley, the food is excellent and is all the better when lubricated by lashings of premium bubbly.
But in a city saturated with brunches, Imperium has yet to combine its ingredients into a recipe for success. My biggest gripe was the service. While it was by no means bad, it wasn’t befitting of the Dhs550 price tag (for the premium package). On arrival, our group of 10 were left waiting for 15 minutes before our drinks order was taken – surely any large group at any high-end brunch should have a waiter stationed at their table? After all, there’s a time limit to brunch and slow service should never be an issue. What’s more, I felt the venue and food deserved more ‘classic’ entertainment. The singer was certainly talented, but she did little to set herself apart from the countless live entertainers at the countless other brunches around town. Rather than croon cheesy covers to a tinny keyboard accompaniment, why not get into the spirit of the brunch with ’20s French jazz? She tried this for one fantastic song and it was the most memorable moment of her brunch-long set.
Once the meal is done, diners have the option of heading to Voda Bar next door for half-price drinks, which takes care of the post-brunch lull. Indeed, there are many good, if not great things to say about this brunch, but for the time being, service needs to be fine-tuned and entertainment tweaked to enhance the heady extravagance of the venue and its offerings. Only then can Imperium’s brunch contend with the best of the rest.By Oliver Robinson
Time Out Dubai,
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