Walking through the glass doors at BiCE on a Friday afternoon, I was greeted by a relatively rare but very welcome brunch sight. The restaurant was busy without being rowdy; it wasn’t quite full, but it was buzzing, with the vibrancy of a bustling venue ploughing through the lunch rush.

My companion and I took a seat in the simple, modern dining space, craning our necks to catch a glimpse of the sea over the hill of palm trees that sloped down to the beach outside. The menus arrived and we perused the collection of set sharing dishes, which would soon arrive, and made the sole decision of the day: whether to opt for a main course mixed grill of meat or fish. So we choose both – one each to share.

Already, everything felt so easy and elegant. The only thing that spoiled this sophisticated brunch vibe was the arrival at our table of two uniformed brand ambassadors for an Italian beverage, which gave off a promotion whiff.

Our first course was a collection of several classic Italian starters to share. The beef carpaccio was simple, uncomplicated and exemplary thanks to the melty, buttery beef. Also on offer was some good bresaola and a buffalo mozzarella salad, although the two were interspersed with a comparatively dull mixed-leaf salad. Finally for this course, the frito misto of zucchini, prawns and calamari kept the side up – the calamari were particularly juicy and sweet.

On to the pasta course, and the warm truffle aroma hit us before the dish had even touched the table.

The scent was attributed to the spinach and ricotta ravioli, which was just as delightful in taste, although primarily due to the truffle. The thick, chewy tubes of paccheri, served with elegant, perfectly cooked seafood, were another wonder. In contrast, the penne arrabbiata was greasy, uninspiring and the only thing either of us left on the plate.

The mixed grills of seafood and meat were plentiful but not gluttonous (refreshing at a brunch). Both offered good variety and were well cooked. Finally came the desserts: not over the top, or terribly frou-frou, but delicious. The panna cotta with raspberry was particularly clean and sharp in flavour, the chocolate soufflé was gooey, drippy and indulgent, and the tiramisu had a successfully intense coffee taste. We enjoyed
these desserts so much, we barely touch the giant fruit plate that was also on the table.

By the time the bill arrived, we’d had a long, lazy and lovely weekend lunch. No queuing, no piling up of plates, and no wondering if we were getting our money’s worth, which left infinitely more time to chat and enjoy the (for the most part) excellent food.
Dhs285 (soft drinks), Dhs375 (house beverages). Brunch served Fri 1pm-4pm.