It goes without saying that here at Time Out Dubai we love a brunch. The atmosphere, the value, the food and the drinks. It’s why we all moved here, isn’t it? (Well, maybe.)
And fortunately for us, there are an abundance of places worthy of dragging ourselves out of our weekend sleepy stupor and heading down bang on opening time. However, Le Petit Belge just misses out on reaching the same heights.
For everything right with JLT’s Belgian bar, there’s something that doesn’t quite match up.
The setting is modern, industrial-style, with a mix of sit-at-the-bar stools for sports fans, cosy corners for couples and an outside terrace for sun-seekers (in cooler climes).
The staff are brilliant, always on their toes and ready to help if you need, but not overly twitchy and ready to snatch your plate away before you’ve finished prodding at the last bite of bread and sauce left on your plate. They’re courteous, chatty and laid-back.
The drinks menu is wide-ranging – and specialises in Belgian hops, obviously. The prices are reasonable too, at just Dhs199 for soft drinks.
Everything is shaping up for a brilliant little brunch, despite the atmosphere not being a party-esque as we’d expected. However, when the food starts to arrive, things tail off. We’ve eaten here before and enjoyed it – the lobster and crab brioche rolls and wagyu beef and Passendale cheeseburger being just two highlights.
But on brunch day, standards seem to have dropped.
The sharing starter is a little confusing – the beef tartare is well-seasoned and the garlic and chilli tiger prawns are juicy and tasty enough to be ordered twice. But the mixed croquettes (usually one of our fave dishes) are indistinguishable – is the general beige filling cod? Is it cheese? We’re still not sure.
If you upgrade to the house beverage (Dhs350) or sparkling package (Dhs450) you’ll be given a short measure between your rounds of food.
And if you finish it before the next board of food arrives, you’ll get another, and another.
And when the main courses arrive, it’s more of the same.
The mussels in a garlic cream sauce are punchy, while the hops-battered cod is some of the best we’ve tasted – the coating is light as tempura, not oily and the fish inside is flaky and moist. It’s a winner.
However, the Angus beef sliders are forgettable and the Flemish beef stew is disappointing. Where’s that rich gravy and tender meat? What should be a hearty crowd-pleaser is instead tough, dry chunks of grey meat swimming in a runny sauce.
Have another short drink, before a dessert of mixed ice creams on underwhelming waffles appears. It’s a brunch of ups and downs, and needs some work.
Dhs199 (soft drinks), Dhs350 (house beverages), Dhs450 (sparkling). Fri 1pm-4pm. Pullman Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster T, JLT (04 242 7794).
The bottom line
Plenty to enjoy, plenty to work on.