Ultimately, there are two types of bruncher – those who enjoy the freedom of choosing from a smorgasbord of buffet options, and those who prefer to have their courses individually prepared by chefs and delivered to their table.
At Chez Charles, a chic French brasserie tucked behind one of the many modern glass-fronted buildings in Dubai Design District, diners are promised that they won’t be coralled into one category or the other, with both an à la carte menu and a buffet.
Being a French restaurant, Chez Charles offers an extensive menu day-to-day, brimming with everything from black truffle gnocchi to raclette cheese puffs.
Previously Chez Charles was known as a high-end catering company, and when it opened last year, the venue became the brand’s first foray into the restaurant business.
And being in the middle of d3, it does a healthy weekday trade with local executives streaming through the doors for lunch. But during our visit neither the crowds nor the variety of cuisine is here.
Instead, we’re presented with a short menu featuring four sharing starters and three main courses from “live stations” – lamb, short ribs and pasta.
The dessert menu is more promising, featuring five options plus a cheese platter. We’re told that this is a special offering for summer, with plans to re-introduce a small buffet selection in the coming weeks. No cheese table? C’est la vie.
Starters are served à la française (i.e. all brought out at the same time). Waitstaff are friendly and dish up wholesome bowls of salads – green lentil, rice and Greek – as well as a beautifully presented platter of cold cuts. It’s all very delicious but each salad is quite similar and there’s not much bulk (this is one brunch you won’t have to fear filling up on the bread).
Next up are the live stations, which are by far the jewel in the Chez Charles’ crown. The spaghetti carbonara is prepared in a wheel of Parmesan and is served perfectly al dente, while the miniature lamb parcels are succulent and moreish.
Another highlight is dessert, which is served on a small wooden platter. There’s an incredibly moist carrot cake, chocolate mousse and a sweet French toast with Breton salted butter caramel. Don’t miss it – the sugary shell reveals sweet, golden bread beneath. It’s all over a bit quickly – an hour-and-a-half in, all the courses have been served.
The vibe never really picks up throughout, either, which could be due to the area (which is undoubtedly a weekday place) or a lack of exposure. Either way, it’s a shame as the chic brasserie has sharp décor and a warm vibe.
The à la carte menu is solid, but the full buffet offering, and a few more brunches, would make the experience a true joie de brunch.
Dhs275 (soft drinks), Dhs455 (house beverages, grape and spirits). Sat 1pm-4pm. Building 11, d3, Ras Al Khor Road (04 512 2444).
The bottom line
No bustle at this brasserie on weekends.