Friday brunch at Belgian Café Dubai Festival City

A Euro-style brunch with hops, music and varied food menu

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Food. Sunshine. Hops. They’re three of the most common ingredients found throughout Dubai and make for many a happy Friday afternoon in the city.

Belgian Café is well-seasoned when it comes to weekend brunching and the Festival City branch is a sure bet for anyone hungry for the above trio.

Be sure to wake up early as this brunch starts at noon, sharp, and is at the far end of town for any Marina or JLT resident. Taking our own advice, we skip breakfast, trundle down Sheikh Zayed Road and arrive with an appetite for breezy sun terraces, Euro-style dishes and Belgian hops. Although no diners seem to have received the memo – it’s dead when we arrive – staff certainly did and they’re ready and waiting with quick-fire drinks and starters upon our arrival.

We meander through the vast, dark wooden-walled pub, which is filled with sunlight pouring in from the enormous windows at the back, and grab a table on the terrace. It’s a cosy patio with extensive views across the Creek towards the Burj Khalifa skyline and a constant cool breeze sweeping through.

Brunch adopts the increasingly popular à la carte format, sort of.

You’ll get 14 different starters, mains and desserts with unlimited soft drinks for Dhs199 or you can upgrade to house beverages for just Dhs26 extra – which is truly exceptional value for the three-and-a-half hour package.

Food kicks off with a good introduction to European cuisine as bierplankje (a plank of cheese, beef salami and pickles), bitterballen (small balls stuffed with meat and cheese) and Belgian frites with plenty of mayo are served. However, it’s when the chicken wings and prawn cocktail arrive that things take a very un-Belgian turn.

Scottish salmon, New Zealand lamb chops and British fish and chips for mains follow and while they’re all cooked well, they’re not the most traditional dishes we were hoping for. That being said, the meatloaf and bucket-sized serving of mussels put a big, fat tick in that box.

The meatloaf – a dish eaten across Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium hop halls – is some of the best we’ve had and the vat of mussels is excellent. We order one with a traditional garlic and cream sauce and one with a spicier Thai twist.

Both are delicious and pack a punch of flavour. The mussels from Brussels are the stand-out dish.

But, if you’re expecting a menu of outstanding Belgian dishes, don’t – this is more homely pub grub than fancy brunch fare for foodies.

As we take a break and let the food settle down the venue fills up with a lively crowd of couples and groups of residents and tourists. The atmosphere is elevated with a live music double act, complete with acoustic guitar and varied catalogue of covers.

We squeeze in the trio of desserts – rice pie (rice pudding, in a pie), Dame Blanche (ice cream and chocolate sauce) and cheesecake – order another Belgian sour hops and bask in that sunshine on the glorious terrace.
Dhs165 (soft drinks), Dhs225 (house beverages). Fri noon-3.30pm. Crowne Plaza Dubai, Festival City (04 701 1127).

WHAT IS IT...
A Euro-style brunch with hops, music and varied food menu

WHY GO...
The mussels, the sun terrace, the exceptional-value house beverages

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