Too often at brunch, the word ‘Latin’ is used as a lazy substitute for Mexican, bringing with it a boring spread of inauthentic food which in reality wouldn’t be found within a thousand miles of Oaxaca.
But at Anise’s newly revamped Latina Fiesta, guests are transported to South America with a huge range of culinary options – from Cuban to Peruvian and Argentinian – while enjoying a party atmosphere to match.
Previously offering a mix of international cuisines as part of its ‘Taste The World’ theme, the chefs have now honed in on a corner of the globe that’s known for its intense flavours and love of a good bean.
But despite the switch-up, the offering has by no means been toned down, with the substantial spread taking up half of the enormous restaurant. It’s full of live cooking stations – with chefs whipping up everything from tacos to ceviche – and the centrepiece is a whole barbecued goat.
A clever system means you don’t need to wait awkwardly for your dish in the middle of the thoroughfare – instead, a waiter will bring it to your table when it’s done.
This is no issue at the taco station, where the chef fries up a tortilla and stuffs it right in front of you. They even have two types of taco cheese – grated and that gooey American stuff that probably never was cheese at all.
We also find ourselves slinking towards the bread station for seconds and thirds of the pão de queijo (that’s Brazilian cheese bread).
While there are some vegan options here, this is mainly a brunch for the meat-eaters, with heaps of grills on offer.
We’re particularly impressed by the dessert selection, which features a lot of delicately decorated cakes and a huge chocolate fountain, as well as an ice cream station.
Another big plus is the long list of beverages included in the house package, ranging from tropical mixed drinks to Spanish grape jugs. Service is extremely friendly, and we’re never left waiting for long.
It’s all held in Anise, which is at the back of the InterContinental Dubai Festival City. This restaurant is ultra-modern, high-ceilinged and spacious, with a terrace offering spectacular views of the Creek. Oddly the brunch doesn’t make full use of the outdoor space and few diners from the family crowd venture out, but the staff are more than happy to bring your drinks there.
About an hour in, the chilled sounds of the live singer and guitarist are interrupted by a commotion at the entrance. Is it a brunchgoer who has overindulged in the chocolate fountain? An melee at the taco station? It’s actually a pair of feather-clad carnival dancers performing a spectacularly jazzy routine while winding through the tables. It’s a bit of a sudden step-up in atmosphere, and it might be a little too early, but it certainly gets the crowd going. The same pair reappear slightly later on after a quick costume change, and they even manage to get some brunchers up for a quick twirl.
At the end of the brunch, staff are more than happy to let the crowds finish off their beverages – so you won’t feel like you’re being sashayed out the door. This is good, because after three hours of feasting on tacos and bean-based bites, we don’t quite have the stamina of the dancers.
With its top range of live cooking stations, traditional Latin dishes, inventive beverages and party atmosphere, this Anise brunch is a real foodie fiesta.
Dhs260 (soft), Dhs395 (house). Fri 1pm-4pm. InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1127.
WHAT IS IT...
A huge buffet spread with loads of live cooking stations
Authentic Latin food and top Creek views