Cheeky Tiki Brunch at Trader Vic’s

A laid-back brunch at one of Dubai’s top tiki bars

Cheeky Tiki Brunch at Trader Vic’s
Cheeky Tiki Brunch at Trader Vic’s Image #2

An unlimited supply of gooey cheese balls and mixed tiki drinks served from a giant ornamental boat sounds like our idea of a solid afternoon – so we’re straight on the first poti marara (that’s a Polynesian fishing vessel) over to Trader Vic’s JBR to try out the restaurant’s brunch.

Mixing classic appetisers like the famous cheese balls, crispy crab rangoon and prawn skewers with à la carte mains and several live stations, this is a brunch that aims to please everyone – and it easily succeeds.

On the way in, bright floral lei garlands are draped around diners before a quick tour of the brunch setup, which is scattered among the colourful décor of the  kitschy Polynesian-themed bar.

First up are the drinks, with the majority of beverages left out on the bar or in a giant boat for self-pouring. It’s also possible to order grape and more carefully crafted mixed drinks from staff, but there’s no denying that the quickest service comes from doing it yourself.

While the sharing-style appetisers and main courses are a hit (the seafood stew is excellent and full of flavour) the real centrepiece of the brunch is a giant two-metre long tuna which is heralded with a ringing bell and paraded around the restaurant before being sliced and diced into Hawaiian-style poke bowls.

It’s complemented by a huge sushi selection, squeezed in at the back of the restaurant alongside the live noodle and salad stations. Annoyingly, the tight location means it’s a real melee for that maki, with everyone trying to get their chopsticks in – and the rice is slightly stale – but the crowds keep coming back for more.

There’s also a live meat carving area, while dessert takes the form of cake finished with dry ice at the table (although the menu’s thrilling description of “fire and ice” is perhaps slightly over-evocative).

The service at Trader Vic’s is notably excellent, with our waitress making repeat visits to the table laden with drinks refills and more of those delicious dishes. Even though the brunch is full, with lots of large groups, the high standards don’t let up during the afternoon.

While there’s ample seating outside on the terrace, overlooking the hotel’s pool and the Arabian Gulf further in the distance, the real party is inside – where an excellent live band belts out tropical covers of chart hits throughout the afternoon. There’s also a four-hour happy hour straight after brunch, although most tables up and leave at the end of the afternoon for JBR’s many after-parties.

All considered, at Dhs350 per person for house beverages, this is a well-priced and solid brunch. Whether you’re looking for a wide selection of mixed drinks, lively Polynesian tunes, a laid-back tiki atmosphere or heaps of moreish cheese balls, Trader Vic’s brunch has it all.
Dhs350 (house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, JBR (04 318 2530).

A laid-back brunch at one of Dubai’s top tiki bars

It’s a solid, all-round option that’s good value for money

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