To borrow a phrase, this is an oldie but a goodie. In the heart of Deira, the Renaissance Hotel isn’t the fanciest of establishments, but in terms of pleasing everybody all the time, Spice Island does a stellar job. We took the entire family – age range two to 80 years – and everyone left with a smile on their face.
Casual, colourful, tasty and entertaining for kids, the only requirement is that you arrive absolutely ravenous. Gran couldn’t get enough of the light and crispy tempura prawns dipped in a spicy, chilli sauce, while Grandpa filled his boots at the tandoori section, the creamily spiced butter chicken and freshly baked naan rekindling memories of his navy voyages to the East. Mum found herself lingering over the sushi station, fascinated with the expert preparation and taste-bud tinglingly fresh sashimi, while dad loaded up with Mexican tacos and fajitas.
And this was only round one. We still had the Chinese counter, Italian section, and Mongolian barbecue, complete with lobster and crayfish, to wade through, never mind a bulging dessert counter featuring all the usual trouser-popping suspects.
Spice Island divides itself naturally into two sections. The first, as you walk in, is ideal for families, located right next to the supervised kiddie entertainment area featuring face painting, balloon benders (be warned, you will be ‘stabbed’ by an inflatable sword), foodie crafts, movies and their very own little people mini-buffet. The second area, around the corner, is slightly more sedate and ideal for adult parties or families with tweens or teens. The beauty of this is that it’s possible for parents to tuck in, uninterrupted, while the nippers are entertained.
The kids are, of course, welcome at any of the adult cooking stations. Our daughter laid a solid foundation with a hefty bowl of pasta, before disappearing to the kids’ area to eat her body weight in cake, which she assembled herself, filling it with cream, cherries and topping it off with flaked almonds and chocolate shavings.
While Spice Island may not be a fi rst choice for those looking for the wow factor, the relaxed and unpretentious family vibe certainly gets our thumbs up.
Spice Island, Renaissance Dubai Hotel, Deira (04 262 5555). Friday brunch served noon-3pm. All major credit cards accepted. Dhs149 per person with soft drinks, Dhs269 with house beverages, Dhs69 for kids under 12 years, under sixes free