Meydan: This cavernous venue boasts two rooms of ‘racecourse cuisine’ with furlongs of fodder from all over the world, but a trot down the corridor reveals an equally expansive kids’ area, with its own mini buffet of hot dogs, fries, ice cream and popcorn. There’s face painting, movies, games consoles, crafts (with t-shirt painting) as well as bouncy castles and the highly amusing inflatable ‘sumo wrestling’ game. With so much to do, you may not see your kids for hours. Upon request, one of the many attentive brunch attendants will collect them for you so they can indulge in some grown-up gourmet such as made-to-order sushi, Arabic lamb chops and freshly prepared noodles from the Asian counter. There are also British and Italian sections and chefs are happy to create alternatives for fussy eaters. Ideal for special occasions, Meydan is great for all ages and has a generous age limit on free child places (up to 12 years).
Meydan racecourse hotel (04 381 3333). Friday brunch served 12.30pm-4pm. Dhs495 with champagne and other alcoholic beverages, Dhs295 with soft drinks, Dhs195 for kids aged 13 to 16, under 13s eat free.
Mazina: Ideal for families with younger kids, this Saturday family brunch is one where everyone gets to enjoy themselves. Ask for a table near the kids’ section, then tuck into the excellent international buffet (sushi, sashimi and the live oriental cooking section are grown-up highlights) while watching the kids out of the corner of your eye. That said, the little people, slapped with a name tag on arrival, will have a blast in the hands of the friendly staff, who are happy to guide them through the entertainment, face-painting, arts and crafts and bouncy castle. The kids’ buffet features the usual suspects of chicken nuggets, burgers and fish fingers, complete with their own mini-dining area. Of course, there’s nothing to stop those with more sophisticated palates tucking into mum and dad’s food.
The Address, Dubai Marina (04 436 7777). Saturday brunch served 12.30pm-4pm. Dhs195 including soft beverages, Kids under 6 years eat for free and half price for 7-12 years.
Spice Island: This brunch pleases everyone by offering two sections – one that’s more sedate for families with teens, and the other, located right next to the kiddie room, for parents to tuck in uninterrupted while tots are entertained. There’s face-painting, balloon benders, foodie crafts, movies and a mini buffet, including a cake-making station. The kids are also welcome at the numerous adult cooking stations, which include a tandoori section, with its freshly-baked naan, a Mongolian barbecue, complete with lobster and crayfish as well as Mexican, sushi, Italian and Chinese counters and a central table heaving with delicious desserts. Casual, colourful and entertaining for kids, Spice Island isn’t glitzy, but it’s got great food and a relaxed family vibe.
The Renaissance Hotel, Deira (04 262 5555). Friday brunch served noon-3pm. Dhs269 with house beverages, Dhs149 with soft drinks, Dhs69 for kids under 12 years, under sixes eat free.
Certo: A relaxed and refined Italian take on brunch, sit back and chill while six courses – featuring three signature dishes from different regions of Italy – are brought to your table at your own pace, giving you more family time together. There’s no dedicated kids’ menu, but they offer child-friendly food like pizza, pasta and antipasti and the chef will happily rustle up requests (even French fries). If you’ve got young kids, request a table near the adjoining kids’ room with movies and PlayStation, plus a face-painting, balloon-blowing clown, then you can tuck in to the scrummy Italian fare and forget – briefly – that you’re a parent.
Radisson Blu, Media City (04 366 9111). Friday brunch served noon to 3:30pm. Dhs140 with soft drinks, Dhs190 with selected beverages, Dhs210 with Prosecco, Dhs95 kids six-12, under sixes eat free.
Bubbalicious: Prepared to be blown away by the entertainment on offer here: A small kids’ area offers the standard face painting, crafts, games and PlayStation, but outside of this, there’s some pretty zany stuff. Little ones will love the hands-on petting zoo, where they can handle everything from rabbits to snakes. Then there’s an inspiring display of balancing and juggling tricks by Chinese acrobats, including a chair-spinning-with-feet routine. Like the entertainment, the food is bewildering, with every restaurant at The Westin contributing, and offering everything from sushi to steaks. Kids will love the unique culinary presentation ideas, including mini packs of fish and chips in newspaper and take-out boxes of Thai noodles, while their own buffet includes fish fingers, macaroni cheese, ice cream, cakes and a great pick-and-mix of sweets.
The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi (04 511 7136). Friday brunch served 1pm-4pm. Dhs299 with soft drinks, Dhs450 with champagne/wines, Dhs150 for kids aged six-12, under sixes eat free.
Latitude: A quality kids’ corner features run-of-the-mill kiddie entertainment but the real fun takes place in the adult section, where a make-your-own pizza station satisfies appetites and attention spans in one fell swoop. Stop for a jig to the live band or take part in a dancing game to make space for a mighty dessert, but don’t miss the pièce de resistance: a hilarious half-hour ‘Magic Chef’ comedy show featuring fruit juggling, cake-baking, bubble-blowing and plenty of audience participation. On the food front, the kiddie buffet is choc-a-bloc with mini favourites like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, macaroni cheese and fried rice; while the adult selection is top-notch including a wide selection of sushi and sashimi, a tasty range of veggie curries, a carvery serving perfectly tender roast beef, extensive fresh seafood and some excellent
Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 262 5555). Saturday family brunch served 12.30pm-4pm. Dhs185 with selected soft drinks, Dhs340 with selected alcoholic beverages, Dhs85 kids aged five-12, under fives eat free.
Beachcombers: Beachcombers is ideal for nippers who shun traditional kids’ food and teens who’ve outgrown nuggets, with plenty of tasty noodle and rice dishes joining other authentic Thai and Malay cuisine. Catering to all ages, entertainment includes various live cooking stations, as well as a four-piece band playing everything from Latin classics to a bit of Robbie Williams. A magician roams around doing table tricks while a supervised kids’ corner features face-painting, crafts and balloon-bending, as well as DVDs and two PlayStations. And don’t worry if your brood really can’t live without chips and chicken nuggets, the mini-buffet is stacked with kid fodder aplenty.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8999). Brunch served Friday 12.30pm-4.30pm. Dhs185 with fizzy drinks and water, Dhs285 with selected house beverages, Dhs45 kids aged five-12 if eating from the kids’ mini-buffet, half price if eating from the grown-up selection, under fours eat free.
Radisson Blu: The Friday Fun Food Festival offers an endless international buffet from 11 outlets and equally endless entertainment for kids of all ages – there’s a games area and mini soccer table for the older ones and a magician and child-sized buffet for the young ‘uns. You also pay for kids according to height, depending on which ‘door’ they fit (so leave behind the Suri-esque heels).
Dubai Deira Creek (04 222 7171). Fun Food Festival served Friday 12.30-4pm. Dhs155 food only. Kids pay according to height: those under 1.1m free, under 1.2m Dhs50, under 1.3m Dhs60, above 1.3m Dhs70, including balloon and gift on arrival.
More Brunch: Not a family brunch in the ‘kids’ entertainment’ sense of the word, it is, thanks to its airy atmosphere and great value food, an incredibly popular spot for families. First off, the staff are super-helpful, doling out free ice cream and providing colouring sheets for artistic youngsters, while the views of the marina and fun fair keep the kids amused. It’s great for babies, no doubt because of the relaxed vibe, friendly staff and spacious seating, which allows for baby chairs. Plus, the long wooden bench tables are ideal for large families and groups of friends with tots. Kids can colour and brunch simultaneously – it’s a bit like being at home. We love their ever-popular eggs Benedict with its generous dollops of Hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon accompanied by juice, endless pots of tea, bread baskets, pastries and fresh fruit – and that’s all before you hit the hot buffet. Here, you’ll discover the slow roasted meats with accompanying veg and fresh salad and, finally, the sweets.
More Café, Dubai Festival City (04 232 6299). Brunch served Friday 11am-4pm. Dhs95 with selected soft beverages, Dhs45 for kids.
Planet Hollywood: If you can forget about your figure for one weekend, few places cater for your self-indulgence at such rock-bottom prices as Planet Hollywood. Apart from extensive American fare, a live pasta cooking station and the must-visit pancake station, kids are spoiled with their own foodie haven, which offers the usual child-friendly cuisine such as hamburgers, nuggets, pizza and fish fingers. Keeping young ones amused is easy with the kids’ area, providing face painting, a play castle, playhouse and climbing frame; while older kids will love the Wii. Fun, comfortable and easygoing.
Wafi, Pyramids (04 324 4777). Brunch served Friday 11.30-3pm. Dhs95 with soft drinks, Dhs50 kids, under sixes eat free.