Not many brunches feature your own personal three-storey allotment. Especially not one wheeled to the table and left for you to tend/build an assortment of competitively ludicrous mixed drinks from. So, if you’ve always fancied yourself as a horticulturalist, with a certain flair for decorative burgers and skewers of salami (and who hasn’t?), BARBARY’s Brunch Affair is the place to be.
Taking place on both Friday and Saturday, the deal is this: Dhs299; five hours; three courses; unlimited drinks. If you think three courses doesn’t sound like much, you’ll soon be eating your words – and at least half the contents of the menu – come the arrival of the sharing starters.
Brace yourselves. And possibly your table.
A tidal wave of dishes arrives to kick off the dining experience. Mac ’n’ cheese balls, mini chipolatas, French toast soldiers, Montreal poutine, smoked salmon, cured meats… Go as a group, because between just two, it’s an almost insurmountable volume of food.
(Almost – we trust you’ll give it as good a go as us.)
The spicy, tangy beef tartare wins the round, closely followed by the deli platter’s fresh, lean smoked salmon. Both the chipolatas and poutine could do with being a bit more authentic, but the standard is generally impressively high considering the huge variety the table is groaning beneath.
But there’s no need to wait for mains before this brunch peaks – each table is swiftly delivered its very own three-tiered “Build-a-Bary” stand, complete with a laundry list of vegetables, pickles and meaty snacks on sticks. The purpose? Build your own Mary – with or without a splash of Russian beverage.
Though there aren’t exactly swathes of diners on the day we visit (the vibe is distinctly laid-back), this is clearly the highlight around the room. An unspoken competition is taking place to see who can build the most toweringly absurd drink, and it’s all being faithfully documented – naturally – on Instagram. (We can almost hear the marketing team patting themselves on the back.
And so to mains, which have a classic brunch leaning. Shakshouka, steak and eggs, Benedict, buttermilk pancakes – you get the drift. The full breakfast is just that, a monster serving, with herby Lincolnshire sausages that put the earlier efforts of those chipolatas to even further shame. But after all we’ve heard about the classic dog, it’s disappointingly tough, even if that smoky frank flavour is spot on.
At this point we should probably tell you about dessert, but after 45 minutes we gave up waiting, and partied on to pastures new. Based on a quick glance around the room, we don’t seem to have missed much by forgoing the small slice of carrot cake.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this probably isn’t the feast for you. But for those with green fingers, there’s fun to be had.
Dhs299 (house beverages). Fri-Sat noon-5pm. TRYP by Wyndham, Barsha Heights, www.barbary.ae (04 247 6688).
The bottom line
Good fun, good value.