Esca’s Italian brunch is an attractive option for the more mature crowd
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Time Out Says

October in Dubai seems to mark the beginning of brunch season, with a number of hotels relaunching and revamping their Friday meal deals to cash in on the city’s favourite pastime. One such establishment is Esca, nestled in the Qamardeen Hotel in Downtown Burj Khalifa. Whereas most brunches feature a varied array of international fare, Esca’s Q-brunch focuses solely on food from Italy, serving everything from parma ham to pasta and pizza. Likewise, the drinks list follows the theme, boasting Italian bubbly and a variety of hop-based beverages.

Until now, Q-brunch hadn’t really marketed itself, which may explain why it was so quiet on the Friday we visited – it’s not one for those looking for young, loud crowds. The few occupied tables housed families and more mature couples, but the dearth of patrons made for an oppressive silence; we chose to leave them to their hushed conversations and opted for a table outside.

It was a good job we did, because Q-brunch’s selling point has to be its delightful al-fresco seating area – a courtyard centred around a pleasant pool, surrounded by high-rise apartment blocks and neighbouring hotels. There’s also a barbecue station that serves chargrilled meaty treats to compliment the Italian offerings served from the buffet stations inside.

The quality of the food varied wildly. The cold dishes were generally uninspiring, particularly the pallid mussels, which lacked aesthetic appeal and failed to excite the palate. The pork station, meanwhile, was little more than a lacklustre gesture, featuring a few slithers of salami and limp parma ham, which was meant to be consumed with the sad-looking melon cubes skewered on cocktail sticks. Happily, the offerings at the live pasta station proved much more appealing, though this decidedly Italian brunch surely deserves freshly-made pasta.

Elsewhere, the tender lamb shank, seasoned with Italian herbs and coated in a chunky tomato sauce, was excellent. The freshly made pizza, delivered at regular intervals to our table, was also a nice touch, and was testament to the attentive, charming service (which admittedly became a little distracted as the afternoon progressed).

If Q-brunch were Dhs50 cheaper and a seat outside could be guaranteed, we’d have very few qualms about a return visit (especially if we had relatives in tow). Failing this, Q-brunch just needs a bit of fine-tuning to address its more obvious shortcomings. Once this happens, Downtown Burj Khalifa will have a perfectly reasonable brunch option for the more mature crowd.

By Oliver Robinson  | 27 Sep 2010

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