The news of a brunch starting at our Restaurant of the Year sent a ripple of excitement around the Time Out Dubai office. As we fought over which one of us would get to review it, it also became apparent that this was one sweet deal – packages start at Dhs298, and when an evening meal for two at the restaurant can cost about Dhs1,000 without drinks, that price is not to be sniffed at.
One of us eventually won the battle, but getting a table wasn’t easy – it was fully booked for a month when we called.
When we finally arrive, the greeting at the door couldn’t be better. Staff at COYA really are excellent. Once inside, the options for the brunch are explained immediately, impressively and comprehensively.
The soft drinks package includes an inventive selection of mocktails as well as juices. The house beverages package includes mixed drinks from pop-up bars, as well as hops, grape and short drinks.
Whatever you go for, you will get a wristband denoting your choice – bar and waiting staff know which one to look out for, so you should never need to ask what you can order or what is included for the rest of the afternoon.
Wristbands on, we take our place in the bar area, which is where you’ll have a chance soak up the atmosphere. Music plays and friends greet one another exuberantly. The crowd here is stylish, savvy and presumably pretty wealthy, but the vibe is friendly, relaxed and very “up” – somehow, 1pm on a Friday feels more like 8pm on a Thursday.
The time at the bar gives COYA staff a chance to seat people table by table – given that it’s a sell out most weeks, it seems a sensible thing to do. It means staff have more time to spend with each table, explaining how the afternoon will work and taking the next drinks orders.
Everything up to this point is faultless, but what follows (the food) is absolutely stunning, and we aren’t quite prepared for how good everything turns out to be.
A basket of assorted breads and tortillas are brought to the table, with some spicy edamame beans and baby squid. Then someone turns up and makes the best guacamole we’ve ever tasted. His tip to get the avocados super-ripe? Wrap them in newspaper and leave them in a cupboard for a week.
Our attention then moves to the display of ceviches, sushi, salads and tacos, which are lined up along the ceviche counter. From the dozens of options, the beef tataki is our favourite, with the tiraditos running close.
The roasted corn salad is also a winner.
We could feast on these little dishes of perfection for quite some time, and we do make quite a few return visits, but our waiter, very sensibly, decides enough is enough and brings out the next course.
Skewers of tender chicken, beef and chunky mushrooms are presented on a still smouldering charcoal grill. It’s aromatic, tasty and has a touch of theatre about it. The beef is our pick of the three.
Mains consist of a choice from six of the restaurants signature dishes. The wonderfully spiced beef fillet and Chilean sea bass are must-tries. The sides of grilled corn, broccoli and quinoa salad are excellent accompaniments as well.
By dessert we’re full, but the visually stunning platter tempts us with its South American sweets, which also go down a treat.
Dhs298 (soft drinks), Dhs398 (house and mixed beverages), Dhs498 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 316 960004 316 9600).
The bottom line
Great food in a brilliant atmosphere. More established brunches in the city need to watch out; there’s a new kid in town…