DETAILS: Dhs99 (one hot drink), Dhs49 (kids ages six-12), free for kids under six. Fri-Sat 11am-5pm. Rove Downtown Dubai (04 561 9000).
Downtown’s Rove hotel is one of a kind in Dubai. In a city where almost every venue claims to do something totally different to their competitors, many end up following the crowd. However, at the moment, Rove really is unique.
The funky, traveller-friendly venue lets you park your own car, carry your own luggage, open your own doors and get your own drinks. For many travelling from Europe, this will be nothing new. It has the feel of a (very) high-end hostel. For those more used to the five-star luxury of the GCC, it will either come as a refreshing change or a crash landing down to Earth.
The hotel’s restaurant, The Daily, runs on the same ethos. It’s a fuss-free, no frills affair. There are benches, canteen-style tables and chairs and an industrial look to the décor. There are also plenty of street art-style murals on the walls, as with the rest of the property – a reminder that you’re in Dubai and it’s a cool place.
In keeping with the general theme, its Bench brunch is a low-key event. You won’t find any ball gown-clad ladies, there isn’t much chance of hostesses carrying sparkling bottles of bubbly and it’s unlikely you’ll spot anyone with their faces in a chocolate fountain. What you will get is an unlimited selection of cereals, salads, sandwiches, cold cuts, cheeses, cakes and pastries, one main course and a hot drink. You can also drink your own body weight in juices and smoothies (if that’s your thing). It’s perfectly nice, if not show-stopping, but for a place to spend some time catching up with pals without spending a fortune, it’s a lovely spot.
The buffet is centered around the bench that gives the brunch its name and the venue is abuzz with people (and lots of staff).
We’re impressed with the array of meats and cheeses and there’s a good selection of different breads. Sandwiches are, on the whole, fine, but we wouldn’t recommend filling up on them as there are better things elsewhere. The salads, in Kilner jars, of course, are excellent – especially the feta and watermelon option.
From the main courses, the breakfast options seem a better bet than the pasta and salads.
The shakshuka is nicely spiced and comes with runny eggs, just how we asked, and the eggs Benedict has an excellent hollandaise sauce. The penne al forno is a little basic for restaurant food – the sauce is watery and lacking in depth. It comes across more like a kids’ meal than something we’d expect at brunch, no matter how low-key the occasion is.
In fact, that sums up The Bench quite nicely. It reminds us of food we’d love to take on a picnic with the family. Which is lovely, but not mind-blowing.
The bottom line
An easy-going afternoon you don’t need to get dressed up for, with simple dishes at a decent price.