A seat on a pretty terrace overlooking the entrance to Dubai Marina, the funky sounds of a DJ accompanied by a live bouzouki player and plate after plate of delicious, interesting food, with a steady flow of drinks from the excellent staff.
Welcome to brunch at Rüya, the Turkish restaurant from British chef Colin Clague and the team behind Dubai culinary big hitters, Zuma, Coya, Nusr-Et and more.
We’re enjoying this Friday afternoon more than any in a long while. Everything, from the moment we set foot inside, is pretty much perfect.
It’s quite quiet, but we don’t mind that so much (we’re sure the restaurant’s accounts team don’t share the same view) and there is still a pleasant atmosphere, with the chatter of fellow brunchers audible amongst the tunes from the live entertainment.
A choice of seating areas means you can sit firmly inside the dining room, on the edges of it (next to the wide open windows) or on the terrace, which at this time of year is fully open to the elements.
We’re on the terrace, watching boat parties leave and re-enter the Marina (slightly rowdier than when they left) throughout the afternoon. The current weather is perfect for this setting, with a slight breeze coming from the sea, cooling any lingering high temperatures.
The format is simple, made even easier when the staff are on the ball, as they are here. There’s a buffet selection of raw dishes, cheeses and salads; a bread station with different kinds available straight from the huge oven; grills and pides that are brought to the table; egg dishes to order and a selection of main courses. Desserts are also available buffet-style in front of the open kitchen.
The selection seems vast but with careful pacing, justice can be done to the dishes. And when they taste as good as this, you’ll want to try as much as possible.
The starters are all available in small, almost one-bite portions. Our highlights are the cig kofta (a quenelle of raw beef mixed with bulgar wheat and served in a baby gem leaf), cured Turkish salmon with cacik (an Ottoman take on tzatziki) apple and fennel and the Lakerda, salt-cured bonito fish with compressed cucumber and taramasalata. All are a show of the kitchen’s masterful touch when it comes to balancing flavours.
Slow-cooked eggs with roasted garlic yoghurt are an indulgent breakfast dish – with rich and luxurious yolks.
Speaking of yolks takes us to the two cheese and egg pide – which we have talked up before on these pages.
Crispy whitebait, deep-fried calamari and stuffed, fried courgette fritters are all excellent, as are chicken wings and the grilled kebabs that arrive at the table.
Main courses are from the regular à la carte menu, and show no drop in quality, while the desserts are all light and fun.
We could go on, but our mouths are beginning to water.
The Bottom Line
Book this brunch. It’s as simple as that.