If you’re after a party brunch, Miss Lily’s’ will deliver on all counts. Seriously good tunes to dance to? Tick. Drinks topped up continuously? Tick. Extra-long timings so it feels like the party might not end? Tick, tick, tick.
And when classic Jamaican food – given some unexpected twists – is added, you’ve got a pretty decent shindig that’s up there with the city’s best.
You pay for your package at the door and a band is put on your wrist, a bit like collecting your stamp when you enter a club.
We arrive at 1pm, and the place is packed. Once seated, we’re left to settle in for a bit, before our super-friendly waiter comes to join us for a chat. Gone are the usual formalities of restaurant service. Your waiter is your friend, no awkwardness, no trying too hard. It all feels very personal, making this unlike most brunches we’ve been to in Dubai.
The food options fit the definition of the post-breakfast, pre-lunch meal perfectly. You get to pick a starter each, something from the breakfast or sandwiches menu, and a side. There’s also the “world famous jerk chicken” if you’re after a more substantial meal.
The island’s most famous dishes are all present and correct, including a classic breakfast of ackee and saltfish (Jamaica’s national dish), callaloo (a green, leafy vegetable similar to spinach), sweet plantains and festivals (dumplings made with cornmeal).
But there are also a number of traditional dishes given a contemporary spin, and these pique our interest.
To start, we plump up for the ackee hummus and hot pepper shrimp. As odd a combination as the former sounds, it’s really very good. The distinct, buttery ackee taste is given a nutty twist, which enhances its unusual flavour. It also adds a slightly firmer texture to the creamy, delicate fruit.
The hot pepper shrimp are sweet, with a punchy, Jamaican taste, thanks to the Scotch bonnets used.
For mains, we go for a jerk chicken roti and the Miss Lily’s Reuben with jerk fries. The latter is the highlight. A take on the classic smoked meat and cheese sandwich, this one is lifted by the fiery flavours of a Scotch bonnet mustard and charred cabbage slaw. It’s a salty, peppery gooey mix of shredded meaty goodness.
The jerk chicken roti has all the classics of the Jamaican dish – soft, fluffy, roti bread, peppery jerk chicken and rice and peas – but again, it comes with that inventive Miss Lily’s slant, as a guacamole sauce and cucumber salad are thrown into the mix, all wrapped up together in that roti. It’s essentially a Mexican burrito made with the flavours of the Caribbean, and it’s a beautiful fusion that works. Enjoy between stints on the “dancefloor”, over by the bar, grooving to the reggae being played all afternoon.
By 5pm when the lights come up, you won’t want to leave. But you’ll be ushered into the bar and reminded that you have to.
It feels disorientating, since it’s not 3am and the sun is still out, but it’s a brilliant afternoon.
If you have something to celebrate and you want good vibes, great music and spicy, inventive eats, the DXB Brunch at Miss Lily’s is the one.
Dhs250 (soft drinks), Dhs390 (house beverages). Fri noon-5pm. Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 354 4074).
The bottom line
Inventive Jamaican food and party vibes.