Must Do Dubai tried out three contrasting Friday feasts – at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on The Palm, the swanky Vida Downtown Dubai and the old favourite Jumeirah Beach Hotel – and came out bursting, although not all on the same day, of course.
If all the choosing that comes with most brunches gives you a headache, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray has a tempting solution.
The sumptuous hotel on The Palm’s West Crescent has more than one brunch option, including The Rib Room restaurant and bar, opened last autumn to rave reviews for its stylish décor - a dark wood and leather mix of private club and uptown brasserie - and menu to match.
As you’d expect of the name, this outpost of the respected London eaterie is weighted towards meat, but it has plenty of culinary tricks up its sleeve - not least when it comes to brunch.
It offers two options, both of which allow you to sit back and wait for dishes to arrive rather than disrupting conversations with impromptu visits to various food stations.
Importantly, of course, this also cuts down the prospect of wastage as food is cooked and served to order, even though the portions may mean a bit of a squeeze come the latter stages.
Taking the most decision-making out of the frame is the 'Best of the Rib Room Tasting Menu, which has more than enough to sink your incisors into.
Opting for this, we swooned to the Devonshire Crab Bisque, stirring this heavenly mixture with smoked paprika straws, followed by a refreshing Mixed Seafood Platter of poached lobster, oyster, a large prawn and a sparkling wine mignonette to rinse it down. Pan Seared Foie Gras was a naughty but flavourful treat, mitigated by caramelised apple, celery and spiced chicken jus.
The Pan Roasted Seabass was netted in the only decision to be made on the 'Best' option; perfectly cooked and cunningly partnered with butternut squash ravioli, wilted spinach and courgette blossoms with prawn mousse. Having also sampled the rival main - a John Stone Beef Duo of braised short ribs and grilled tenderloin with seasonal beans, truffle potato puree and sauce Béarnaise - we can confirm, you couldn't go wrong either way.
Already loosening the belt buckle, a character-filled 'Best of British' cheese trolley sought to test shirt buttons too but willpower succumbed to both that and a last minute head turner in the form of one of the finest Banoffee concoctions to hit these hips.
If all that hasn't got you convinced, you can "create your own" brunch, choosing from eight starters (Smoked Salmon and Chicken Liver Parfait among them), 11 main courses (Rib Room Prime Rib, Double-Baked Colton Bassett souffle, Hot Smoked Beef Brisket, Mixed Grill...) and five desserts, including Sticky Toffee Pudding and a rather fancy Eton Mess.
If you’re still able to move a few feet and the heat isn’t over-bearing, The Rib Room boasts a great terrace just beyond its stand alone bar. It’s an ideal spot in which to watch the sun – and let your food – go down.
For those who crave a brunch that involves the traditional arrangement with a trendy twist, the Urban Picnic scores on several levels.
Located at 3in1, in the very slick Vida Downtown Dubai hotel, this brunch draws many of the city’s cool young things while offering some very stylish food choices.
Hosted partly poolside and on the terrace as well as inside, Urban Picnic supplies baskets - and blankets, where needed - for you to select the food to take to your table. Grab your own wine or beer and soak up the sounds from the in-house DJ while tucking into some innovative pizzas, great salads and in-a-jar treats such as a perfect prawn ceviche.
A menu on the table also prompts you to order a tiffin tin selection that includes portions of seafood and butter chicken, brought to your table.
All in all the experience is fun as well as filling and definitely gives brunch a different angle.
The Smooth Friday Brunch is big and one of the longer established brunch set-ups and shines in several areas. It is also very family friendly and boasts a long outdoor terrace as well as views of the hotel gardens and Burj Al Arab.
It’s salads and cold cuts section is good enough to fill up on and it’s desserts section a stand-alone temptation in the middle of the dining area. But you’d be daft to peak too soon as the seafood live cooking station boasts well nourished prawns and, on our list, the hot Asia foods corner delivered some great curries and a dynamic beef rendang that rarely gets better this side of Indonesia.
THE Rib Room’s classy British brunch costs 475AED with house beverages and cocktails, 595AED with bubbles, and 350AED for food only and runs from 12.30 until 3.30pm. For more on that and resort August promotions, go to https://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/jumeirah-zabeel-saray/restaurants/the-rib-room/
THE Urban Picnic costs 265AED (with soft drinks and juices), 325AED (with unlimited selected beverages) or 495AED (inclusive of bubbly). Add 100AED to each package, per person, if booking a poolside cabana. Urban Picnic operates a generous 1pm until 5pm . To book, visit http://vidahotels.com/en/vida/restaurants/3-in-1.aspx
LATITUDE'S Smooth Friday Brunch happens 1pm until 4pm and costs 340AED without alcohol or 460AED with, including selected cocktails. Add Moet Chandon and it costs 585AED per person while kids (aged four-12) can brunch for 155AED. For more, visit https://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/jumeirah-beach-hotel/restaurants/latitude-/