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3 to try: UAE brunches reviewed

As we head into party season, GN Focus says brunch is the best way to catch up with friends and family, Dubai-style!

GN Focus

A cultural institution across the UAE, brunch is best enjoyed with in groups – although larger isn't always better. With the festive season and annual 'catch-ups' upon us, we shortlist three stunning brunches to try over the long weekends in December.

The Voyage Brunch: Zheng He’s, Madinat Jumeirah

Carved tableside by a duck master, the Peking Duck at Zheng He's is stellar (Image Credit: Keith J Fernandez)

Perfect for your BFFs – or indeed your Mum, this very adult brunch doesn’t require you to do anything but sit back and soak in an unending array of goodness. With a spectacular view of the Burj Al Arab and its beach, you can kick back with a cocktail in the sunshine while all the food is brought to your table. You only need to get up once – for the dim sum.

Food: Definitely try the prawn dim sum — it’s fresh, light and packed with flavour. As is the crisp but succulent beef tenderloin with black pepper. The gluten-free spring rolls are quite a delight, and there's a nice duck and chestnut variation on the chicken lettuce wraps made famous by PF Chang's.

But it’s the Peking duck that steals the show. Chinese royal cooking reached its apex with this dish, and Zheng He’s is a stellar tribute: smoked in-house, the fat is almost caramelised while the meat remains juicy — this could quite possibly be Dubai’s best version of the dish. For picky me, it even comes with gluten-free pancakes! 

We hated: Madinat Jumeirah really pulls out all the stops with this brunch — we really couldn’t fault anything. The service was excellent, and the Indonesian manager even gave us a kitchen tour!

We loved: The gold-handled chopsticks with the Ruler’s name engraved on display as you enter — look, but don’t touch, of course! For allergy divas or gluten-conscious types, we loved the way the restaurant took extra care with everything. 

Details: 12pm onwards on Fridays, packages begin at Dh395 per head. Call 04 432 3232.

The Legendary Spectrum Brunch: Fairmont Ajman 

A staggering array of food, with a separate buffet for kids, makes the trip to Ajman worth it  (Image Credit: Keith J Fernandez)

Make the most of December’s long weekends and journey a little further afield with a tiny road trip. The wide array of food and beverages make this brunch perfect for the whole family. There’s a live band that belts out Latino classics, a separate children’s area with games and activities, and for Dh150 extra, pool and beach access. 

Food: Quite literally, it's the world on your plate: seafood (fresh oysters, delicately cut sashimi, almost candied beetroot gravlax), Arabian (creamy hummus), Brazilian (succulent churascaria), Indian (childa, an unusual mince-filled lentil pancake from Rajasthan), Chinese (light and crunchy soft shell crab battered only in cornflour) and of course, the ubiquitous British carvery (medium-rare herb-roasted beef). Best of all, the chefs at each station (there was even one for Eggs Benedict!) knew all about food allergies and were able to explain the exact ingredients in each dish.

We hated: With such a large spread, not every dish is going to be perfect – the mutabbal, for example, definitely needed to be pitched out and started afresh. 

We loved: Not only do little people under the age of 11 eat for free, but they have a special buffet to themselves, with all the dishes at kid-height, so choosy little misters and misses can make their own decisions. There were the usual tantrum-proof delights such as chips and sausages, but also fried rice and pasta. Equally, the service was a delight – staff were both chatty and efficient.

Details: 12.30pm to 4pm on Fridays, packages begin at Dh175 inclusive of soft drinks. Call 06 701 5544

Wanderlust Brunch: Garden, JW Marriott Marquis

The Wanderlust Brunch at the JW Marriott Marquis has an entire dessert corridor!  (Image Credit: Keith J Fernandez)

Had a rough week at work? Hate your life? Time to re-connect with old school mates? This loud and liberating indoor-outdoor brunch at the Garden restaurant is just the medicine you need. With nearly a dozen food and drink stations spread across different restaurants, you’ll need to fend and forage for yourself. 

Food: There’s a bit of everything, so it’s great for a crowd. We loved the little martini glasses with rice and curry from Atul Kochhar’s Rang Mahal, and excellent Italian from Positano, but the freshly grilled meat had us going back again and again. For a Peruvian restaurant, there oddly wasn’t enough fresh seafood — in fact, there could be more Peruvian dishes overall (we could only find some ceviches and anticuchos.)

We hated: Having to line up to get wristbanded and get in — nothing should stand in the way of me and my brunch! The service, too, could do with some work.

We loved: There’s a dessert corridor. That’s right, not a mere table or station, but an entire corridor with treats hanging from the ceiling aside from being piled up all along one side of the room. There are cakes, parfaits, macarons, crumbles – and a table just for truffles!

Details: 12.30pm to 4pm on Fridays, packages begin at Dh175 inclusive of soft drinks. Call 06 701 5544