Friday brunch, as anyone who's lived in Dubai for more than five minutes can attest, is one of the few things that unites most people in this city.
But it's an institution that's recently come under attack, being named as the reason behind certain debauched beach episodes.
It hasn't escaped the city's price rises either, with the Park Hyatt's Traiteur brunch now hitting Dh550, and the take-your-in-laws classic Al Qasr brunch a whopping Dh495. (If you've really got money burning a hole in your pocket, the highest we've seen is the Burj Al Arab's Al Muntaha, at Dh850 per person.)
The tabloid! team selflessly decided to investigate the shape of brunch around the city, and found a range of options, priced high and low. The result of our research? With the majority of venues fully booked, brunch is alive and kicking.
If you are in the mood for a gastronomic marathon, then JW Marriot's Friday brunch deal is as good as it gets. Plucking the best from Asia, Europe and beyond, the brunch experience offered here is about navigating your way through three restaurants from noon until a belly-busting midnight.
The Bamboo Lagoon restaurant lets you tuck into Asian tapas and roasted duck rolls. A a few step further is the Market Square restaurant serving an array of Indian and Arabic delicacies.
If that doesn't impress you, there's always the German corner, Hofbrauhaus. Sausage salad with gherkins is worth a shot here. When it comes to variety, there's no beating this one.
Where: JW Marriot, Deira (next to Hamarain Shopping Centre), 04-262 4444
Highlight: Carving stations and the seafood salads.
With Fazaris's hefty price tag on its decadent brunch, you had better make sure you're celebrating something special.
However, expensive tastes are what this restaurant caters to, with foie gras, lobster and langoustine on the menu alongside exotic salads and otherworldly chocolate creations.
Staff describe the menu as "international", but thankfully the restaurant does not try to cover too many cuisines. Japanese, Thai, Mediterranean, Indian, Arabic are mainly featured with impressive salad, seafood, dessert, cheese and bread stations.
Several diners were in paroxysms of pleasure over the chocolate station that featured every conceivable chocolate dessert. The regular dessert station had the usual desserts, but with a heavy Thai influence. The ginger creme brulee and lime marscapone wrapped in a tiny crepe were fantastic.
Location: Fazaris, The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai, 04-436 8888
Highlight: The chocolate station.
If it's an unassuming brunch you won't have to clear with your bank manager you're after, then look no further.
The Spice Island brunch is laid back — without compromising class — and caters for all tastes. With several cooking stations, they offer a selection of dishes, including full breakfast options, Arabic, Indian, Mongolian, Thai, Mexican and Italian cuisine, as well as seafood, sushi, crayfish and salads. Three hours is definitely not enough to try it all.
What makes it even more worthwhile is the range of options prepared to your specifications. Furthermore, service is prompt and friendly.
Be sure to try the crayfish. And the pasta. And leave space for dessert! This establishment is family friendly with supervision and activities provided for children, complete with a mini buffet.
Where: Spice Island, Renaissance Hotel, Deira
Highlight: Feel like sushi but averse to seaweed, raw fish or both? The staff come up with delicious and ingenious variations.
The one for kids
Brunch has almost become a competitive sport (to get your money's worth) in Dubai. Would-be diners vie to find the great undiscovered spots, but we've found one of the best at Market Café — set in the lush indoor rainforest themed garden — at the Grand Hyatt.
It's an experience that waits to be explored, with children getting a piece of the action as well. With an impressive culinary line-up from five open kitchens, we had a field day with roasted duckling and grilled tiger prawns topped with mushroom and béarnaise sauce.
You won't leave this place having eaten the most incredible meal of your life, but chances are you'll leave this bustling restaurant happy and feeling that you got your money's worth, planning to come back again.
Where: Market Café, Grand Hyatt, 04-317 1234
Price: Dh150-240 for adults; Dh75 for children 6-12
Highlight: Kid friendly, welcoming with good food.
Brunch at the Belgian Beer Cafe is a rather-laid back affair. One of only a few brunches that run on both Fridays and Saturdays, we opted to try the latter day.
The dark wood interior is filled with natural light that streams in from large windows facing onto Dubai Creek. There is also a terrace outdoors. Brunch is a nice mix of buffet style and a la carte. Choose your main from a menu of about eight items, which are then made to order.
There's a variety of choices, from the café's signature mussels to chicken curry. We went for the Belgian meatballs and the minute steak. Our only critique was that the steak came well done instead of medium as ordered. The meatballs were excellent.
On the buffet side there are fresh breads and pastries, cold cuts and interesting Belgian cheeses. Salads come both hot and cold and paired with the meat and cheese make a lovely starter plate to get you going. For those looking for a more traditional hot breakfast, there's eggs benedict, beef sausages and mini quiches.
If you have any room left for dessert, you can't go wrong with a freshly made Belgian waffle, topped with strawberry puree and cream.
Where: Belgian Café, InterContinental, Festival City,
Highlight: Belgian waffles.
With probably the best price-tag of any brunch in Dubai, Long's Bar is definitely worth consideration. The spread ranges from salad starters, to a more traditional British sausage and bean breakfast, to a full roast dinner, and variations such as Thai curry.
Table service is excellent and the atmosphere lively. There are children present, although the bar allows smoking throughout. Recommended dishes are the roast beef, chocolate pudding and tiramisu.
The only rules are that brunchers pay for a wristband at the bar, and order one drink at a time per person. Book it at least two days in advance.
Where: Long's Bar, Towers Rotana Hotel, Shaikh Zayed Road,
Highlight: The unpretentious atmosphere (and the chocolate pudding).
Best for outdoor tables
How about trying something a little different for brunch — relax on a warm, decked terrace overlooking a game of polo while tucking into a feast of international cuisine.
With the cooler weather well on the way, the time has come to venture outside once again and enjoy days in the fresh air.
Palermo serves its brunch on an outdoor terrace, and it is a refreshing experience with excellent service. Staff are attentive and thoughtful, bringing cooling towels whenever necessary.
Surprisingly the restaurant has a casual feel while still offering the most sought-after dishes including a wide fish selection, meat cuts and a taste of India with butter chicken.
Where: Palermo, Arabian Ranches Polo Club (on the road to Bab Al Shams),
Highlight: The range of fruits and other treats to dip in the constantly flowing chocolate fountain.
Feeling like you need a healthier option for brunch? Give More Café a go. More offers, apart from the a la carte option, a tasty buffet of salad bar, meat and veggie mains and desserts, as well as fresh juices and soup.
No matter what your preference is, the salad bar satisfies it. The well-prepared Caesar salad with Parmesan cheese is good, and the finely chopped fried eggplant salad with olive oil and lemon is equally delicious.
The lamb in a delicious pomegranate gravy is a must. The meat is so tender that can be cut with a spoon. The chicken in a slightly spicy sauce is also a good option.
Potato gratin invites people to indulge themselves and it's really worth it. If you feel guilty, add some of the healthy sautéed vegetables to alleviate worries.
Don't miss the cheesecake or carrot cake. One qualm: A little more variety would be welcome.
Where: More Café, Al Gharhoud (next to Lifco supermarket), 04-283 0224
Highlight: The relaxing yet lively atmosphere and modern decor.
No-one can be ignorant of the Yalumba brunch's contribution to the Dubai dining scene. Unusually, it's a haven for hen parties and dedicated foodies alike, where music from Sly and the Family Stone nudges up against melt-in-the-mouth roasts and chunks of sweet lobster.
The food is Australian with a twist (although the free-flowing beverages, sometimes difficult to keep track of, are straight out of France). That means lamb chops are grilled with a herb crust, and there's an Asia-Pacific slant to starters, like tuna tartare.
There's a vast menu of starters and mains to choose from (keep it by the table, as you can order as much as you want), and while you're waiting for them, hit up the massive spread of sushi, seafood, roasts and salads. Desserts were the only weak point, with the best choice being the mango sorbet.
Where: Yalumba, Le Meridien Dubai (next to the airport), 04-282 4040
Highlight: Music everyone can (badly) sing along to and flavoursome, hearty meat dishes.
The one with a menu
The Glasshouse is known for its beautiful food and Monday night drink deals. Brunch just isn't something that goes hand in hand with this place. There's also a surprise in the form of a menu. Pick from a range of starters, mains and desserts and enjoy a selection of free-flowing beverages.
There's an interesting interpretation of eggs Benedict — white toast, cold meats, poached eggs and cheese sauce. Sadly it wasn't piping hot and the cheese resembled cinema nacho sauce, but it was a hearty starter nevertheless.
Mains were a step up. Pan-fried salmon – with a succulently crisp skin – and red pepper and herb risotto. The strawberries and cream turned out to be the tinned variety on a stack of shortbread biscuits and one fresh strawberry on the top for good measure.
But there's a very delicious sticky toffee pudding. The atmosphere is subdued, making it a great place to come with parents or children – no dancing on the tables or danger of naughty beach incidents here.
Where: Glasshouse, Hilton Dubai Creek, 04-227 1111
Highlight: The wide variety of delicious beverages.
If gluttony was a virtue
It would be no exaggeration to suggest that every weekend Al Qasr plays host to the most popular brunch in Dubai. At 12.30pm, and not a minute later, an eager queue lines the hotel's central staircase, waiting patiently to be seated. Brunch at Al Qasr is a gluttonous affair and is best attempted on an empty stomach.
Linking the hotel's three signature restaurants — MJ's, Al Hambra and Arboretum — and taking full advantage of the outdoor terrace, it serves anything and everything the heart desires.
Feel like tacos? No problem. Pretzels still warm from the oven? You'll find them in the bakery amply stocked with doughy treats. How about seafood? There's a sushi station, freshly shucked oysters and lobster tails.
Missing comfort dishes from home? That's sorted too with intoxicating curries, perfectly battered fish and chips, complete with mushy peas or juicy wagyu beef burgers with every type of topping.
And while Al Qasr is place to let your hair down — the laughter is raucous, the band, upbeat — it's also the kind of fun where children are not out of place playing amongst the tables and munching on a stash of candy.
Where: Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, 04-366 8888
Highlight: Quite possibly the largest selection of international cuisine in Dubai.
If you want to impress
Brunch has quickly been linked to all kinds of debauchery recently, but Traiteur is one venue where an air of decorum still pervades. The restaurant — with its idyllic setting overlooking the yachts moored at the hotel's marina — has long been dubbed by locals as the "classy brunch", where stylish guests dine on delectable dishes and clink glass flutes, which are always filled to the brim with premium French beverages. What you won't see are patrons overloading their plates — although the elevated price could lead to such temptation.
A theatre-style kitchen means that every diner can interact with the restaurant's top chefs, ensuring each selection is prepared to your liking. Coffin Bay Oysters that taste plucked fresh from the South Australian Ocean are the perfect starter before moving onto the sumptuous feast of roast duck, Canadian lobster and beef tenderloin.
An Aladdin's cave of dessert is one way to describe the private dining room, which is packed with no less than 14 varieties of sweet treats. To complete the day, wander outdoors to the terrace to sip sundowners and appreciate the live jazz tunes. It's the perfect conclusion to an undeniably chic dining experience.
Where: Traiteur, Park Hyatt Dubai,
Highlight: The oh-so chic surroundings and premium refreshments.