My Best Brunch Experiences | Exploring The Friday Heritage

Brunch, for me, is an extended breakfast that should be enjoyed whenever you have time properly to engage in cooking and eating. ∼ Yotam Ottolenghi

Soul & Talk

‘Friday Brunch’ is considered something of an institution in Dubai. Many large hotels and restaurants offer an all inclusive drinks and food buffet during early afternoons, and large groups of expatriates and tourists make this the highlight of their weekend, with parties going on well into the night. ∼ Wikipedia

Nominated for  as Best Asian Blog! To vote for me, please click here... 

So the ‘Dubai Brunch’ makes it to the definition of Brunch in Wikipedia. Although the Friday Brunch is the most common of all, lately Saturday Brunches are also becoming fashionable followed by late evening brunches that are gradually extending upto midnight. I have tasted more than 30 Friday brunches over the last few months (before Ramadan), tagging along the Z-Sisters and occasionally Debbie Rogers aka Coffee Cakes and Running (friend and fellow food blogger, also Travel & features Editor of the the emagazine that I edit) and have come up with the different types of brunches (conventional hotel brunches) that make it to ‘IshitaUnblogged’s experiences’. S goes out early on Fridays for his bike ride, and I do join him on his biker’s trail sometimes, and when I don’t, I brunch. One thing I would like to admit here – some brunches are delightfully good!

The Award Winning Talk & Soul Brunch in The Movenpick, JBR



Awarded as the Best Brunch at the BBC Good Food ME Awards 2014, the Talk & Soul Brunch has been in my list for the long time. Two different restaurants Soul (a lounge) and Talk (a family restaurant) merge together for the Friday brunch – both indoors and al fresco. It’s interesting how the two different sections exude different vibes while seamlessly becoming one. From Nasi Goreng to fresh oysters, grilled shrimps to lamb shanks (the one that’s featured here is the star!) and desserts served in the chilled wine cellar… the atmosphere is relaxed and warm without being very overwhelming in its menu offerings. The kids’ menu offers healthy and fun recipes from Power Bites menu (Mövenpick’s special menu for children). There’s a special outdoor corner for kids with bouncy castles, movie screenings, face painting and the works, while a live jazz singer and saxophonist keeps the vibe alive indoors. (And if this is of interest, there’s a discount for JBR residents too).

Every Friday from 12:30 p.m. until 4 p.m. Prices start at AED 279 per person, including buffet and soft beverages to AED 379 per person, including buffet and beverage package. Champagne menu is available.. More info here.

The Rotisserie Brunch @ Caravan in The Ritz Carlton, JBR



A Mediterranean garden by the beach right here in Dubai complete with birds’ chirping (real), the kiss of cool sea breeze on the cheeks and the warmth of a Friday Sun! The Rotisserie Friday Brunch at Caravan takes you through a journey of the spice route – India, Arabia and the Mediterranean. It brings organic farm-to-table experiences highlight seasonal ingredients and vegetables fresh from the country’s selected local farms via Ripe Organic. A *Top 10 to Try* printed list to helps you to choose from the buffet spread! My pick… camel milk dulce de leche shot, *sous vide* pear balls, the grilled lobsters (soft and melting in the mouth) and the Apple Pie! Topping all this is the ‘Vineyard’ an interactive biodynamic wine station exclusively for wine connoisseurs.

Every Friday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Prices start at AED 450/person that includes signature mocktails, fresh juices, infused iced teas and soft beverages to AED 690/person including premium spirits, wines, and champagne. More info here.

The Desi Brunch @ Mahec in Le Meridien Airport



This is one desi brunch that doesn’t hurt the wallet but overfills the tummy. The word Mahec means flavours and also forms the acronym – Modern Authentic Hindustani Evolved Cuisine. Definitely sounds good. And tastes even better (an earlier experience form their Mango festival). Starting from a chaat counter and a live Pani Puri station perched on a traditional cart and finishing off with kulfis set in matkas, this is desi binging to the hilt! After the chaat session of Dahi Bhallas, Sev Puri, Papri Chaat comes the Starters – Tandoori Cheese Brocolli, Hara Bhara Kabab, Chicken, Mutton Sheekhs and Botis. This is followed by an elaborate traditional North Indian tray that is brought to the table that is complete with Dal Makhni, different types of Naans, Dum Pakht Biryani, Butter Chicken (of course!), Amritsari fish and more. Highlights? The authentic momos – both steamed & pan fried. And the *Masala Cola* that is available on special request. An inspired version of Masala Thumpsup that I taught them to make!

Every Friday from 12 pm until 3.15 pm. Prices start as AED250/person for the alcoholic package
AED150/person with soft drinks. More info here.

The Steak Brunch in CUT by Wolfgang Puck @ The Address Downtown Hotel



Imagine starting your brunch with a succulent steak… and why not when the venue is one of the most prestigious steak houses in Dubai? A choicest of dishes from the CUT menu brought to the table, this calls for a very long and a relaxed experience – just make sure that the intestinal juices are flowing at its very best. We start with a memorable butter lettuce salad with avacado, Roquefort blue cheese and finish off with a divine hot chocolate molten lava dessert with a 100% Black Angus USDA New York Sirloin thrown in with creamed spinach, truffle fries and mushroom in between. We also tasted the Wiener schnitzel – celebrity chef Wolfgang’s favourite from the menu. There’s no reason to complain about anything here excepting that the portion sizes might seem quite a lot, specially as none of the dishes come as a sharing platter. Unlike other steakhouses (specially American steakhouses) which use broilers, CUT cooks its meat over charcoal and oak to get a slight smoky flavour – grilled over hard wood & charcoal then finished under a 1200 degree broiler – as written in the menu. The drifting tunes of jazz, the Burj Khalifa zooming at the backdrop and the vibe of the black and white framed celebrities who have been fed by the chef, lends a sense of superiority to the venue… everything here makes for a perfect Friday brunch – in Dubai sense!

Every Friday from 12 pm until 4 pm. Prices start at AED 290/person includes soft drinks and mocktails;  AED 440/person including house beverages and AED 650/person including premium selected beverages. More info here.

The Picnic Brunch in Blades @ Al Badia Golf Course

20141129_134032 copy

DSC_7766 DSC_7654

An earlier blogpost depicts our Picnic Brunch experience in pictures. While the weather hasn’t yet cooled down for the Picnic Brunch, when it finally does resume (it runs from October to April only), I am going to book myself into one with my entire gang of friends. This is by far the best family brunch experience we have ever had. Sprawling across the green lawns overlooking the Al Badia Golf course, your seating comes with a low lying coffee table, blanket, umbrellas and needless to say – a picnic wicker basket filled with goodies. Live barbecue stations complete the al fresco vibe while it seems like being horizontal is the only way out here!

Every weekend 11:30 am – 3:30 pm from October to April. Prices start from Dhs 275/person with soft beverages and Dhs 375/person with house beverages. More info here.

The Yumcha Brunch in Yuan @ The Atlantis

What is Yum Cha? Yum Cha is a traditional Chinese style morning tea. Also known as  Ban ming, this Chinese style of  drinking morning or afternoon tea is accompanied by eating dim sum dishes. In Yuan, a Yum Cha session is drenched with the finest selections of free flow teas (and also non-alcoholic beverages). A traditional Yum Cha not only focuses on drinking of tea but also on the range of small dishes served (which are collectively known as dim sum) either with breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. It is customary to share the dim sum dishes among everyone seating at the same table. This would be one of those fine dining Dubai brunches (mostly dim sums and what a mind boggling variety of them) that comes at a casual dining price. Priced at Dhs 188/person (why such an unusual figure? 188 is a lucky number in Chinese tradition), one can taste an unlimited amount of the dim sums that are offered in the Menu, plus 4 more pages doling out a selection of steamed items, wok-fried/deep-fried items and salads, rice/noodles and of course some traditional Chinese desserts. And the entire experience starts with the *dim sum trolley* that rolls out, what a brilliant start to a weekend indulgence! {More from my earlier review here}

Every Friday 11:30am – 3:30pm. Prices start from Dhs 188/person with selected non-alcoholic beverages and Dhs 375/person with selected signature cocktails and house wines. More info here.

Although I haven't consciously ventured into Abu Dhabi because driving back to Dubai after a leisurely afternoon does seem like a torture (or to book a safe driver if you have been drinking), the following Abu Dhabi brunches have been my favourite ones:

A ‘daycational’ Friday Brunch @ Safina in Saadiyat Beach Club



Safina’s Mediterranean interiors with lights created by hanging cages captivate the diner the moment one walks in. The framed pictures donning the walls are a reflection of stories of the ocean, the infinity pool with the jutting water cabanas overlook into the Persian Gulf outside double emphasis them. The menu is inspired by the French and Italian Rivieras and also the Levant with traces of the Orient thrown in – multi cuisine as one would describe it. The buffet is brimming with fresh oysters to pasta and curry station, live cooking and carving stations, a gourmet cheese bar and a dessert station. In addition, there are live cocktail bars serving a selection of signature cocktails. Do opt for a package that allows the beach and the pool access as the shoreline here is really beautiful – vibrantly blue when its calm and a faded turquoise and hazy when its windy. We happened to arrive on a day amidst Shamal /sandstorm but that didn’t stop us from outstaying, although it was too cold to swim. The 9km stretch of beach on Saadiyat Island has been certified Blue Flag eco label since October 2013 and the club is part of a protected habitat where Hawksbill turtles have nested for many years, so you might end up seeing some dolphins as well.

Every Friday from 12 pm until 4 pm. Prices start at AED 275/person that includes soft beverages; AED 375/person includes bubbly; AED 475/person includes French Bubbly; AED 999/person includes a bottle of Dom Perignon. For an extra AED 215/person, diners can also enjoy the full Saadiyat Beach Club facilities with access to the beach and pool. More info here.

A Bespoke Brunch @ Market Kitchen in Le Meridien Abu Dhabi



Market Kitchen is inspired by Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s concept of the “hotel as a home” and extends to the restaurant as a casual family kitchen. Inspired by the casual, simple elegance of the setting, the menu features Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “greatest hits” with fresh, locally produced ingredients. Truly so, for this family style sharing brunch experience has been etched in my taste buds as one of the tastiest, liveliest and a casually relaxed one. Another highlight of the brunch had been that the menu had been created by cookbook author Suzanne Husseini along with head Chef Jordan Annabi to bring the modern flavours of Arabia to Market Kitchen’s regular brunch. The entire decor focuses on a central olive tree that creates a courtyard feel while a full height fire pit wall connects the lower level to the mezzanine bar. The resuming brunch in August boasts of Normandy Oysters, Jumbo Shrimps, Maine Lobster, Mussels and Clams and one can enjoy the usual fresh, seasonal produce straight from the market.

Every Friday from 1pm until 4 pm. Prices starts from AED 199/person including mocktails; AED 299/person with cocktails and wine and AED 399/person with Champagne. More info here.

Pranzo del Venerdi @ Villa Toscana in St Regis Abu Dhabi


Staycation at St Regis Abu Dhabi

Staycation at St Regis Abu Dhabi

As I wrote about our staycation in the Ramadan issue of FoodEMag dxb, the Friday brunch at Villa Toscana is going to be one of its highlights and one of the best Italian meals that we have had in the UAE. This is one Friday Brunch that’s etched in memory, partly because of the leisurely vibe of an elaborate Italian spread and partly because of the passion of Chef Stefano, the Italian Chef de Cuisine. Pranzo – the Italian Weekend Brunch brings in the Tusacan countryside into the four walls of the restaurant. All dishes are brought to the table with the Chef preparing a menu according to the diner’s preferences. A warm ‘pane di campagna’ sets the scene and the menu consists of delicious starters and salads followed by a traditional Tuscan soup – the Ribollita di verdure alla Fiorentina or the Minestrone-ribollita soup with cannellini beans, bread crust; handcrafted pastas, a main course and traditional Italian desserts that quite naturally included Tiramisu and home made gelatos. Our top pick here? Buffalo mozzarella caprese (with basil pesto, balsamic vinegar that is 10 years old), the Burrata and pappa al pomodoro (with Tuscan focaccia crouton and yellow pumpkin) for the Starters; the specially created Scialatielli Ai Frutti Di Mare from the pasta section and the Costoletta di agnello al rosmarino or the Char grilled rack of lamb served with mashed potato and asparagus for the Mains. Expect to walk in with a huge appetite and walk out with absolute satiety!

Every Friday from 12pm – 4pm. Prices start from AED 250/person including soft drinks; AED 350/person with beer and wine and soft drinks; AED 450/person with proseco, beer, wine and soft drinks. More info here.

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 2.22.09 AM

Does a brunch with a huge buffet appeal to you or do you look for signature dishes from the a la carte menu when you go out to dine? As I sign off now, I already have at least 10 brunch invites waiting in my inbox – I am bookmarking the ones that offers something different. Which are your favourite brunches in this region or would you rather laze on a Friday morning, tuck your feet into the cushions and read a book and dig into some leftovers and freshly baked scones at home, just like how Noreen of Noni’s Place does?

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Disclaimer: I have taken up on the invites if there were any, in my compilation of this brunch list. Please check with the venue before booking into any of the brunches for their availability as some of the brunches will be resuming soon after the summers. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. Do join me on my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


  • daver001

    Have to say I hate the Dubai brunch and haven’t done one for more than a dozen years despite loving food. I think it’s the whole concept of excess consumption plus the idea of eating food on display that other diners have haves sneezed over… One I do remember with fondness, however, was at the old Aviation Club (now the site of Jumeirah Creekside in Garhoud) where its wine bar (The Library? The Cellar?) did a brunch where you could order again andy again from the menu for freshly cooked dishes and got a voucher the value of your bottle of wine to redeem on your next visit. Very civilised!

    • IshitaUnblogged

      Thank you Dave for your honest feedback (as always)… yeah it was The Cellar. You have put a new perspective to the ‘sneezed over’ part – will be hard to go back to a buffet now!!!! The trend is coming back again – ordering a la carte and food brought to the table.

  • The Real Geordie Armani

    I have never been a huge fan of brunches, I don’t think they are a place for families. I was at Parrilla at the weekend which was outstanding, no buffet, no sneezes, and plenty of food brought straight to your table. Well worth a visit but sans the little ones, this is more for romance than lego. Great review.

    • IshitaUnblogged

      Parilla sounds very good and the sneeze factor highlighted by Dave is surely going to play an important role in choosing my buffet. For me Friday brunches are necessarily with the kids – so the romantic ones might have to wait for a while. Thanks GA for hopping in:)

Did you enjoy reading the post? Do leave some love!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: