Champagne Brunch

Dubai’s brunch scene is not quite the sedate breakfast lunch combination it is elsewhere. In Dubai, it’s an exercise in excess, with free-flowing bubbles, wine, cocktails – and heaping buffets that would have the most indulgent glutton begging for mercy. Add a bit of music and you’re in for a social and popular Friday pastime in Dubai.

Friday is the first day of the UAE weekend – and the day when many of the city’s restaurants open their doors for the famous Dubai brunch. In fact, Dubai’s Friday Brunch is so famous – it’s even mentioned in Wikipedia under brunch.

I must admit though, it’s nice to see that more and more restaurants are now offering a Saturday brunch option that is a bit more sedate and refined. Although not a newcomer, Le Classique’s Saturday Gourmet Brunch comes to mind. Le Classique (French cuisine) at Emirates Golf Club is still one of the best restaurants in Dubai – at least according to moi. Blog coming soon!

Friday brunch in Dubai is an institution…but think lunch rather than breakfast. Friday brunch in Dubai is really just an oversized buffet lunch…but nothing just about it – and I do emphasis on oversized! In some of the city’s bigger hotels you wander from restaurant to restaurant with plate in hand, picking whatever takes your fancy from the many buffets and live cooking stations; with drink stations conveniently positioned throughout the sprawling venues. I often find myself just wandering…not quite knowing where to start.

In this blog I’ll compare two popular and very similar brunch venues. They are both huge, spread over three restaurants with a capacity of somewhere between 700 to 800 people incl. outdoor seating. Rather overwhelming! Both venues offer live music, children’s activities and al fresco dining, weather permitting. Outdoor seating is always tempting, but do keep in mind that even if it’s not too hot and sticky, flies could play havoc on an otherwise lovely day. The dress code is smart casual, but people tend to add a bit of glam…so unless you’re like me and prefer slacks and comfy shoes, put on your snazzy dress and high heels – and you’re in for a decadent day out!

Friday Brunch at Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah
Restaurants included in the venue: Al Hamra, Arborethum and MJ’s Steakhouse
Based on a visit 5. September 2014

Prepare to be blown away by the impressive culinary display of dishes from around the world as you descend the beautiful staircase leading to the ground floor in Al Qasr – an impressive palatial Arabesque hotel within Madinat Jumeirah – The Arabian Resort of Dubai. Oh Yeah! It’s hot, steamy and narrow…but it’s so worth navigating through MJ’s kitchen to pick-up some mouth-watering seared foie gras on toast! Al Hamra’s Moorish flavours and the Italian station are also among my favourites. When it comes to seating I prefer a table in Arboretum. It’s light and airy – and yes; it’s noisy too, but if it’s quiet you want – don’t do Friday brunch…or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!

Bubbalicious, Westin Mina Seyahi Restaurants included in the venue:
Blue Orange, Hunters Room & Grill and Spice Emporium
Based on a visit 29. August 2014

I love the Bubbalicious name – and if you like suckling pig, head for Hunters Room and Grill, where you’ll also find steaks (naturally) and some Brit grub – and a very interesting drink lab… Spice Emporium is the place for sushi and other Asian delights, while Blue Orange offers live cooking stations, Arabic Mezze, seafood, dessert and two large tables of cheese to name but a few. Oh, by the way, did I mention cheese? The best place for me to be seated is in Blue Orange – a big, light and airy restaurant. In Spice Emporium the kitchen is located in the centre of the restaurant – and of course it’s fun watching the cooks in action behind the glass windows, but the noise when steaming dim sums and other Far Eastern delicacies can make conversation a bit strenuous. Hunter’s – a relatively small restaurant – has a nice ambiance for an evening out, but I find it a bit dark for brunch. Add bad acoustics and you could be in for a rowdy experience…

I could go on and on describing the huge culinary display at both venues, but you really have to experience it for yourself. Just remember to book a table and check for timings!

…and my winner is: Friday Brunch at Al Qasr!

Why? It’s the total package. I know it’s not easy for any venue to compete with Al Qasr when it comes to location and ambiance, but Bubbalicious and Westin Mina Seyahi is a good contender…but it just doesn’t have the same WOW factor and “joie de vivre” buzz… That aside; I also find the culinary experience at Al Qasr’s Friday Brunch to be more pleasing to my palate.

Before you embark on a quintessential Dubai brunch experience, do a bit of research. There are many options out there, and a big variation in price. Paying extra for a Champagne package could be money well spent – unless there is a real good sparkling and/or wine included in the cheaper package. When splurging on the famous Friday Brunch in Dubai – drinking bad bubbly is just not the sophisticated thing to do! If you haven’t tried the famous Friday brunch in Dubai, I do recommend it – at least once for the novelty – and especially if you want to impress visitors… And we do, don’t we? Anyway, I’m sure you’ll agree that brunch in Dubai is an experience like nowhere else in the world. And why not? This is after all Dubai – a place like nowhere else!

Maybe it’s an age thing, but I would very much welcome a more intimate and sedate brunch concept to the restaurant scene in Dubai. A place to enjoy a breakfast lunch combo whilst sipping a Mimosa and listening to soft music… It’s probably already out there and I just haven’t found it yet. Have you? If so, please let me know.

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In February 2016 I moved back to my native Norway after 13 years in Dubai, preceeded by two years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Before becoming a full time expat in 2001, I had a carrer as a travel consultant in Norway. My expat portfolio also includes six of my teenage years in Bahrain many moons ago and two years in Southport, Connecticut, USA.

10 thoughts on “Champagne Brunch

  1. Får vann i munnen bare ved tanken på brunsj på al qasr .you lucky one!

    Sendt fra min iPhone

    > Den 5. sep. 2014 kl. 17:05 skrev My Fabled Land of Arabia : > > >

  2. Ååå så flott!! Du er flink til å beskrive både med ord og bilder Randi!!:-) Trodde ikke jeg skulle savne de overdådige brunchene men nå kunne jeg godt tenkt meg en tur på Al Qasr igjen! Det var også min favoritt!:-) Miss Dubai!!<3

  3. I miss Friday brunch so much! I like your recommendations but I would say that Traiteur (although pricey) now offers better food than Al Qasr – although for its sheer scale and opulence Al Qasr is great to take visitors to. The Observatory brunch is also good – nice mix of A La Carte and buffet options and with great views over The Palm. Also – Spectrum on One is worth checking out too. Whatever you do, make sure you stay in the brunches but out of IKEA!!

    http://lovelanguageloveliterature.com/2014/10/02/the-little-things-i-miss-about-dubai-part-3/

    1. Thank you for your feed-back and recommendation. Much appreciated! I agree that Traiteur is a better brunch option. In this post I just wanted to compare the Al Qasr Brunch and Bubbalicious, as they are vey similar in size, price etc. It’s years since I visted Spectrum on One – and I’ve only been to the Observatory at night, but I’m sure the magnificent views make for a great brunch venue. And yes, I’ll is definitely stay in the brunches and out of IKEA! 😉

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