Place the words “all-day dining” in front of “restaurant” and usually you’re conjuring images of beige décor, floor-to-ceiling windows and the general ambience of an airport departure lounge. Every hotel has one and, as reasonable as they often are, they do seem to encapsulate a low-ambition option for guests. The culinary equivalent of “something for everyone”.
New life was then breathed into these spaces by the excesses of the Friday brunch and, with more than just one slot a week in mind, this has been extended into other timeslots – and other days. The evening brunch is a case in point and, with other restaurants to compete with, offer a much better dining experience as chefs are able to take risks and showcase a wider array of skills. The value is also beyond question.
Above and Below at Nine7One
Where: Oberoi Hotel, Business Bay
How much? 160AED with soft drinks, 210AED with house beverages
When is it? 7.30pm-11pm, Wednesday and Thursday
This is one of the dining experiences where one can only admire the effort of the chefs. While the concept may require a little more refinement – is it a buffet, is it tasting platters? – and the ambience not quite restaurant, not quite bar, the quality of the food is exceptional, whether it was the seafood platter or the perfectly grilled lamb chops and beef medallions. Perhaps most appealing, though, is the innovation. Solid soup hemispheres that explode on your tongue were a highlight, as was the dessert station with nitrogen ice creams that disappear in a cloud of vapour. A nice reminder that food is fun.
The Cavalli Club
Where: Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road
How much? AED250 on Sundays, AED300 on Tuesdays
When is it? Sundays and Tuesdays, 9pm-11.30pm
Dine in decadence at the Cavalli Club’s twice-a-week evening brunch. Previously pioneers of the UAE’s first “midnight brunch”, even though it also started at 9pm, the brunch sticks to its favourite Italian delicacies, as well as providing performances and live entertainment to diners. Signature dinners are also offered inside the opulent setting, and for all those who aren’t buried by a full stomach, the restaurant turns back into a club at midnight.
The Midnight Brunch at Frioul
Where: Madinat Jumeirah
How much: 500AED (including house beverages)
When: Thursdays, 12am-3am
Taking things to their logical conclusion, the latest additition to the list is the Midnight Brunch at Frioul. With a Latin theme, helped by DJ Bien Feliz, this is both dinner and, depending when you arrive and how long you’ve been out, breakfast. So, alongside Angus Ribeye with béarnaise and frites or whole grilled sea bass, there is also scrambled eggs served with wild mushroom and truffle and breakfast pizzeta. The best bit? Three hours of complimentary valet parking at the Madinat Souk entrance. You really can’t put a price on that.
How much? AED219 with soft drinks, AED259 with house beverages
When is it? Daily, 8pm-11pm
Le Meridien has turned the evening brunch into a variety of tasting themes covering a variety of cuisines across the week. Sundays are Surf and Turf, Asian Night on Monday, Market Night on Tuesdays, Roast Night Wednesdays, barbecue Thursdays, Latino Fridays and a Mediterranean night on Saturdays. Personal preference, fuelled mainly by the atmosphere, is for the Friday-night brunch, serving up a great choice of meats and seafood, along with Cuban cocktails. The live music is excellent, too.
Cravin’ Cajun at the Novotel
Where: Novotel Al Barsha, Sheikh Zayed Road
How much? AED195
When is it? Fridays, 7pm-11pm
The newest brunch on the list, started on January 9, serves up a blend of ‘Dubai brunch tradition with Louisiana heritage,’ resulting in a long evening brunch based on Creole cuisine. The Deep South themed brunch offers live music from a jazz trio alongside favourites from the Cajun cooking menu – specialities including crab cakes, jambalaya oysters and southern fried chicken. Thankfully it’s a four hour brunch, so there’s time to enjoy it all.
Sunset brunch at Pure Sky Lounge
Where: The Hilton Jumeirah, JBR
How much? AED200 with soft drinks, AED350 with house beverages
When is it? Fridays, 5.30pm-9.30pm
This really is all about evening time, with the late afternoon start time ideal for those who have spent the day by the pool and fancy a casual but still high-quality meal an idle stroll from their lounger. Located on the 35th floor of the hotel, the sumptuous views across the Arabian Gulf and understated décor help create an ambience that is both relaxed and refined. Also, to its considerable advantage is the tasting-plate menu, which avoids the unseemly scrum and ceaseless movement of the buffet. Recommended.
Surf and Turf at Mistral
Where: The Movenpick, Ibn Battuta Gate
How much? AED199 with soft drinks, AED299 with house beverages
When is it? Thursday and Friday from 7.30pm
The self-explanatory Surf and Turf concept is fully embraced at the Movenpick hotel at Ibn Battuta Gate. Choice cuts of steak, lamb chops, chicken breast, kofta skewers and shish taouk sit in their raw state in buckets of ice, which you then choose and have cooked to order. The same applies to the hammour, lobster, jumbo shrimp and other fresh seafood, which provides a freshness and succulence that a metal chafing dish never can. Frankly, we’re not sure why everyone does it.