REVIEW: Azur’s Friday brunch
Friday brunch can – and does – take many forms in Dubai, with themes, games, DJs and after-parties all thrown in to create a midday invitation to overindulge in food and drink. There’s clearly a market for it and, equally, there’s pressure on every restaurant in the city to follow suit, unearthing ever more novel ways to entice all-you-can-eat guests into their establishments.
Strip away all the hard-sell, though, and what we’re really dealing with is a communal meal, a celebration of the weekend with people who you have chosen to spend your free time with. Food and friends ought to be enough.
That certainly seems to be the emphasis at Raffles’ Friday brunch in their Azur restaurant – a venue that curves around a courtyard garden that might still be operative for another couple of weeks or so. It’s a big-hearted affair, with most of the tables full of large groups creating a country-house-on-Sunday hum, with a pleasing collision of conversation and crockery.
The food serving areas are essentially organised into three. The first island is divided between starters – where the usual tabbouleh, hummus and moutabbal sit cheek by jowl with an ice bar for oysters, langoustine and crab-filled avocado – and an array of desserts that requires a good deal of fortitude to ignore for the time being. The second area focuses on vegetables (try the dauphinoise potato and butternut squash), vegetarian dishes and a variety of Asian food.
The third, stretching along the front of the kitchen and clearly the main attraction for most diners in the room, is the carvery section – complete with roast beef, the soft, sticky goodness of braised short rib, steak and vegetable pie, Yorkshire puddings (perhaps a touch too crisp for perfectionists) and a multitude of gravy types. With a distinctly British feel, it is the anchor of the restaurant and the meal, with plates piled high with impossible portions.
We’ve seen the roast return to prominence in Dubai and, as counter-intuitive as it may be, the combination of rising temperatures and air-conditioning does lend itself to this squarest of square meals.
The offering here certainly compares with any roast dinner in the city – combining great cuts with a huge side-order of nostalgia.
Returning to the desserts, even if it might seem a challenge, you should find room for the cake lollipops – red velvet, chocolate – and the mini Bakewell tarts. Stronger constitutions can make a beeline for the apple and blackberry crumble. Whatever time you leave your white-clothed table at Azur on a Friday, you will do so with a rib-pinched groan. Gimmick-free, flavour-first and unpretentious, you almost expect someone to stand up, clink a glass and make a speech. The chef would probably deserve it.
Friday Brunch at Azur
Where: Raffles Dubai, Wafi
Price: From AED385
Contact: +9714 324 8888, www.raffles.com