From picnics to buffets and a la carte feasts: the Friday brunch takes on a whole new meaning across the UAE's hotels and restaurants - here are 14 new brunches to try in the UAE, from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.
1. The Village Kitchen, Le Méridien Abu Dhabi
It is just a few weeks old, but the new offering at Le Méridien is another outdoor concept that combines the flavours of The Village restaurants. Park yourself on the evergreen oasis and enjoy a menu that includes Italian, Greek, British and international fare. As with so many of the brunches launching in the capital, the dishes come to you, which means you can have a relaxed day that doesn't require much physical exertion. The food is served continually until you signify you are full (by turning your coaster to red). There is also a band to keep you entertained as you eat.
Fridays, 1pm to 4pm, from Dh135; www.thevillageat
2. Brunch at Dino's Bistro Italiano, Pearl Rotana Capital Centre
The newest Rotana hotel on the capital block is wasting no time launching its weekend brunch. The Pearl Rotana Capital Centre opens its doors on Saturday, and soon after will be welcoming guests to Dino's, where family is the focus. We're promised there will be a good selection of antipasti available, as well as freshly made pasta – the best kind – and wood-fired pizzas.
Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 4pm, from Dh165; call 02 307 5555
3. Dolce Vita, Cipriani Yas Island
Those who have eaten at Cipriani know that a trip to the Yas Island waterfront establishment is usually an elegant, sophisticated, fine-dining affair. On Friday, the Italian favourite is launching its monthly Dolce Vita brunch, one that promises to combine traditional dishes with board games – yes, you read that correctly, board games. There will be appetisers, mains and desserts, designed for sharing and served to the table, as well as a live sushi chef.
March 9, April 13 and May 11, 1pm to 5pm, from Dh412; www.ciprianiyasisland.com
4. Feast Like an Emperor, Hakkasan, Emirates Palace
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi has reworked its popular Hakka Brunch and transformed its Friday offering into a Feast Like an Emperor event. In a bid to up the weekend ante, the new brunch uses exclusive ingredients and continues it "culinary theatre" experience. Along with the restaurant's expanded terrace, makes this worth a visit. Guests can enjoy a carefully chosen selection of Hakkasan's most popular dim sum and small eats, from Wagyu beef truffle puff to Foie gras and crab Xiao Long Bao to braised superior seafood soup with black truffle and fish maw. And if the food and theatre aren't enough, there is a resident DJ in the house, too.
Fridays, noon to 4pm, from Dh318; www.hakkasan.com
5. The Ultimate Picnic, Bab Al Qasr
One of the most Arabesque hotels in the emirate has recently launched its nine-hour casual street-food brunch that promises a twist on the norm. Choose from interactive stations serving waffles, pancakes and pizzas or feast on burgers, tacos and ice cream. Between courses, the family-friendly, picnic-style set-up allows families
to enjoy play time and a
Fridays and Saturdays, 1pm to 10pm, from Dh180; www.babalqasr.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
6. 3in1, Vida Downtown, Business Bay
Vida's "urban picnic" brunch has gone Latin. Between the tacos and nacho station, the sandwich station, live grills, piñata bashing and pizza (OK, so it's not all Latin), you are led on a culinary journey through Latin America and beyond. As you enter, you are handed a picnic basket and set on your way – an unspoken challenge to see how much food you can stuff within its wicker confines. And just when you think you are far too overwhelmed with choices, your waitress will inevitably tell you not to fill up too much on the "starters", because your main course – a chicken quesadilla accompanied by fritos platanos, black beans and Mexican rice – is still to come. While there is little in the way of the grassy meadows that a picnic would infer anywhere else in the world, the green paddocks are left to your imagination here. There are squares of artificial grass poolside, however, and if you strain your neck, you are afforded views of the Burj Khalifa, which indeed makes it an "urban picnic".
Fridays, 1pm to 5pm, from Dh310; www.vidahotels.com
7. 7Elephants, Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC
After opening to much fanfare last year, the all-compassing 7Elephants is now offering its own brunch. As with the venue's regular à la carte menu, the brunch attempts to cover all its bases in terms of cuisines, offering a range of Indian, Balinese, Arabic, British, Italian, Spanish and Mexican dishes. It seems haphazard, but there is method in the madness: each dish is sourced from one of the countries of the "seven traders" – apparently the septet of stock-market traders who founded the bar. This tale also the reason behind the stock-market screens and downloadable stock-market app menu. Basically, it is a melting pot of cuisines, and a bit of a pick 'n' mix as to what you will get, but the jungle-themed setting is quirky and the view over Downtown Dubai is a nice way to while away the afternoon.
Friday, noon to 4pm, from Dh195; www.7elephantsdubai.com
8. Billionaire Mansion terrace, Billionaire Mansion, Business Bay
If daytime dining isn't in your repertoire, Billionaire Mansion should be speaking your language. Italian business mogul and former Renault Formula One team boss Flavio Briatore's downtown dining and partying hub has zoned in on late-night brunching. On Thursday night, The Hub Brunch is held on the terrace, with sharing plates to start and for dessert, and a choice of a main dish. After having your fill, you will be invited to the club, where three DJs will test your post-meal stamina. On Frida,y the Crazy Drunch is calling anyone who isn't ready to get out of bed for a daytime brunch, or has been to a daytime brunch and wants to follow that one up with another. It is more or less the same deal – a selection of food, live entertainment and DJs, then an invitation to the club – just on a Friday.
Thursdays, 8pm to midnight, and Fridays, 7pm to midnight, from Dh450; www.billionairemansiondubai.com/brunch
9. The Blacksmith Smokehouse, The Wyndham, Dubai Marina
The Marina has a new steakhouse, and it wants you to know it takes its meat very seriously. The Wyndham's new restaurant has just started serving up its best selection of southern American comfort foods as part of its "itis" brunch, which – according to Urban Dictionary – is an American idiom referring to the "drowsy, sleepy feeling" you get after a large meal. There is live music, so for an afternoon, you can envisage a laid-back bar on Canal Street in New Orleans.
Fridays, 1pm to 4pm, from Dh219; www.theblacksmithdubai.com
10. Carluccio's, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Garhoud
Carluccio's has answered every pizza-lover's prayers by starting its first all-you-can-eat affair, where it is socially acceptable to gobble down your own body weight in pizza and pasta. The Jumeirah Creekside location is the first licensed Carluccio's outlet in Dubai, but the brunch is family-friendly. You will find a kids' corner with gelato cart, face painting and balloons for smaller brunch-goers. Better still, it is now on The Entertainer, so if you order the soft drinks package, the two-for-one offer makes it only Dh97.50 per person.
Fridays, noon to 3.30pm, from Dh195 (children under 12 eat free); www.jumeirah.com
11. Galvin Dubai, City Walk
Not partial to the rowdy weekend binge that a Friday brunch inevitably becomes? Galvin has you covered with a much more subdued affair. At their "UnBrunch", you will be served "exquisite culinary art", accompanied by live music. The restaurant – from Michelin-starred chef brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin – serves a three-course prix fixe menu (a pre-selected list of dishes at a set price, for the uninitiated) featuring their best Mediterranean cuisine. The central main dish has options such as risotto of charred aubergine, homemade comte tortellini, grilled beef sirloin or braised lamb shoulder – it isn't exactly a load-your-plate-high-from-the-buffet experience. You can choose whether to add a drinks package or not, and just before you think it is a totally sophisticated event, there is an after party, too.
Friday and Saturday, noon to 4pm, from Dh185; www.galvindubai.com
12. Megayacht Lotus Brunch Cruise, at sea
If regular Dubai brunches aren't opulent enough for you, this is an even more palatial destination for your weekend gathering: on board a 220-foot-long yacht. Dubai's newest brunch is at sea, sailing around the Arabian Gulf. The world's largest yacht is reportedly the Azzam (which is 590 feet long), and this brunch yacht, called the Lotus, is about a third the size of that, making it among top few hundred largest yachts in the world. It features all the normal trappings of brunch: live cooking stations, a buffet and entertainment, but from the confines of a luxury yacht. Being sold as "the world's first mega yacht brunch cruise", it sails around the Burj Al Arab and Atlantis, The Palm during the trip. The Lotus has a huge sun deck and fully air-conditioned indoor lounge, a swimming pool with waterfall and jets, a 200-capacity nightclub, an on-board 60-seat cinema, a VIP Jacuzzi area, 11 bedrooms and five decks.
Fridays and Saturdays, 1pm from outside Dubai Marina Mall, with 5pm drop-off at Pier 7 in Dubai Marina, from Dh149; www.easyyacht.ae/lotus-brunch-cruise
13. Scape, Burj Al Arab
Hanging out for a trip to Malibu or Manhattan Beach, but used up all your leave over the winter? Well, apparently now you can just head along to the Burj Al Arab for your fill of the Golden State. Dubai's most iconic beachfront landmark has launched a "California-fusion" brunch at Scape, on the Burj Al Arab's terrace. But there will be no shuttling back and forth from the buffet table here, because it is all served straight to your table. Think sushi doughnuts, Angus beef tataki, tempura, quesadillas and burrata to start, followed by chicken and octopus, lobster, braised short ribs and glazed Baltic salmon for mains, and sweet tacos, ice cream sandwiches or a doughnut cheesecake for dessert.
Saturday, 12.30pm to 4.30pm, from Dh495; www.jumeirah.com
Ras Al Khaimah
14. Farmhouse, The Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert Resort
Go wild and check out the newest night brunch in Ras Al Khaimah. The family-friendly evening is held within the confines of the Al Wadi Nature Reserve at the Farmhouse restaurant. The farm-to-table concept includes authentic, local produce and dishes such as smokehouse chicken wings with barbecue glaze, braised meatballs and crab sliders. The rustic charm will make you happy you joined, and there is also a jazz saxophonist to entertain you throughout the evening.
Thursdays from 6pm, Dh370 (children under 6 eat free); www.ritzcarlton.com