Nestled in the ground floor corner of Novotel Al Barsha, Cravin’ Cajun successfully allows diners to forget they’re in an urban business hotel with its New Orleans-themed art works, displays of the venues range of smoothies and speciality infusions and concoctions, and pleasantly low ceilings that avoid the cavernous echoes common to many hotel restaurant brunch experiences.
There was a decidedly laid back feel to the whole affair. Background house music was played at a level that allowed conversation and the diners were mostly made up of couples or small groups of friends who were clearly there for plentiful good food and pleasant conversation rather than a high-tempo brunch extravaganza.
Buckets is the theme of the day. On arrival, we were presented with a selection of buckets on our table containing the kind of southern soul food Cravin’ Cajun is already known for — southern fried chicken fingers, fried seafood bites, onion rings, cooked lobster tails, potato wedges and buffalo chicken wings all hit the spot. The buckets could have served as a meal in their own right, and it’s nice to have the pain of choosing taken care of for you, but there were also plenty of other options at the serve-yourself stations. Main courses ranged from Cajun favourites like Mardi Gras rice with sausage, to dishes from the other side of the Atlantic like a huge, juicy steak and kidney pie, and the menu crept to the West too with a selection of TexMex fare such as chicken tacos and beef quesadilla. The health conscious were looked after too, with a range of a dozen pre-prepared salads as well as a make-your-own salad bar. Smoked salmon and poached egg bagels should have tempted those whose brunch was serving as a late breakfast.
The less waistline-conscious could easily bypass the salad options and head for the vast desert station which covered all bases. Buckets were in vogue once more here — buckets of strawberry trifle, buckets of profiteroles, of muffins, of cookies lined up alongside classics like New York cheesecake and the perennial brunch chocolate fountain — white chocolate in this case, which was a nice change.
Who’s it best for?
Anyone looking for a good, solid, value for money brunch with plenty of comfort food in a relaxed atmosphere. There’s no speciality options for kids, but the notion of lunch in a selection of buckets should keep little hands amused for a while by itself.
A great new addition to the mid-price brunch sector. The quality of food in Cravin’ Cajun has never been in doubt, and although some of our favourites from the à la carte menu were absent on the day, the huge variety on offer should ensure there’s something for everyone. Full marks for friendly, efficient service too.
The National was a guest of the restaurant.
• Fridays 12.30pm to 4pm. From Dh195. Cravin' Cajun, Novotel Al Barsha. Tel +971 4 304 9000