Brunch at: Mint Leaf of London, DIFC, Dubai

The street food starters at Mint Leaf of London brunch. Rob Garratt / The National
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The location

In a city with such a large Indian expat population — and such geographical proximity to the world’s seventh largest country — Mint Leaf of London marks a culinary curiosity. The restaurant is clearly proud of being born in Europe, 10,000 miles from the Indian capital — it’s in the title, after all.

Perhaps with half-an-eye on capturing the class of jet-setters already familiar with the two London branches, here Mint Leaf is reborn in affluent DIFC, on the 15th floor of Emirates Financial Towers. Don’t let the droll, businesslike, locale put you off — the restaurant’s vantage offers great views of Downtown and Burj Khalifa through, curved, ceiling-tall windows. The space is smartly split between a formal restaurant and informal lounge area, separated by the central bar space.

The atmosphere

In a part of town known for pretension, if not outright-snobbery, Mint Leaf offers a welcome respite. Not that it isn’t stylish — the space is chicly furnished, with a trendy open kitchen in the centre. Wooden furniture contrasts with cool metallic surfaces, clashing with little sense of drama. But there’s no air of exclusivity — when we visited there was a mix of couples, friends, and large family groups enjoying a lazy Saturday lunch. Meanwhile the DJ kept the mood suitably relaxed with a party playlist of retro classics from Madonna to the Ghostbusters theme tune. While this wasn’t the kind of brunch where people were about to get up for a boogie, the soundtrack served to amply dispel any unwelcome mood of exclusivity.

The food

Mint Leaf thankfully follows the growing trend for à la carte brunching — there’s a set six-course menu, with taster portions of everything delivered to your table, but the option to order more of anything you choose. There’s also a stand-alone vegetarian alternative menu.

The opening two “street food” courses offered a welcome entry, with a nice, tangy masala chana chaat (chickpea salad) served alongside tandoori broccoli — the chewy vegetable balanced by a soft cream cheese sauce — and a small, tasty vegetable and quinoa kebab parcel (subz quinoa seekh).

Next came the meat tandoori course, with the murgh ka sule (cornfed chicken) softer than the lahori boti (chicken served on the bone), or the skewered lamb seekh kebab. The veggie alternative offered a soft, beetroot and mint cake, and a mustardy South Indian rice and cheese ball.

Next things move onto seafood, with a varied results. While I enjoyed the marinated salmon, and the sigiri prawns ticked a box, the achaari hammour was a little tough for my taste. The vegetarian menu here featured a classic paneer tikka.

For those with space to spare, the next course would be sure to fill stomachs: the curries. The mushroom do piaza was my top draw, layered in a more-ish, light, creamy sauce. The dal was a strong staple well done, but the paneer butter masala was perhaps a little sweet.

However the dark, heavy tomato base of the lamb bhoona was sublime, and the classic punjabi chicken masala fared well.

Who’s it best for?

Anyone with any interest in Indian food. The menu is modern but accessible, and for all the venue’s sophistication and class, the vibe is suitably relaxed to welcome daytime diners aged from seven to 70. While not exactly a budget option, for an a la carte brunch of this standard and locale, all the packages offer fair value for money, too.

Bottom line

Quality Indian cuisine in chic but laid-back surroundings, at a reasonable price.

• Fridays and Saturdays 1pm-4.30pm, from Dh195. Mint Leaf of London, Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC (reservations 04 706 0900). www.mintleaf.ae.

The National was a guest of the venue