brunch the Dubai way
Many would say “you have not done Dubai until you’ve done brunch the Dubai way”. I don’t know that I’m necessarily one of them, but I think many people would find the concept of ‘brunch’ in Dubai quite a fascinating one. They are famous all over the world (apparently), although I wasn’t aware of it until I moved here and was invited to one. Unfortunately! I think it’s a pretty important concept to be aware of as there are some essential things to understand before you go. And thus, I am taking a moment out of my somewhat quiet weekend to try to teach some valuable lessons to the uninitiated visitor to Dubai who gets extended the inevitable ‘brunch’ invitation.
Before I start, let me explain what ‘brunch’ is where I am from.
The word ‘brunch’ conjures up some happy images in my mind – lazy Sunday mornings, sleeping in, warming cuppa on the deck, eventually stroll on down to somewhere with a nice view or some friendly ambiance to order your eggs, bacon, maybe some salmon and spinach, frappe, juice, all washed down with awesome coffee. If you’re lucky, a newspaper or good book to while away the morning, or, if you are us, some colouring in, cars and trucks and a bit of yelling and “stop throwing your food around” comments here and there before aborting the mission to head to the park.
And so, with this concept happily entrenched in my mind, I awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed one Friday morning, ready to head to my first ladies Dubai ‘brunch’. I left around midday, completely starving (being used to having brunch at more like 10am) but looking forward to a good girly afternoon. I dressed down for the occasion in jeans, sandles and t-shirt, completely unprepared for what awaited me. As I headed out the door, lovely hubby calls out “make sure you’re home before midnight please”, a comment I find exceedingly strange but don’t think too much of, assuming he’s just joking around.
Hint number one – when your hubby who has been living somewhere a good few month longer than you and has attended a similar function before calls a warning like that, take heed my friends!
So I get out of the cab close to the venue and start to walk the rest of the way to find the restaurant. As I get closer, I begin to notice I am increasingly being surrounded by very tall, very thin, very tanned and very made-up ladies. They all have heels that make my lower back ache just looking at them and skirts that make me a little stressed whether or not they have worn clean underwear given that one puff of wind or one dropped item that has to be picked up will expose said undies to every fascinated onlooker within a 20m radius! (I know – I’m old!) I’m wondering whether there’s a wedding or some kind of celebrity party in one of the restaurants nearby and feel somewhat glad that I’m just going to brunch and don’t need to dress up like that! hmm
Hind number two – it is ALL about the bling and the outfits.
Dubai is a very stylish city where fashion, grooming and style are not for the faint hearted. The name of the day at brunch is short, designer, flashy, impossibly high heels and completely immaculate hair and makeup (at least at the start of brunch anyway)! Don’t be fooled by the innocent title of the event! This is a fashion show and an opportunity to be styling till you drop!
As I hop into the lift with a huge gaggle of these mysterious, perfumed, immaculate creatures, I begin to feel a sense of foreboding as they select the same floor as me. I am beginning to get the distinct feeling that I may have underdressed.
We arrive at the restaurant and I am greeted by a sea of, what can only be described as, ‘the beautiful ones’. Everywhere I look people are dripping in jewelery, their hair done up, heels, tans, sparkly dresses. I stop for a moment to hopelessly apply some tinted lip gloss, whilst sighing with resignation at the realisation that this is no ordinary brunch. However, I hold my head high and head for the maitre d, another strikingly gorgeous exotic bird, and walk to my table, albeit on my toes as I pretend that I wore heels, hoping no-one will notice
At my table, the girls are all super friendly. They are a much nicer blend of looking naturally gorgeous and not over the top given that laid-back Aussie/Irish sense of style and class that is famous around the world. I express my extreme hunger and am greeted with a laugh, perhaps even a bit of a snort as I am asked what I would like to drink. “She’ll have two of those” the lovely lady next to me shouts as I meekly protest that, one’s really enough and is there some bread or something I can nibble before I pass out.
Hint number three – it’s not about the food you goober!!
Brunches will often have some great food in the form of buffets, set menus and all you can eat. But they also generally include an all you can drink package with whatever your favourite thing is. There seems to be an unwritten rule that you MUST consume as much as your body can physically injest before the 3-4 hours is done. There’s almost a frenzy in the air as people order, shout and wangle to line up as many drinks as they think they can injest in a couple of hours as the clock ticks down to the end of the brunch.
I was unprepared for this last-minute mayhem and I was quietly sitting and chatting away to a really lovely new friend when all of a sudden I was being drilled from across the table – “how many have you had Emma? I’ve only seen two? What’s going on? Waiter – line ’em up!…. etc etc” It’s quite hilarious and before I know it, I’m sitting there chugging down glass after glass and wondering what ever happened to my quiet little eggs Benedict?
I look around and notice that some of the exotic birds seem to be starting to waiver. There’s a lot of teetering around on those impossibly high heels. I’m afraid my sad prediction on the undies came true at least once and some of that once immaculate mascara doesn’t appear to be as waterproof as was promised on the expensive little box. The wheels are ever so slightly starting to fall off I fear and for once, I’m glad I underdressed as at least I have less chance of actually breaking my ankle in flats!
They finally call ‘time’ and I sigh with a small sense of relief that I can head home to lie down and die in peace when I overhear the next plan for the journey – after brunch party!
Hint number four – brunch never ends at brunch!
Next thing I know, I’ve been packed up in a cab and I’m heading for the nearby ‘liquid brunch’ venue. Things are getting a little fuzzy at this point but I’m still able to realise that I’m heading downstairs into a garden with some exceptionally loud music that appears to be heaving with people, all in a similar state to me. I get the obligatory identifying arm band and then it’s off to boogie away on the dance floor. Hours and hours and hours later, the cab drops me off at home. I’ve only just made the midnight curfew set down by my lovely hubby and he chuckles away watching me try to take off my sandles after I stumble blindly through the door. “Have a good time?’ he asks wryly as I fall over sideways trying to undo that damn strap and sometime later, he pours me into bed with the little red bucket and tall glass of iced water there ready for when I wake up in the middle of the night dying to pee and feeling like death.
Hint number five – getting home before midnight – priceless!!
I wake up in the morning, unsure how this all happened and what had transpired that possessed me to stay out at brunch for close to 11 hours! Was this normal behaviour? Is this what people mean when they talk about the legendary Dubai brunch? As my hubby held up the ATM receipt with a questioning look on his face I wondered what could have possibly compelled me to spend that much money as well?
“I think we can safely say you’ve been initiated” he chuckled and I realised he was right. I had attended my first Dubai brunch and proudly survived to tell the tale. Now, how people do this every weekend I don’t really know. I can only assume they have much more resilient stomachs and livers than me! The amazing thing though is that there are so many incredible venues here with everything you could possibly ever want in a huge party. Views, ambiance, mystery, every type of cuisine, every type of drink, some classy, some not so classy – there is such an immense choice of places that you really could have brunch every Friday for a year and not see them all.
Is that something I will be doing? No – not at all! I am quite content with our Friday morning eggs Benedict and coffee at one of the many cosy cafes around the place while the children chatter away and smear both me and the table with jam and crumbs. There is a part of me that would like to be dressing up and whiling away the afternoons in a sea of bubbles and dancing but I think that every now and then is best for me and my bank account for now.
And for those of you who are still uninitiated, I look forward to sharing your first time when you are in Dubai if you are brave enough!
Have a fabulous week all!