A journal, inspired by my love for my daughter, that embraces quality food, service and experiences which make life worth living. In the words of Tennyson's Ulysses, " I cannot rest from travel. I will drink life to the lees." Seeking that incredible dining or hotel experience and writing about it. Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Friday brunch at Palazzo Versace Hotel - Dubai
After a couple years in the city, Palazzo Versace has not lost any of its cache. It still has the ability to evoke feelings of luxury and opulence when one hears the name. If you have any doubts, step into the lobby. However, it is easy to get swept away by this when trying the hotel's restaurants and there is a temptation to succumb to the halo effect. It is a challenge to separate these and view its restaurants in terms more than the overall experience but also to look at, well, food and drink.
I recently tried their brunch again, seated on the said terrace, and with the above in mind, these are some of my thoughts.
It is a brunch that starts the moment you pull up to the hotel. It continues with the well spoken doorman directing you to the venue. Stop and stare in the lobby. Take a moment. This is part of your brunch. It is the venue with its intoxicating splendour. The hotel's Friday brunch is hosted in Giardino, or 'Garden', with its distinctive interior where 'a wallcovering inspired by the jungle motif of Versace wallpaper collection' but for me it is the terrace with its sweeping views of the pool and palms that evokes feelings of splendour and nowness - the latter because I do not want to go anywhere else at that moment; there is no yesterday or a glimpse of tomorrow. Just the moment. Nowness.
Stand out stations
I would say the Indian and Italian stations, the latter hardly surprising, stood out for me. The chaat served at the Indian station were authentic and fun at the same time while the Italian station, with 5 different types of pasta, excelled in sheer variety. A risotto perhaps as a pass around? Also, it was nice to see a sushi station with a lot of choice as well and kudos for the presentation of the sushi. In addition, the pastry station was another winner, with desserts beautifully done. They made me want to start with dessert! Finally, while not a station, the drinks on offer kept me interested. Although there is no distinction between the top tier packages other than the French bubbly, I still enjoyed the cocktails. Make sure to have a mimosa and of course an Aperol Spritz!
The way ahead
I say this often - when I arrive at a brunch that is primarily a buffet, after 5 minutes of exploring, I know what to expect. There are no more surprises. The same can can be said about a set menu, although presentation remains a surprise there. Nonetheless, this is where restaurants can add that wow element by doing pass arounds, by giving the guest something unexpected. Pop up stations? Personally, I miss the ice cream and pasta trolleys that I experienced on my last visit. Why? Because they were such an out of the box experience. I am told that trolleys will be back at the next brunch. A pity. Finally, I champagne should not be the only drink that distinguishes the premium package from the mid range package. The difference should be in the wines, spirits and cocktails too.
Overall, the Brunch at Palazzo Versace will continue to be popular. It has all the elements that most brunches have and even though I feel it misses that overall wow factor - I tried 36 brunches in 2017 - it delivers in most areas. Although the brunch exudes luxury and exclusivity, it remains very grounded and also family friendly. It is not just about beautiful people strutting around in their Louboutins. I for one enjoy the sound of children laughing and they contribute to the soul of this brunch - note that pool access is included at the moment. It is, therefore, a relaxed brunch, with a gentleman in tasteful designer shorts not out of place.
The brunch is also very well priced. A premium brunch experience that includes one of the best brunch champagnes in the city, the R de Ruinart and goes for 650AED is indeed an excellent deal. Add to this the stations you would expect at bunch of this stature and of course fabulous address and you have a brunch that will check the boxes for most people.
The Essentials Giardino Friday Brunch Palazzo Versace Dubai +971 4 556 8888 Friday Brunch at Giardino Brunch 1-4pm Non-alcoholic package 350AED Prosecco package 550AED French champagne package 650AED