If there’s one question that comes up often when chatting with my Dubai friends, it’s “Where is the best place to brunch in Dubai?” After all, Friday brunch is an institution in Dubai. For that reason I have a dedicated page for my favorite brunch options. Yet despite the explosion of dining options, my Friday brunch go-to’s remain the same year after year. But there’s a brand new addition to my list now – the Café Belge Alfresco Brunch at the Ritz Carlton DIFC. To set the mood, let’s start with this:
Now when I think DIFC, I definitely don’t think Friday brunch. After all, as the weather cools, you want an outdoors venue that doesn’t scream corporate. So I wasn’t expecting much. But when a venue is described as 1920’s “vintage glamor”, my attention was sparked.
I can usually tell within the first 5 minutes if I’m going to like a place and Café Belge’s vibe just brings you in – from the live saxophone player, to the female DJ spinning an excellent set, and of course a glass of champagne to get started. You can choose from three beverage packages: AED 325 for soft drinks, AED 450 for wine, beer and select cocktails, and AED 575 for everything + Laurent Perrier Brut champagne. The cocktail selection is limited but well done and my favorite drink of the afternoon was the Kriek’s Spritz – a blend of Kriek beer, prosecco and rhubarb syrup.
Cafe Belge has a seated brunch concept – all starters and mains are brought to your table. You can repeat anything you liked but there is so much food that I suggest to avoid that. Even for a table of four, the food was overwhelming and we barely managed to eat 50% of what was brought.
The first course is a fresh seafood platter with lobster, mussels, oysters, shrimp and more. And if you need even more oysters, there are the girls from Oyster Elite to come by and give you fresh shucks – a seafood lover’s paradise. This is followed by six more appetizers including smoked salmon, tuna tartar, foie gras waffle bites, scrambled egg, petite quiche and goat cheese toast. Like I said, plenty of food!
At this point you get a short break to walk around and explore the gorgeous interiors before the live beef tartar trolley comes around and is prepared table side. Then come the main courses with seven options: beef chateaubriand, beer braised chicken, baked sea bass, vegetable ratatouille, modules champagnes cream, grilled salmon and potato gratin.
With all that food it’s hard to say what stood out but special mention for the oysters, lobster, mussels, salmon and potato gratin. And if you still have some space, walk over to the dessert room and make sure to get fresh warm belgian waffles topped with your favorite accompaniments.
And while the food was excellent, it’s the vibe that’ll take me back here. The restaurant is airy and the music adds just the right background noise. I would definitely book on the terrace while the weather is great. And even though the cocktails are free flowing, it doesn’t get “messy” as the crowd is a bit sophisticated for that. It’s an excellent venue to catch-up with friends where all your food is top quality and a very good price for all that seafood.
Bonus, if you’re a shisha junkie like me, end your brunch with a drink/smoke at the Sunken Garden at the Ritz. It’s adjacent to Café Belge’s terrace and is a hidden gem in the middle of DIFC’s concrete jungle. They do excellent shisha and a mean old fashioned. Perfect end to a perfect brunch.
Café Belge might have dethroned Al Qasr as my go-to brunch to take visitors. Because while Al Qasr might have the largest spread of food, quality beats quantity and it’s the vibe of Cafe Belge that makes it my new favorite.
What: Café Belge Alfresco Brunch,
Every Friday, 12-4 pm
Why: Ritz luxury and service with
Where: Ritz Carlton, DIFC
How much: AED 325: Soft beverages;
AED 450: Belgian beers by the draught, wine & signature cocktails;
AED 575: Champagne, Belgian beers by the draught, wine & signature cocktails
Pros: The food, drinks, vibe!
Cons: Not for vegetarians
Rating: 4.5 stars
Disclaimer: This review contains a product/service that was provided for consideration by the brand or its PR firm.