It’s the weekend, which means it’s time for long, lazy brunches enjoying the spring weather in Dubai. Can’t find your way to Europe just yet? Two new options have hit the emirate, each with its own vibe and Mediterranean flair: the Italian Isola Ristorante and the Spanish Lola Taberna Española.
Can’t get to the Italian Riviera? Brunch at Isola Ristorante will transport you to the idyllic coast of Capri, right here in Dubai and a quick 15 minutes from Marina and Downtown. Located at Jumeirah Islands Clubhouse, the chic “neighborhood oasis” nestled between Springs and JLT, Isola Ristorante offers an elegant option for Saturday afternoons. Its light-filled, beautiful space promises a chic Mediterranean experience filled with fresh fare and sunshine, nary a stuffed pizza crust in sight. Situated next to the pool, overlooking the lakes and villas, and with an elegant terrace for outdoor dining, Isola is the sophisticated spot you’ve been looking for. The three course sharing menu starts as it means to go on – with fresh, seasonal servings showcasing the lively, authentic tastes of South Italy that put ingredients front and center. While the menu is updated weekly to ensure the best produce, there are a few standout dishes to look out for.
Starters kick off with an antipasti platter that comes loaded with large green Cerignola olives, sharp Parmigiano, and a selection of cured meats, with green pea arancini and zingy insalata di mare (seafood salad) as well. Mains up the ante even further, with an exquisite pappardelle al ragout, sea bream with eoliana sauce, and a vegetarian potato pesto lasagna so good you’ll want to keep savoring it throughout the afternoon. But then it’s time for dessert: a delicate offering of hazelnut and chocolate profiteroles and chocolate and pistachio cannoli, the final sweet touch to a delectable brunch.
While you should definitely book your table for the food, la dolce vita ambience, and the excellent service, what elevates Isola’s brunch above the usual weekend blowout is Mark Zitti’s Italian swing band. The maestro knows how to hold a relaxed, happy crowd in the palm of his hand, building from laid-back afternoon vibes to sundowner swing.
Location: Isola Ristorante, Jumeirah Islands Clubhouse
Price: AED 250 per person for soft drinks package; AED 375 per person for house beverages package
When: Every Saturday, 1-4pm
Lola Taberna Española
Lola Taberna Española has taken over where Barbary used to be, in Barsha Heights. This fun, lively La Fiesta Saturday brunch offers inside and outside seating in an enclosed courtyard, with a fun young crowd ready to make the most of the weekend. The space is intimate yet not cramped, making it easy to make friends with the table next door, or to enjoy your own group.
The menu features a delectable selection of Spain’s finest – think patatas chips, olives, and a very generous Serrano Spanish ham and Manchego cheese board to start, followed by more cold tapas. A Spanish omelet is refreshingly complemented with a green salad and Basque peppers. That’s if you can tear yourself away from the deliciously fresh and zesty sea bass tiradito – wafer thin slices of delectable fish that melt in the mouth. Full yet? Make space for hot tapas, as wagyu beef meatballs, patatas bravas, and eggs with chorizo arrive. And make sure the bowl of piquant Padrón peppers is placed right in front of you! But the star of the show is a giant pan of paella – after all, what is a Spanish brunch without everyone’s favorite classic rice dish? As plates of flavorful paella is passed around, close your eyes and savor the rich Valencian spices, its smoky, spicy aromas fooling you into thinking you’re on the Spanish coast. And of course, your sweet tooth will also leave satisfied with a delicate dessert of profiteroles with chocolate and cream.
The Lola Taberna Española vibe is energetic and fun, without being overwhelming, like so many Dubai brunches tend to get closer to 4pm. The music lifts the spirits, while the service is unintrusive. At a reasonable AED 199 for soft drinks package, this is definitely one for the books. Buen provencho!
Location: Lola Taberna Española, Tryp by Wyndham Dubai, Barsha Heights
Price: AED 199 per person for soft drinks package; AED 249 per person for house beverages package; AED 299 for unlimited sparkling package
When: Every Saturday, 1-4pm