I am sure that anyone can list Dubai’s best buffets, in terms of biggest and most varied spread, the best packages with drinks for Friday brunch, and the most glamorous settings. But what if you want something more intimate, with a real focus on the quality of the food and personal service, or if you are just plain tired of the over-the-topness of the places that normally come to mind?
Dine in the City has listed a few places that may not come to mind as quickly but deserve to stand out for good reason, whether it is the atmosphere, the attention to detail of staff or specific dietary requirements.
Rotisserie at One & Only Mirage
The One & Only Mirage is one of the most beautiful hotel properties in Dubai. Set on a huge swathe of land with landscaped gardens and a stretch of private beach it has 2 sections, the Arabian Court and the Palace, both designed in chic Arabic style. Driving up to the main building through the property is an experience in itself with magical twinkling lights. Walking through the building to get to Rotisserie is like walking through a palace, beautifully designed, lighted and scented.
The One & Only Mirage has not gone for the standard extensive buffet restaurant that every hotel has nowadays. Instead it has gone for a smaller buffet with a selection of salads and mezze for starters, and a set of dishes as main course that feel like they have been home-cooked in grandmother’s kitchen. Think traditional fare from around the world such as Boeuf Bourgignonne and lamb stew with prunes. Presented in pots and pans, with different side dishes such as mashed and roasted potatoes and buttered vegetables it feels homey. Just like the starters, there is also a selection of Arabic dishes for the main course – Rotisserie reputedly has the best Lamb Ouzi in Dubai, the traditional rice with morsels of meat that comes together with a succulently roasted lamb. For dessert there is a selection of well presented, small desserts such as Ile Flottante and Crème Brulée and some Arabic sweets such as Umm Ali and Baklava.
The best part about Rotisserie is that they have a small picturesque courtyard with a fountain, and a few tables, some of which are nestled into nooks. Arabian lamps and palm trees all around – it doesn’t get more romantic or intimate than this.
Arabesque at Park Hyatt
Another beautiful property, set near the creek and yacht club, the Park Hyatt is a beautifully designed property with Arabic influences, a lot of glass and light, that is well spread out to give ample views of the creek and the yachts.
On weekends, Café Arabesque has a buffet for dinner, which is usually a mix of Arabic and Indian fare. Similarly to Le Rotisserie it comes presented in a smaller selection of pots and pans, with some live stations, which make it feel like an extended kitchen.
For starters there are traditional Arabic dishes such as Humus and Muhamra, and a selection of olives. For main courses, there are lesser known Arabic dishes such as dumplings in yoghurt sauce, different lamb dishes, a selection of grilled meats and another fabulous Lamb Ouzi. Dessert is also a mix of Arabic choices such as Umm Ali and Kunafa as well as chocolate cake and sometimes a chocolate fountain!
What makes Arabesque stand out is not only the cosy atmosphere, but also the quality of the food, which is well prepared, nicely presented and tastes fresh and wholesome.
Cinnamon at Rotana Cove Resort in Ras al Khaimah
Living in Dubai you tend to forget how close the other Emirates are, and how beautiful some of them are. One such example for me is the Cove Rotana in Ras al Khaimah – set on the beach and sloping upwards with a mix of hotel rooms and villas it always feels like a holiday, even when you come only for a few hours.
The buffet restaurant Cinnamon is set a bit higher than the accommodation, pools and beach, and therefore has a lovely sweeping view over the ocean. Decked out in Bedouin décor, the buffet selection is largely Arabic themed, and although not as lavish or luxurious as some others, it is delicious and well prepared.
If you are very hungry, or want to show Dubai’s luxury to guests, there are 3 larger buffets that have stuck with me through the years, and that I really enjoy going back to.
Azure at Raffles
Azure at the Raffles in Wafi does fit the bill of the more over the top, lavish buffets. My sense is that as buffets get bigger, and are advertised not for their food quality but for the drinks, or the number of restaurants involved, the culinary side suffers. Azure is one exception to that – with a huge spread of European, Italian, Asian and Arabic dishes for starters, and main courses, that are all equally delicious and delectable.
Ewaan at The Palace Downtown
The Palace Downtown is another atmospheric property in Dubai, designed as an Arabian palace with arches and lovely scents wherever you go. Ewaan is the Palace’s buffet restaurant, with similar design and a big outdoor area looking out over the pool. On offer is a thoughtfully prepared mix of Arabic starters as well as sushi and salads, followed by Arabic mains such as grilled meats as well as more European dishes such as roast beef and grilled fish. Dessert is a true highlight with too many small options to choose from – chocolate tarts, cheesecakes, red velvet cakes, as well as freshly prepared crepes with more fillings than you can stomache.
Special mention: Kitchen6 at JW Marriott Marquis
I wanted to mention Kitchen6 specifically, because not only do they have a buffet that caters to every taste – with extensive Indian, Italian, European and Arabic mains and a huge selection of starters and salads, as well as a lovely dessert buffet, it is also one of the few buffets that makes gluten-free dining a bit easier. Most dishes are labeled, and indicate whether they are gluten, dairy and nut free. So if you have guests, friends or family members that need to be careful about what they eat, Kitchen6 is a great place to take them.