Giardino – Palazzo Versace, Dubai

A recent arrival to the Dubai scene, the newest hotel of the iconic house of Versace has opened a range of dining options within it’s quarters (including Enigma – view my review here) – I was invited to check out Giardino’s Friday brunch offerings at a Zomato meet up.

The first thing you’ll notice about the venue is the striking palm frond pattern used in abundance around the venue – walls, chairs, uniforms. I loved this idea of almost decking the staff and fittings out in a modern camouflage of sorts, it gave a great impression stylistically. Apparently the print is inspired by the famous plunging green dress J Lo wore to the Grammies some years ago, and is a cool tie in to the fashion house heritage.  There were some odd circles of varying bright colours on the walls however that distracted from the oh-so-cool green visage, they really didn’t fit in visually for me. The Versace medusa head featured regularly around the offering, as well as the greek key pattern being etched into the glasses which was a nice touch.

On to the food! If you are a seafood lover, this is one you should really try out. Mountains and mountains of seafood await the voracious pescatarian or seafood fan. It also featured heavily in the gorgeous sushi offerings, I imagine one could fill their entire stomach just at this station if so desired and leave rather happy.

An Indian station was also a prominent feature, which I didn’t really understand too much concept wise. It seems to be a Dubai disease – trying to be all things to everyone, and a vast range of international cuisines all mixed into one is often seen in brunches here. And that leads me to my next point – everyone tries to be ‘international’ and all encompassing when it comes to Friday brunch, so following that path is not really filling a gap in the market here. What I do love to see, is restaurants that have a strong identity and unique selling point – and I think Giardino’s strength lies in it’s Italian and European offerings.

Speaking of Italian and Euro offerings, the cheese station showcased some wild and wonderful cheeses (one of which was a deep red wine hue), including Italian burrata, my all time favourite. I loved that they had included this in their offering. Foie gras terrine and foie gras creme brûlée were also very classy additions that elevated this brunch.

The pasta on offer was superb – my favourite was the cacio e pepe – a pecorino and pepper pasta dish made at a roving station at our table. Topped with deep fried artichoke, this was my favourite dish of the day and I struggled to put it down so I could save room to try more of their offerings! The other pasta dishes are also good, including a gnocchi served in a heavy mushroom soup like sauce. The biggest miss however was the pizza that had a thick, almost cake like base  – nothing at all like I’ve had in Italy, and more like one that comes out of a frozen pizza box. This one needs a rework and a wood fired pizza oven installed perhaps!

The desserts were masterfully crafted and presented, alongside a chocolate coliseum and leaning tower of Pisa. They impressed more than the usual brunch dessert bites, and I liked most of them. There’s also a moving ice cream station that will serve you up a cone combination of your choosing – I didn’t dare risk a messy end however, but it was well received!

A cocktail station outside will rustle you up an Aperol Spritz (but of course) – I recommend the passionfruit mojito which was fab (as ever since my trip to Venice I just can’t do Aperol)! The pinot grigio and sparkling on offer were also pleasant, though I’d love to see a rose option.

My overall verdict for this brunch is it’s a classy, laid back affair, it seemed to be popular with large family celebrations when we visited which seemed rather suited to what Italian hospitality is known for (you can use the pool pre and post brunch too as part of the ticket price). Personally, I would love to see Giardino follow a path closer to it’s Italian roots and ditch the international fare – the Italian food was the pick of the bunch, or should that be brunch. I think there’s an opening for the best Italian brunch in town, will Giardino step up to take the crown?

Verdict: 80/100

Giardino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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