November 7, 2016 / Leave a Comment
Ask any Emirates cabin crew member enroute to Dubai which is the best brunch on offer in DXB and it’s likely they’ll enthusiastically espouse, ‘Saffron!’. It’s a brunch with a reputation that precedes itself, well known for epitomising the essence of the ‘Dubai Brunch’ – indulgence and party vibes!
Rocking up to Saffron (at the world famous Atlantis the Palm no less), it’s evident the party has started even before you step in the front door. Photo walls set for your grand entrance and bubbles ready to provide relief from the Dubai heat are clear signs that Saffron means business. The crowd is a clash of cultures – part gaggles of mid-twenties revellers clambering for entry, part Atlantis holiday maker groups. One thing’s for sure, they’re all here to brunch as only Dubai does.
Once you get inside, it’s even more huge than expected – though being the Atlantis, I should have expected a brunch of this magnitude. We take an almost five minute stroll to arrive at our table (there are about 6-800 people at every brunch I think) so be prepared for a large scale operation. It’s a buffet style set up, so you’ll need to suss out the station locations quick smart if you’re to make the most of your brunch time allocation.
Buffets come with pros and cons – definitely a pro at Saffron is the sheer size of the selection of food and beverages on offer. Saffron truly knocks this aspect out of the park. Your choices are many and varied, with anything from western and Mexican fare to the specialty of the house – Asian delicacies. Peking duck, dumplings, satay, dim sum, stir fry, curries…the list goes on, and on, and on. Breakfast essentials? Tick. Carvery? Tick. Juicy pork belly and ribs? Tick. You’re going to need to build a strategy in order to work your way around all the stations in the allocated time – and may I say, a team strategy might come in handy. Send each person in your group to a different station and have them bring back bulk! A well seasoned bruncher once passed on this tip to me and it’s the best way to turn your buffet brunch into a plated brunch – you’ll spend less time getting up and down and more time chatting to your brunch amigos.
And that’s the biggest challenge here – because of the wide food and drink selection and large venue, we spent more time out of our seats than in them, making it hard to connect with our fellow diners and get a great vibe going. Well, for the first two hours anyway – in hour three, everyone’s over the food and ready to party. Being in my early thirties I’m probably a little too old for most of the music, being 2000s hip hop and pop on the whole it’s more tailored to nostalgic 21-25 year olds. If it were my choice, I’d definitely revamp the playlist (apologies to the DJ!). The decor also falls into the ‘probably needs a refresh’ zone – I imagine it’s original from when the hotel was first built. I’m sure the decor will get a revamp soon once the new Royal Atlantis opens, but in the mean time I think most guests are too busy a) eating themselves into a food coma b) getting drunk c) both to notice.
It’s at the pricier end of Dubai brunch offerings, and take note that there’s no soft beverages option – it’s 535dhs whether you are imbibing or not. There are more than 220 dishes to choose from however, so value here may depend on how voraciously you tend to attack the buffet!
Those who lean towards the liquid side of brunch are well catered to also – there may not be 220 types of beverages on offer, but it’s many more than your usual brunch, that’s for sure. The venue is dotted with stands each offering a unique tipple – pineapple wedges studded with eye dropper shots, giant watermelon communal cocktails, tequila shots, Jameson & dry, gin & tonics and my favourite – kahlua shots mixed with espresso gelato. Now those were fab. Wine lovers, don’t expect fine grape – it’s entry level and a bit harsh on the palate, and table service is scarce – you’ll probably have to line up at the bar for a vino refill. Those who like party cocktails, shots and beers will be well looked after though, which is perfect for the younger crowd that flock to Saffron in droves.
Those with a sweet tooth will find plenty to swoon over too, with a large dessert counter, huge chocolate fountain with fruit, marshmallows and lollies for dipping, and a huge gelato station where you can stack your cone sky high with the sugary delight. Just make sure you can carry it back to your table in one piece after all those giant watermelon cocktails!
I like that the brunch hasn’t been shortened to the starting-to-become-commonplace 3 hours and clocks in at a decent 3.5 hours in duration, I think it would be too hard to navigate if it was anything shorter. Be prepared to be up and dancing by the last hour as the crowd gets increasingly jovial, but there’s no hanging around post brunch – the venue gets emptied out promptly. For those who want to party on, there’s a bus to the the afterparty at Ndulge elsewhere in the Atlantis compound.
Saffron is certainly a Dubai institution and one that needs to be ticked off the list. It’s perfect for voracious buffet veterans and those who love party-style drinks. Indulge with glee and then work off all those calories at the afterparty at N’Dulge…all in all, indulgence is definitely the theme at the Saffron brunch!