Friday brunch in Dubai is huge. You usually go with a group of friends to eat and drink as much as you can during the afternoon.The primary goal is to get drunk, and the food plays a more secondary role. Though I had heard that Toy Brunch at China Grill was supposed to be really good, both food-wise and drink-wise, so a couple of weeks ago, Poul and I spontaneously decided to give it a try.
After we were seated, the waiter told us that the menu was a surprise. Everything would be delivered to our table, so we could just relax and have a good time. “The only thing you need to worry about is to get wasted” he proclaimed.
Poul is an airline pilot, and he had a flight the following day. He therefore didn’t want to drink alcohol, which the waiter thought was very strange. In an awkward attempt to be funny, he tried to convince Poul to have just a small beer. When Poul insisted that he wanted a Coke, the waiter joked that he would add vodka. Poul didn’t think it was funny.
After the first dish was served, a staff member went to the tables to collect payment. It seemed a bit intrusive, but it was probably a good idea, considering how quickly people got drunk.
The first 4 dishes we had didn’t impress. The food lacked flavor, and the meat was dry. It felt like they were just trying to feed us as quickly as possible and as cheap as possible. When the waiter dropped by, we asked if it was possible to get to know what the next dishes would be. There was no reason to serve more of what we had already had, because we wouldn’t eat it. He couldn’t tell us, since it was a surprise, so another two underwhelming plates arrived to our table, before Poul had enough.
He was ready to leave, but I convinced him to stay a little longer. Our waiter was busy serving shots to the table next to ours, and completely ignored our attempts to catch his attention. It took 20 minutes, before he finally attended to us. I asked if it was possible to skip the other dishes and just have dessert, but he told us it wasn’t possible. Apparently, all the tables were served at the same time, and the dessert wasn’t ready yet.
That was the last straw for Poul, who got up to leave. On our way out, one of the hostesses approached us and asked, why we were leaving. We told her that we were disappointed with both the service and the food, and since we couldn’t have our dessert now, we didn’t have any reason to stay. She offered that we could have the dessert immediately anyway, but we were on our way out, so we declined that offer.
Now don’t let this blog post keep you away from Toy Brunch and China Grill. What contributed to our bad experience, was the fact that we came with expectations much higher than what Toy Brunch could (and should?) honor. Truth is, the food was neither worse nor better than what you’ll find at most Friday brunches in Dubai. The vibe was more like a nightclub than at a restaurant, and the other guests seemed to have a really good time. If you take Toy Brunch for what it is, and leave your culinary expectations at home, you’ll probably like it.