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The Friday Harbour brunch high
By Rebecca Wicks

The Harbour Hotel is my recent new favourite. It’s my new fave because it’s in walking distance to my workplace, not far in a cab to my flat and also, just a quick zebra crossing away from the Mina Seyahi for when everyone else just wants to meet at Barasti! Also, they do a wicked new brunch on Friday � up high in the Observatory on the 52nd floor. I went for dinner a few weeks ago, which I told you about, but a brunch is different. A brunch is special. A brunch has just one price-tag and unlimited options and best of all, a brunch keeps you out of the heat, AND out of the kitchen.

‘P’ and I decided to test it out last weekend, knowing that in just a few short weeks it’ll be far too hot to plan anything other than shopping or belly filling activities over the weekend. We like to plan ahead in our household, otherwise we just spend all morning on Friday watching BBC Lifestyle in our pajamas, waiting for the DVD lady to show up and ruin the afternoon with a dodgy copy of something we can’t be bothered to go to the cinema for. You know the story.

We rocked up to The Observatory (literally) to be greeted with a host of warm smiles - I think I’ve mentioned before how the staff are quite simply superior in this hotel. We were offered champagne. Being 12 noon and having only consumed a glass of water all morning, I said� yes please, and sipped it as the manager and chef came out to explain the concept. It’s basic really, isn’t it, the concept of brunch? You eat. And then you eat some more. You mix lashings of chocolate with lobster thermidor and wash it all down with some pate and a side order of baked beans, some more champagne and a cocktail. And that’s just for starters.

It’s a little bit different here however. They’ve designed their brunch to be an informal affair. They’ve even concocted a play-list of pop, soul, jazz and old-school R&B hits to bop along to as you feast, and they actively encourage you to leave your tables and sample little tasters on the spot, standing at the windows, looking down over Dubai’s sprawling scenery. As we know, the Observatory is a 360 lounge and restaurant, so whichever window in which you choose to consume your jellybeans, smoked salmon and hummus mixture (or whatever else your greedy eyes have piled onto that plate) you’re guaranteed a view to beat that offered by most of the other brunch spots in the city.

A touch we absolutely loved here, and something else that makes this brunch stand apart from the rest, is the fact that you can order from a special menu, as well as help yourself from the various food stations. We opted for something called an ‘inverted sunny side up egg, with saut�ed mushroom and truffle jelly’, out of curiosity more than hunger. I can honestly say we took about 50 photos of it before it touched our lips. I’ve never seen an egg like that before. Imagine a soft, white meringue, so spongy and smooth that even a stare would threaten its existence. I’m not sure how chef did it. Perhaps he has an angel working in the kitchen, but it was so pure and delicious that it seemed almost criminal to pair it with a sausage from the pork counter (also featuring a pig roast, gammon steaks, pork crackling and more salami than you can shake a French stick at). We did it anyway. Well it would have been rude not to.

A great little touch is the assortment of delicious and stinky cheeses along the bar, with boxes of crackers that you can help yourself from. “It goes with the feeling of being at home� our waiter tells us, after encouraging us to leave our table and enjoy a little selection of h'orderves by the window, overlooking the magnificent Palm. To the right, we could just make out the Burj Al Arab.

Of course, the barman is a dab hand at mixing up classic cocktails, too � try the “hottie”, trust me, it’s amazing. The champers is free-flowing, but don’t fill yourself with bubbles when there’s so much food to try. And whatever you do, don’t head down to the hair salon straight afterwards with a newly open mind and an imaginary bottomless wallet like we did, because� well, that’s another story.

The Observatory Friday brunch runs from 12.00-4.00pm and costs 400 AED per person.

Posted: 19 March 2009

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