WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT: BOULEVARD KITCHEN AT MANZIL DOWNTOWN DUBAI
Mention the word “brunch” and most often it conjures up images of loud music, massive queues of hungry (and possibly hungover) people, backlogs of taxis dropping brunchers off, and all in all, a day more hectic than relaxing.
Boulevard Kitchen, though, is the complete antithesis of that. For a truly chillaxed Arabic affair with friends, family, and even your wee ones, head to this brunch venue situated at the beautiful and under-the-radar Manzil Downtown Dubai.
BRAND PRESENCE AND IDENTITY
Manzil Downtown Dubai is part of the Vida Hotels & Resorts group, which targets the younger business and leisure crowd by creating a chic ambiance and an air of modern luxury. The needs of the new generation of entrepreneurs and inspired minds are catered to without all of the fuss. (The hotel is also active on their social media channels, another testament to their focus on today’s on-the-go and always connected traveller.)
- $$ (Now & Then)
IN THE MOOD FOR
- Manzil Downtown Dubai Hotel
- Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
- The Old Town, Downtown Dubai
- Tel:+971 4 888 3444
The hotel is located right on Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai, conveniently close to some great shopping and with a stunning view of the Burj Khalifa. Considering I’ve lived here for over 4 years, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of the Manzil Downtown Hotel or Boulevard Kitchen before.
Well, I have to say, Pra was pleased! This hidden gem was the perfect remedy for a hectic week. (But if brunch at the Westin is what gets you going, then you can stop reading right here because this probably isn’t your cup of tea.)
The interior of the restaurant is Arabesque and the modern-meets-traditional design is a refreshing change from other brunch venues. You’ll immediately notice that the atmosphere is laid-back and the seats are mostly filled with Emiratis and locals as opposed to the general expat crowd. This actually worked perfectly for 2 girls looking for a relaxed lunch and a good catch-up session.
SIZE, COVERS, FOOD STYLE
Boulevard Kitchen seats 43 people indoors and another 80 outdoors. (Shisha fans can sit on the boulevard-facing patio for some fab people-watching.)
As for the food, your taste buds are going to dance with the Levantine-themed brunch buffet here. Usually, buffet-style brunches will see Pra go up no more than twice due to it being so vast and busy. This time, perhaps because it was so chilled and relaxed, I visited the buffet around 4 times, trying to taste as many of the local flavours on display as possible.
Brunch starts at 195 AED for adults and 95 AED for children. Under-5s dine compliments of the house.
Manzil Downtown Dubai Hotel seems so central and hard to miss,considering its location. But perhaps because I’d never really heard of it before, I was guesstimating its whereabouts when first heading there. I was surprised to find it was just steps from Souk Al Bahar, tucked away in Old Dubai on the boulevard. What a truly Arabic feel that had me smiling from ear to ear.
STAFF, ENGAGEMENT, SERVICE
The staff here were just lovely. Accommodating and gracious even in their busier moments, they had a way of making sure that we always felt taken care of. They never lost the personal touch, which made everything feel so welcoming and warm. (Also, a big thumbs up to the staff who oversee the children’s play area. A very well-thought out detail that undoubtedly gives parents peace of mind and the freedom to have their brunch and eat it, tool!)
INTERIOR, VIBE, MUSIC, AUDIENCE
Boulevard Kitchen doesn’t look like your typical brunch venue. It was designed with an Arabesque feel – dark wood tones and tons of screens with beautifully intricate geometric patterns. It is cosy and far from your standard brunch environment, but this is what makes it so stand-out!
There’s plenty of seating, with banquettes along the walls, individual tables across the floor, and outdoor space which includes a beautiful courtyard that was comfortably buzzing. Even though it was a family-themed brunch, there were no screaming children running about when I was there. In fact, the children were, dare I say it, incredibly well-mannered. (Any Dubaian will agree that children here are either good and well-mannered or naughty and spoilt. And we’ve all been to our fair share of brunches where the naughty ones prevailed.)
Local traditional background music enhanced the chill atmosphere, which was the cherry on top. I had a moment of appreciation for the beautiful culture in which we live and are so lucky to be able to experience! The restaurant seems to be a hit with the locals and Emiratis, those looking for a chill atmosphere, and of course, families.
You name it, they have it.
The decadent Levantine buffet spread offers beautiful cold food selections (hummous, tabbouleh, Arabic breads) and a humongous hot food selection (hot mezze and live cook stations that offer kebabs, shawarmas, and various other grilled meats and seafood).
End the meal with a visit to the dedicated dessert area, located at the front of the restaurant, with its trays and tiers of sweet delights that simply screamed “eat me” when I was there!
The brunch package includes either soft drinks or house beverages; hubbly bubbly is included in both. The curated beverage menu gives you a selection of cocktails, mocktails, wines, and spirits.
Being the wine lover I am, when I heard there was only one (one!) choice of white wine, alarm bells went off in my head. After a sip, however, I held my tongue because it was probably one of the easiest drinking Pinot Grigios I’ve ever had. (By the way, it was a 2015 De Bortoli Family Selection PG, in case you want to taste for yourself!)
EVENTS AND EXTRAS
For families, the kids play area is likely a highlight. Not only does this give children their own space to roll around in, but the supervising staff assist with arts and crafts and other activities to keep the little hands busy.
For the ladies – don’t miss out on the henna hand treatment that comes with the brunch package!
For a laidback yet lavish brunch, Boulevard Kitchen is where you’ll want to head next weekend. It’s a different vibe from your standard brunch venue which is what makes it stand out. And enjoy the henna!