Rare Restaurant Brunch | January 25.2013

By Aysha Majid

Approaching the drive to Desert Palm it's easy to surmise you've taken a wrong turn. Hang a right and a Nic Fiddian-Green horse head guides you to a blissful oasis set amidst the contrast of vast Arabian sandscapes and the lush green surrounds of an extensive polo estate.

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The eclectic collection of art makes a first and lasting impression. A far cry from some of Dubai's haughty and bombastic brunches, Rare is subtle and chic. Warmly greeted at the restaurant entrance with a glass of champagne, we take our seats on the terrace, overlooking the polo field. Perfectly pre-empted beverage orders are mentally noted. Taittinger champagne is included (half a bottle per person, followed by unlimited prosecco) and a very reasonable option to upgrade to Prestige Cuvée for AED 50 per person.

An overwhelmed brunch enthusiast, this dapper little gem is at once a breath of fresh air. Free of heaving food stations, ravenously packed with grab-all-you-can revellers anxiously hankering after the lobster and most exciting pieces of sushi. To my envy one of our diners opted for the foie gras (once a firm favourite, now avoided due to the bane of guilt that plagues me after consumption). There it is, true to form, a perfect and generous portion of buttery, rich goose liver and brioche staring up and toying with my taste buds. I'm told it's delicious.

We wander amidst stations that include antipasti, roast meat, seafood, sushi and sashimi, cheese and delicate desserts. I opt for a selection of cold seafood starters with prawns and oysters, as well as the mini salmon tartare and bresaola tasters. Emphasis has been placed on classic cuisine and dishes are discerningly accompanied by informative, complimentary wine pairings.

Then back to our charming spot on the terrace, with speakeasy jazz and swing honing the fastidious attention to detail, suddenly transporting us very far away from the city. Gil (our assigned member of staff) is meticulous and the atmosphere is moreish. We enjoy main courses of roast duck and beef wellington with pan-fried vegetables, simple sushi selections and lobster, followed by a tempting display of cheeses, apple crumple and chocolate strawberries.

We're judiciously presented with cold towels and as if by magic the Rare fairies read our minds, ice-cold beers and minty fresh mojitos appear in a haze of glory and there it is, signed sealed and delivered…an idyllic brunch experience, in the city, but far enough for a peaceful escape. Cultivated but not uptight, somewhere to take visitors and friends who want to experience Dubai's swanky fruits, yet firmly disinherited by the gold swirls and overwhelming excess. If the setting and art doesn't impress, the wine pairing, after-dinner cigars, cocktails and exceptional service from warm and efficient staff will.

Rare Restaurant
Desert Palm, Al Awir Road, Warsan
04 323 8888