Now that the weather is finally starting to get cooler – people in Dubai are starting to come out of their bedrooms and enjoy the great outdoors – so it was perfect timing last Friday when we were invited to an Al Fresco brunch experience at Cafe Belge in DIFC. It was my second visit and as a big fan of Belgian food and beer (thanks to Belgian Beer Café in Festival City!) we knew we couldn’t miss the opportunity.
As soon as we entered we were greeted by some very friendly and very pretty staff with big smiles on their faces, including a saxophone player and an ever-present DJ who played some excellent European music to set the authentic vibe perfectly. The restaurant/bar has a relaxing atmosphere and a warm ambience which changes in a beautiful way as the sun sets – classy yet casual. We were seated next to two lovely ladies, LuAnne of Weesha’s World and Ekta of Dollz In Dubai who provided us with delightful company throughout the afternoon.
Ricky and I started with a glass of cider, however my drink of choice during the brunch – and a definite recommendation – is the ‘Kriek’s Spritz’; a mixture of Prosecco and Belgian cherry beer. The Filipina lady who served us was very nice and informative. She introduced the menu, which was a celebration of Belgian cuisine with a focus on seafood. The food items were brought to our table, with the option of ordering the dishes again (we really didn’t need to as the portions were great!). The only exceptions were a freshly cooked mussel station, the oyster ladies and the dessert area.
Our food adventure begun with a massive fresh seafood platter at our table, complete with dry ice to add a magical smoke effect. Neatly presented the shellfish was irresistible and so fresh. I particularly loved the meaty oysters and tender lobster. They provided a variety of sauces for the seafood, but it was so tasty we hardly needed them!
Throughout the day, some ladies dressed in red came up and offered to top up our plate with freshly shucked oysters which were fantastic. We later found out they are from The Oyster Elite Co, who accept bookings for parties/events. If you want a classy night to treat someone very special – they are the ones to call! After we had delved through our platter – we were provided with a selection of perfectly crafted miniature bites. This included scrambled eggs with a foam reduction, goats cheese with salad, miniature quiches and the chef’s special – foie grois Belgian waffles. As well as being a flat lay dream, the food was gorgeous. Although I am not a huge fan of foie grois, I was assured it was beautiful.
I particularly loved the goats cheese salad and the smoked salmon – which came complete with a smoking effect when you opened the little jar it was incased in! Before our mains were served, we decided to pay a visit to the mussel station, which was amazing! They cook their fresh mussels in a pot, with 80% fresh cream and 20% champagne. With indulgence levels at their height – we had high expectations and they didn’t disappoint. The fresh mussels mixed perfectly with the smooth cream, alongside the champagne present to give them a delightful little kick!
Our main courses were an array of inviting hot dishes, which looked like recipes passed down from generations in a Belgian family. We later found out the recipes had in fact come from one of the chef’s grandparents – so we weren’t far off! The dishes provided included sea bass, chicken, salmon, ratatouille and beef medallions, with Belgian fries and mayonnaise on the side of course!
I loved the dishes, even though I was getting quite full by this point I managed to have a good portion of each. The salmon cooked in a beautiful buttery sauce and the ratatouille packed full of fresh vegetables in a tangy sauce were my highlights. The fries and mayo took me back to my visit to Amsterdam where locals would queue outside cafes after work to get a bag of freshly cooked Belgian style fries.
Afterwards we were full and happy – but we were definitely excited about the desserts, and I had kept a little space for them. The area is great, with your standard high level brunch selections of miniature cakes and tarts. The lemon meringue pie was delicious, along with the rhubarb crumble which provided more authentic tastes.
The star of the desserts though was definitely the Belgian waffle station. I am a big fan of Belgian waffles and I had never tasted anything like these! The flavor of the freshly cooked batter was stunning, alongside the fresh cream, raspberry puree and caramel sauce – I was in heaven. I even went back for seconds!
We really had a fantastic time at the Café Belge brunch. Although more on the expensive side, I feel the value is excellent; with amazing seafood, authentic Belgian and French ingredients and dishes and a great selection of beverages (particularly for those who like Belgian beers!).
Ultimately when I think seafood, I think fresh. And for me that was one of the biggest takeaways from this brunch – fresh, delightful food.
After our brunch, we chilled with a shisha outside and enjoyed the cooling Dubai weather. It’s that time of the year when the words ‘Al Fresco’ are starting to become more and more appealing… 😉
Cafe Belge, The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC
+971 4 372 2323
Non-Alcohol Package @ AED 325
Basic Alcohol Package @ AED 450
Premium Alcohol Package @ AED 575