All UAE residents and visitors know that Friday’s are brunch days and having receivied an invite to sample the distinctly British themed ‘Double Decker Brunch’ at the Roda Al Rotana. There was absolutely no way we were going to say no.
The Double Decker brunch has a reputation as one of Dubai’s longest running brunches. One that has been serving up dishes from the British Isles for more than a decade now and accompanied by a plethora of beverages, this brunch does have a reputation for being more of a party brunch.
This fact was obvious upon arrival, with the bar already buzzing with a young crowd out to make the most of their sunny Friday. Double Decker is a mish-mash of everything London, a stereotypical red phone box marks the entrance and bus stops and green lawns lead the way through large double doors into the gloomy interior.
You always know it’s a party brunch when you are asked to pay upfront and equipped with obligatory wristband, we entered into a cavernous space of dark wood that marks a typical interpretation of an English country pub. Stained glass windows allow little light inside but the gloomy atmosphere is definitely in keeping with the intended concept of a British boozer.
Everything stereotypically British is thrown at the interior, with traffic lights hanging above the bar and bus routes playfully jostling for wall space (the 149 that we used to take to work is displayed proudly, reminding us of how much life has changed). With ample seating options spread throughout the dual level doing space, we were seated upstairs amongst sports screens and pool tables, having the perfect vantage point over the on-going festivities below.
Service was surprisingly attentive for this type of brunch, with both staff and managers mingling throughout the room while conversing with guests. Drinks arrived promptly when ordered, though service did (expectedly) slow down as brunch wore on and became more raucous.
Perusing the food stations, we were approached by the team of chefs who took us on an insightful tour of the buffet (big shout out to executive sous chef Lal Tamang and the attentive Jahed Islam). In keeping with the drinking over eating ethos of these party brunches, the selection was small but well presented. Each dish is playfully labelled using the iconography of the London underground network, replacing station names with that of the selected dish.
Your usual brunch favourites of salads and cold cuts are all present and correct, though it was the addition of an alcohol-infused bread that had us most intrigued. Sticking firmly to it’s British roots, the buffet offers a selection of English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish cuisines that change weekly to ensure variety for returning customers. A point that regular guests are likely to appreciate.
With brunch service beginning, the assembled crowd was far more focused on the beverage options (grapes, hops and premium house beverages) than the food offerings. This seems to be something that the team at Double Decker are well aware of and in keeping with their demographic, the food unfortunately comes secondary. What’s the point on putting on a large spread of premium items, if all customers want is to drinK?
Double Decker have a great reputation when it comes to their brunch and the specifics focus more on the alcohol than the food and while this may be what a lot of people are looking for when it comes to in a brunch. We are all about the food!
For us this may not have been our usual preference for a food-focused brunch, though there were some great dishes. The roast dinners were exactly as expected, combing rustic roast potatoes, terrific Yorkshire puddings and little in the way of portion control (with one slice of beef hitting our plate, at least an inch and a half thick). All roasts are carved for you and the meat sits upon a nice beds of Yorkshire puds, procuring a nice touch. The quality of the roast dinners make them the stand out choice, with other options being decidedly hit and miss.
A seafood themidor carried little in the way of flavour and the breaded chicken drumsticks were overly dry, despite their appealing appearance. Part of the problem comes from the fact that the dishes are kept under a heat lamp for prolonged periods of time, in an attempt to keep them piping hot. In doing so, the food becomes dried out but does serve its intended purpose of absorbing alcohol and keeping hungry punters at bay.
On the flip-side, an Irish stew of slow cooked beef and colourful vegetables was a great treat due to its rich gravy base – though mashed potatoes would have been a welcome addition to the buffet. Pork lovers will be in heaven, with a side of the restaurant dedicated to all things piggy. A 15kg pork loin is available on the carvery, alongside a beautiful pork belly and roast potato mix. The Cumberland sausage is as good as it gets and teamed with one of the gigantic Yorkshire puddings made us proud of our British roots. These items are all staples of our British culture and food that is so regular to us that it’s satisfying to have it thousands of miles from home,
This may be part of the reason why Double Decker resonates with so many British expats. A causal venue that’s perfect for a relaxing lunch and a chance to catch up with friends. With groups of sports teams, birthday celebrations and stag parties as our dining companions, the mass appeal of Double Decker is evident. As the marketing campaign states “Eat Double, Drink Triple, Act Single.”
At 2pm the lights suddenly come down and the music goes up, turning Double Decker into a daytime nightclub and for those not wanting to participate there is always the pleasant outside terrace. With the latest chart hits mixed into early 90s R&B, DJ Pilar Gomez really knows h0w to get the crowd going, by which point no-one left in the room was concerned about food.
We on the other hand, decided to pair our cider with a selection of aerated cakes, baked goods and the quintessentially English bread and butter pudding. A great iteration of the British classic that utilities custard, raisins and copious amounts of bread into a stodgy delight. It’s just a shame that the remainder of it went untouched by our fellow diners/drinkers.
There’s no denying that Double Decker know exactly what they’re doing and provide an excellent brunch full of atmosphere and frivolity. From beer pong and drinking competitions (that involve drinking a litre of beer in the quickest time). Double Decker offers a great place to start your weekend and let your hair down in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. For those looking for a party brunch it’s a good bet and does what it says on the tin – party, party, party! For those Looking for excellent food and a chance to chat, we suggest you look elsewhere.
Brunch at Double Decker takes place each Friday from 12pm – 4pm and costs 275 AED with unlimited grapes, hops and house beverages.
We were invited to dine at Double Decker. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.