Posted by: englishdubai | July 13, 2009

Sgt Pepper

Friday Brunch in Dubai has rose to a level of some notoriety in the British media last summer. Lurid stories of expats spending all afternoon guzzling far too much alcohol in an afternoon followed by drunken antics was hard for the gutter press to resist. After the sex on the beach scandal that was linked to this expat Dubai tradition I have to admit to being put off them for sometime. So when invited to one this weekend I was a little hesitant to sign up.

When a  Friday Brunch is mentioned the usual names spring to mind such as Yalumba, Spectrum on One or for the bargain hunters Waxy’s. However, when I asked where I was to turn up the answer I got was surprising – Peppercrab at the Grand Hyatt.

The format was a little different. Usually at brunches there are a selection of food stations and you go for the all out how many different things can I get on my plate. Then I am always left with that difficult decision. Will anybody really notice if I go up for that fourth plate of food?

This time there was a set menu served to your table in almost military precision. The nice thing was that if you wanted some thing more of one dish they were happy to bring it out. This was great as it meant a very social lunch as people weren’t getting up at random intervals to do battle tongs and sneeze guards.

We kicked off with a selection of Sushi accompanied by Edamame beans and duck salad. There was also a real treat of crispy-fried baby squids. These was any amazing dish that had the texture of crackling with the sweetness of hoi sin sauce. Once the interstitial soup course was dealt with. The staff quickly cleared the table then set it with the surgical like instruments for doing battle with the crab. Next, with a little bit of ceremony the staff proceeded to dress each of us with a bib. While not the height of fashion it was certainly needed later on. Here Monique and Renata model said bib (though their cocktail dresses were far nicer):

After an indeterminable wait the main dishes of beef, bok choi and rice arrived. Then in a flurry of activity we were served with their signature dish of Mud Crab in Black Pepper Sauce. Here it is before we were let loose on it:

I like food you have to battle with. This was no exception, the reward being super sweet crab meat. Handling the shell was a little tricky due to the sensational blackpepper sauce which was a real treat in itself. Sticky and spicy it made you want to lick your fingers the whole time and if that was not enough there were liberal hunks of warm break to dunk into the saliva inducing sauce.

It was a visceral experience with everyone letting go of their inhibitions. There was cracking of crab legs and pepper sauce all over the place, accompanied by the moans of pleasure that only come out when eating deeply satisfying food.

The whole time our glasses were never empty.  There is half a bottle of Moet included in the price and after this house wine or beverages. Then came the best bit. Usually this set menu with the bubbly weighs in at 350AED a person ($95) but Monique had spied a coupon in a recent Timeout for 2 for 1 meaning we paid only 175AED ($47) each for a truly enjoyable afternoon.

If you were to go on a regular evening with their A La Carte Menu – the tanks surrounding the kitchen gave you a good idea what you could be in for:

Overall 9/10 – Excellent food and amazing value with the voucher we used. Set in pleasing surroundings with a high level of service. I dock it one mark as I am next to hopeless at extracting crab meat from its home with any degree of efficiency


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