Nothing quite encapsulates fresh hope and genuine excitement like the first day of the new football season. And nothing sums up Dubai like a brunch, but the one brunch that is perhaps most talked about is the one at Waxy O’Conners. It’s attained a status that, while not quite legendary, is something of a Dubain culinary rite of passage. The Waxy’s Premiership brunch deal costs Dhs65 for a fry up, five drinks and a carvery and that seems like ridiculously good value.
There’s a rule that in life you get what you pay for but this disproves that. Even if you didn’t have the food, it still works out at Dhs13 per drink which is pretty good going. After that, anything you eat is a bonus.
You start with the fry up. The bacon (I suspect unintentionally) ranged from fatty and undercooked to burnt to a crisp which allowed everyone to chose exactly how they like their hog. Sheer serendipity, but something of a welcome touch. The scrambled egg is passable, while the hash browns were greasy but not to the point of inedible and the sausages are really excellent. It’s often tough to find good sausages in Dubai but these hit the spot.
There’s the converse rule of fry-up quality that states the better the establishment, the worse the fry up. If you ever go to the breakfast at a five-star hotel and ask for the English breakfast you’ll, more often then not, get served something that’s so lackluster and bland it’s almost an insult – especially as you’ll be paying a small fortune for it. Go to a pub or cheap café and you’ll get the real deal. While the English fry at the Irish Village is still (arguably) the best fry up in the city, this offers something entirely different – the ability to proportion the size of the meal to your own specifications. Or put simply – lots of extra sausages and bacon and no tomatoes, thanks very much.
You may be wondering why I’m reviewing a buffet in a pub rather than some fancy schmancy restaurant in a hotel boasting more stars than is technically correct, but if Hugh Grant films can be reviewed then this is far more valid. In fact, it’s an excellent afternoon that managed to combine three essential ingredients of British culture – fried food, beer and football.
Two matches and five drinks later the roast carvery came into play. The beef slices were big and tender and although the lamb was fatty it was easy enough to pick out the good bits from the tureen. Add a shovelful of potatoes and a token smattering of the veg and it’s all pretty much in place. Finally the Yorkshire puddings were the size of a Mid-Western farmhand’s fist and perfect for soaking up the ladles of gravy.
People we still returning for half-time bacon and sausage sandwiches and they were so good they even managed to cheer up the Spurs fans, which, if you know any Spurs fans, is something that’s not easy to do as there’s no set of supporters whose expectations so outweigh the ability of their team. It’s like watching grown men cheer on a Mini Cooper in a drag race with a Porsche. Except the drag race lasts until May.
This kind of food is perfect for the setting and situation. The big sofas make it feel like your front room and the plasma screens are in abundance, but you’ll have to book the best seats in advance as they’re always in demand – I was informed that the big corner sofa upstairs was booked up at the end of last season, a whole three months ago, which means it’s a table more in demand than any at Gordon Ramsay’s Verre. That said, the Premiership Brunch at Waxys is not going to worry any of the top restaurants in Dubai, but none of the people here today seemed too worried about high-cuisine. They were more worried about when the next batch of sausages was going to arrive and Tottenham’s inability to score against lesser teams. The former was not in question, but the latter may be a source of frustration well into the New Year.
The season has just started, but already Waxy’s has sent a clear message to its rivals – we’re not going to relinquish out title of best ‘place for food and football on a Saturday’ without a fight.
For 7Days Newspaper.