Would you believe it’s been over a month since I’ve gone to a proper Friday afternoon brunch? That was remedied this past Friday afternoon at the Prohibition Brunch at Bazxar
(which I have spelled wrong at least four times).
To start, I was delighted with the start time — 2 PM. No rush in the morning. No need to get out the door. In fact, I managed the weekly food shop, editing, and had time to read for a bit. And, because Hubs and I did not do our usual ‘one for the road’ (i.e. three additional drinks at the bar), we were home by 6 PM like civilized (slightly buzzed) adults.
Having passed the location a few times, I recognized the exterior, a unique wall with Bazxar spelled out in large letters. In case there was any question of whether or not this was the location, the (loudish…more on that later) music was an indication this was where we would be dining.
As a fit out, I liked the space. There are three separate parts — a proper dining room, a lounge, and another loosely defined area I would classify as bar seating. It reminded me a bit of Weslodge, which is a compliment. I suppose to, if you wanted to drop in for a casual bite, meet up for a drink or be seated for a more formal eating arrangement, the restaurant has all your bases covered.
We were shows to the lounge and I immediately chose one of the only pairs of seats which provided both diners with a place to support their backs. Note to those booking; I’d definitely ask for something in the dining room, if available. Most of the ‘casual’ seating options cute bar stools, but hey, I’m old and I like to have something to lean on, rather than sit on a stool for three hours.
The menu was very reminiscent of Dusty’s Departure brunch (just across the way at the Al Fattan Currency House). We started very quickly with a round of appetizers (there were 9 to choose from). While the food is all ‘nice,’ the choices rely heavily on fried foods and crowd pleasers (no shame in that game, but I think the kitchen can do better). For the same amount of money (more on that later), you could dine at an even more upmarket brunch and have a bit more refined starters (Intersect, I’m looking at you). Overall, I would encourage a slight tweak of the menu (maybe editing a few things out and adding in burrata and a basket of truffle fries or some other starch).
We were able to choose from a list of seven mains and were HEAVILY encouraged to try the beef and fish. As I wasn’t particularly in the mood for a ‘naked dog,’ we agreed. The ‘Josper Steak’ was probably the best plate I enjoyed (tender beef, perfectly portioned with a decidedly delicious, spicy sauce), while Hubs’ grilled fish of the day looked mediocre at best.
Dessert was a trio of small sweets (fine by me). My favorite of the three offers was the mint chocolate mini ice cream sandwich. For any issues I had, I do love ala carte brunches because they ultimately cut down on food wastage. Additionally, vegetarians, there are some good offers for you throughout the menu.
So, what does this afternoon cost? Standard food and soft drinks and mocktails run AED295, add in house spirits and wine at AED395 and AED495 (!) for the Gatsby package, which only adds beer (!) and rose (?!). If your eyebrows are raising at the prices, let me make things a bit harder for you to swallow. At the bottom of the drinks menu were cocktails that cost additional money. I felt listing beverages outside of the packages (i.e. those that cost money) was a bit off-putting. In a city where brunch usually has everything available, I just didn’t feel it matched with the vibe. Like, if I’m paying AED800 in total, why do I want to know there is an AED95 Old Fashioned? Overall, I think the drink packages need another look, and the Gatsby offer should definitely include prosecco (or something bubbly).
I did appreciate the DJ, even if the decibels crept up above acceptable towards the end of the brunch (great mixes, but remember, I’m old and I hate shouting at my dining partner). And a final note, there’s smoking here, and you will walk out reeking of cigarettes (even if you are a non-smoker).
In the end, I think Dusty’s wins out. With a similar vibe and equally great DJ, Bazxar has got a way to go before I would give a strong recommendation.
Have you been to Bazxar? What did you think?
A to Za’atar was a guest of Bazxar. Opinions are her own, just ask her husband.