Dubai isn’t short of a brunch or two – and most of them claim to be family friendly yet actually when you’re a mama of very small people who you can’t take your eyes off for more than a second, the big hotel do’s can be really overwhelming. Kids corners are often far away and there are people milling about, pools to fall into and all sorts of potential places for the littles to get lost – meaning that you spend most of your time chasing around.
Lounge Café Italiano is the complete opposite. A small independent Italian joint a far cry from the usual brunch scene and the perfect choice for mamas and papas who just want a meal out with the fam in a chilled spot where the kids can play and parents can actually sit down, relax a bit and chew their (very delicious authentic Italian) food.
What’s On The Menu?
There’s no space here for acres of buffet tables laden with choices, so instead Lounge Café Italiano offer a brunch menu from which you get to choose a starter, main and dessert – plus kiddie options. There isn’t a great deal of choice but actually that was a good thing (too much and I end up panic ordering and then having food envy of everyone else’s dishes). For starters we went for a baby spinach, roasted red pepper and avocado salad which was lovely and simple – if anything a little too simple – would have really loved a little more dressing and an eggplant parmigiana, a gorgeous layered dish of bubbling cheese, eggplant, tomatoes and basil – completely yummy. We were also served a breadbasket laden with freshly baked focaccia and rolls which the littles adored dipping into the ‘oliver’ and balsamic vinegar. While hubby and I got stuck into our starters, the kids were polishing off a wood-fired margherita pizza and fresh homemade pasta with tomato sauce with gusto – helped by the amazingly friendly staff (who were literally spoon feeding little 19 month old Violet who was loving the attention). For mains, we opted for thick ribbons of pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce and a corn-fed chicken dish – both really good. For dessert the kids were invited to choose a scoop of ice cream from a really cute little ice cream station while we chose tiramisu and panacotta with the most heavenly berry coulis.
A HUGE thumbs up for the kids play area – visible from all parts of the restaurant and a lovely space with a few toys, cartoons playing and arts & crafts tables (brunch includes a blank canvas for each child to create their masterpiece on). Nothing overly fancy but perfect for very young kids who can’t sit still at a table for long and want to feel a little independent. An even bigger thumbs up for the Lounge Café Italiano wait staff – and Genie in particular who took all three of ours under her wing, playing with them, feeding them (their half-eaten pizza was finished off at the play area as suggested by her) and doing everything she could to make sure that hubby and I were relaxed and the kids were happy (we joked that she was our ‘genie from the lamp’! Also love the restaurant interiors, a mix of contemporary and traditional and a huge pizza oven casting a lovely warm glow over everything. And then of course there’s the food – most of the pasta at Lounge Café Italiano is homemade using the best and most authentic flour – as is the pizza dough and the bread – all completely delicious.
Hmmm. Well the restaurant isn’t licensed so if you’re looking to compliment your meal with a drink of the non-soft variety then you’ll be disappointed (for us this wasn’t a problem – with 3 kids in tow we were happy just to sit and relax without a hectic brunch scene going on around us). And – more of a little tip rather than a thumbs down – my very inquisitive 4 year old boy positioned himself at a bar stool to watch the pizza being formed and fed to the fiery oven. He would have loved it if the chef had taken a minute to throw a smile his way and tell him what he was up to (I know that Italians take their food very seriously – and we’re all for that – but if you’re in command of a pizza oven and have a mini audience then you may as well play to it!) My last little whinge is that, having seen the usual a la carte menu, it would have been great to have had a few more options to choose from as lots of them sounded so good!
Yes – lovely amounts of space inside plus the restaurant is on the ground floor with very easy parking right outside making it perfect for transporting babies on wheels.
Yes – the kids adored their authentic pizza and pasta – just how ‘nonna’ would have made it
Price Range: Adults AED 130, Children (aged 4-12) AED 60, Under 4’s go free.
Opening Hours: The Family Brunch happens every Friday from 12pm – 4pm