Friday brunches have become a foodie institution, and as Dubai dwellers we really are spoilt for choice with all the options out there. But my only qualm about most brunches is the timing. The standard norm is a 1 pm start, but Friday sleep-ins are so precious. We usually crawl out of bed by noon, and then there’s the Friday prayers to attend. We therefore never really make it to a brunch before 2.
And then I get invited to try out a ‘Linner‘, a New York concept now adapted by Cucina, Courtyard Marriott. Here’s how the foodie equation works:
Breakfast + Lunch = Brunch
Lunch + Dinner = Linner!
A Linner is a late lunch, and an early dinner. We were recently invited to an Italian Linner at Cucina (Courtyard Marriott, Dubai). With a timing span given from 3.30 to 7 pm, how can a bedhead like me refuse?
Have you visited Courtyard Marriott in Green Community Dubai? Unlike many of the modernesque luxury properties scattered across the glitzy city of Dubai, Courtyard Marriott has this beautifully rustic European charm about it and add to that a magnificent view of the waterfront and you have an idyllic escape from the usual city humdrum.
Located in the far corner of the ground floor is Cucina, Courtyard Marriott’s Italian restaurant. Invitingly suburban, spacious and flooded with natural light streaming in through the scenic floor to ceiling glass around its parameters, Cucina is a well-kept foodie sanctuary serving an endless smorgasbord of Italian favorites.
The Linner is a set menu that is served fresh and hot at the table (no queuing up at buffet counters), and you can always ask for seconds.
This Linner includes alcohol, and you have a choice from the three packages starting from AED 195 per person including soft drinks, AED 295 per person including house beverages and AED 345 per person for the bubbly package.
The Linner begins with an enticing lineup of appetizers including Olive Marinate, Beef Carpaccio, Caprese, Aranicini, Fritto Misto (an assortment of deep-fried battered seafood) and Bruschetta prepared freshly at the table-side. I had my Bruschetta with roasted crab, a dollop of pesto and a smear of dried tomato, delish!
My favorite appetizer was the very flavorful Beef Carpaccio, and the very juicy, salty marinated olives. I ordered for a second round of olives, and nibbled on these green and black beauties right through the following courses.
What is an Italian meal without pasta? At the Cucina Linner, pasta is treated as a separate course of its own! At the Cucina Linner, we were served a seafood pasta, a vegetarian pasta, and a beef pasta.
My favorite pasta dish was the Penne Con Polpette, a delicious serving of al-dente penne pasta tossed in a flavorful tomato sauce and served with moreishly good wagyu meatballs.
We also had this very creamy, flavorful Porcini Mushroom Risotto. Don’t go by its bland appearance, this risotto is brimmnig with mushroom goodness and was undoubtedly my favorite main-course from the Linner.
We drowned it all with copious sips of very fine Italian wine. Not sure what to drink with each course? Leave the pairing to the staff. They really do a great job. And my husband got introduced to an Italian beer brand he absolutely loved.
The Linner also includes a very special Italian cocktail concoction called Homemade Limoncello, a heady mix of vodka with lemon rind. Sour, bitter and very pungently strong!
Through it all, our little one was kept entertained at the play area where she made a whole bunch of new friends, rolled out some pizza dough and chose her own toppings, and had a hand at giant jenga and a cool limbo game.
Her pizza was sent off to the oven, and served hot at the table. Just look at her smirk of pride holding her very own pizza! She’s been promising to make us another one at home, but doesn’t know Mummy can’t make the dough or the sauces as well as Cucina.
By this time, I was already so full, add to that the mellowed sunshine and the sips of wine… all I needed was a bed to snooze in! But this was not the end of the Linner fare. The mains marched in soon after.
The main-course included Chicken Milanese (breaded chicken sitting on a bed of rocket leaves, with cherry tomatoes on the side, and garnished with Parmesan shavings), Baked Seabass with a fennel and orange salad, Parmigiana Melanzane (baked layers of eggplant with mozarella cheese and tomato sauce), and Braised Beef Cheek.
I found the breaded chicken a little too dry for my liking, and the same goes for the seabass. However, the Braised Beef Cheek is to die for! The meat is divinely soft and flavorful, like its been cooking for ages, and this moreish meatiness went beautifully well with the creamy polenta and confit tomatoes that were served on the side.
If you are a pork eater, the Linner includes a secluded section that specializes in pork cuts. It is clearly marked to avoid non-eaters entering by mistake.
If you have a major sweet tooth like me, I suggest you save some room for dessert. The dessert buffet is open throughout the Linner so you can always indulge in a spoonful of sweetness between courses!
My favorites from the dessert aisle included the salted caramel eclairs and the coffee gelato. They also had a tiramisu, but I found this one to be more cream than coffee.
We took our plates of dessert and sipped on cups of Ily cappuccino on the scenic veranda of Cucina facing the sunset over the beautiful waterfront, a perfect ending to a magnanimous Italian feast.
Overall, the Cucina Linner is a perfectly idle, food-filled 3 and a half hours of indulgence on a lazy Friday. I love the fact that it starts as late as 3.30 pm. The ambiance here is absolutely gorgeous, the service immaculate, and they even have the little ones in mind with interesting activities.
The Linner at Cucina runs every Friday from 3.30 pm to 7. Cucina is located on the ground floor of Courtyard Marriott (Green Community, Dubai). For bookings and further information, give them a call on 04 885 2222.