How long do you reckon it takes living in Dubai before you become ruinously spoilt? Not necessarily in a princessy, I-can’t-make-my-own-bed kind of sense (although that, too, happens to the best of us), but in a culinary vein, where if you’re presented with less than 35 different types of eggs at brunch that you turn your nose up and wonder where it all went wrong. I’d hazard about six months. So to be genuinely impressed after that (and I’ll be really honest here) is quite a rarity. The Collective, a new restaurant in the Grand Hyatt, however, is one of those places that makes your heart beat that little bit faster. No mean feat.
I’ll lay my cards on the table. It’s the best breakfast I’ve ever had. I know, I know. It sounds like I’m either a) doing the PR for the place and/ or b) I’ve been bribed to say it changed my life. Neither of those things are true. Firstly, this is no cookie-cutter, traditional hotel breakfast. Four different connected restaurants in one allow you to wander through, buffet-style, heaping your plate with things from the boutique bakery, Levantine Emporium, Indian cafe and grill bar – all for Dhs135. Dishes are served up in mismatched pots and pans, on cake stands and giant trays, giving it an eclectic, street food-style energy. Not only is the actual food incredible and all made on-site (we watched the madeleines and croissants being baked and then served to us hot from the oven), but the buzz is contagious. At every station there’s a least one chef from the region to give it a real authentic, home-made flavour, and they are the friendliest, sweetest bunch of people I’ve come across in a long time.
Special shout out to the healthy pancakes (made with egg white, banana, oats and honey), cheese shawarma served on Turkish bread with honey (complete with honeycomb) and exceptional coffee. I’ll be back for lunch (and dinner most likely. AND probably the Friday brunch). Basically, if you can’t find me – I’ll be there.