DETAILS: Dhs250 (soft drinks), Dhs275 (sparkling). Thu 8pm-11pm. Al Bandar Marina, Al Raha Beach (02 556 6090).
Any bar or restaurant that juts out into the clear waters of Al Bandar harbour would have to be extraordinarily bad to not be at least a little bit of a success.
There are few spots in the city, or the whole UAE, even, that have a better view. then Pacifico TIKI, which has used its location in the best possible way; creating a dining spot that’s very romantic but also good fun.
You can wear what you like, chill out, chat, dance if you want to, lounge about outside on the comfy sofas if you don’t, and just concentrate on eating, drinking and having a good time.
In short, it’s got everything you could want from a lively Thursday night brunch, or any evening of the week for that matter.
For instance, we’re also big fans of its ladies’ night offer. At Dhs65 for free-flowing drinks and a sharing platter, it’s basically free (well, not literally). The Al Bandar residents who get to call this bar their local are very lucky indeed.
When we arrive, it’s lively and busy; exactly what we want and expect. We really should have come early to catch the sunset, but getting there a bit later at least means that the party vibe is in full swing.
We are seated near the bar by the side of a big birthday gathering. It’s loud and a bit raucous, and seeing somewhere so busy in the capital is heartening and a sure sign that the long, hotter months are ending.
The brunch offer includes house beverages and select mixed drinks for Dhs275. And it doesn’t take long for our first round to appear, and the speedy service continues throughout the night. The fact the bar is packed doesn’t deter our friendly servers from keeping us well refreshed.
This isn’t the place for a sophisticated dining experience, and we love it for that. The no-nonsense approach is perfect when you’re hungry, thirsty and want to dive straight in to some good, old-fashioned brunching.
The tapas-style dishes start to arrive, and there are so many we struggle to get them all on the table. Bread baskets are relegated to the stools and we lose one chicken skewer after one of us clumsily elbows it to the floor. But the balancing act is all part of the fun.
The fried calamari rings, meatballs and shrimp pil pil are all instant hits. The pisto is basically a Spanish version of ratatouille, and it’s lovely. It’s also unexpectedly healthy and veggie-filled to say it is part of a party brunch.
The lamb hotpot also stands out as a heartier dish in amongst the finger food., while the chicken skewers are a bit dry (hence we weren’t too crestfallen at losing one), but the unassuming-looking wrinkly potatoes are actually brilliant and come with an addictive chilli pepper garlic sauce.
It goes without saying that the cheese balls are delicious. Hardly a revelation, we know. Personally, we think anyone who doesn’t enjoy them shouldn’t be allowed to go brunch.
The plates are all unlimited but there’s so much that we don’t need to ask for seconds (we’re sure it won’t surprise you to learn that we don’t have small appetites and this is a very rare occurence).
But we do request the mini crème brûlée for dessert. We’re a bit disappointed with the lack of crunchy topping, but it’s just the right size and sweetness to finish our meal off perfectly.
The evening is as much about the party vibe as it is the food. However, you’ll struggle to find anywhere better in the capital for sharing- style nibbles and sensational views.