The Food Byte: Brunch at Mercato Restaurant, Dubai

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Of late, I've been loving brunches. I used to laze around in bed on the mornings of Friday and Saturdays not wanting to do anything. The tradition of brunch was initiated by my cousin late last year as she really didn't want to spend her weekends at home. So she dragged me off to my first brunch. Needless to say, I was a miserable bunny sitting in the car not looking forward to anything.

But the brunch I had changed my perspective on the late morning, mid-afternoon feast so much that I was the one searching for brunch options later that week.

My brunch goals are pretty much relaxing in a picturesque venue with good food and friends (at times, family). I'm glad to say that all brunch venues I have visited have left a lasting impression on me. Last week, I discovered a quaint little restaurant called Mercato located in the Italian Quarter at Gate Village 1 in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

The newly opened restaurant specializes in authentic Italian cuisine and the quirky interiors will remind you of the cosy cafes in Milan. While the inside of the restaurant has a long communion style table, the brunch is enjoyed best while seated outside (especially in this month's pleasant weather). The menu (not as extensive as you would expect) consists of nutritious meals in addition to the trademark pastries, pastas, pizzas, freshly baked breads among others.

We kicked off brunch with the freshly baked pastries in the form of a crispy croissant and an incredibly delicious Bombolone, an Italian doughnut. You get the choice of filling the spongey doughnut either with freshly made and subtly sweet cream or Nutella. Since it was cheat day, the team at Mercato gladly honored my request to split the doughnut equally with cream and Nutella.

The Bombolone isn't the standard size and is much larger, so it's best shared. Delicious is how I'd define my first bite.

While still savoring the wonderful pastries, we ordered two different types of breakfast- the Healthy Breakfast and the Mercato Breakfast.

The former featured two poached eggs sitting atop warm English muffins topped with spinach and smoked salmon. The breakfast also includes a side of quinoa, avocados and cherry tomatoes.

I like my eggs scrambled from time to time, so the Mercato Breakfast included just that (the servers and the manager are quite attentive to your every whim and request). No breakfast is complete without baked Rosemary potatoes and roasted cherry tomatoes. I loved every bite of it and the eggs were cooked to perfection.

Right after, came the anti pasti platter. How I love these!

Consisting of neatly arranged bread topped with traditional olive paste (so good!), a variety of cheese, turkey and veal bacon, helpings of artichoke and roasted peppers among others, this platter was the star of the brunch. I loved the olive paste; felt like it was made in grandma's kitchen!

No scrumptious meal is complete without a beverage or dessert. We ordered a unique blend of coffee that was slightly stronger for my taste but nonetheless, was pleasant. The final dish of the brunch was dessert- perfectly stacked golden pancakes served with Nutella. The warmth and sweetness made this the perfect finish to a wonderful brunch.

The service was A+, so was the food, price per meal and atmosphere. I genuinely love this place and have planned my next outing for when my best friend arrives from London. I can't wait to introduce her to the taste of Italy right here, in Dubai and have a hearty meal with her while talking about anything and everything under the sun.

The weekend brunch at Mercato is available every Friday and Saturday from 9am-6pm. Connect with them on Instagram @MercatoAE.

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