In most cities, brunch means a weekend meal of eggs Benedict, smoked salmon and lashings of orange juice. Dubai’s version though, has always tended towards an orgy of excess -- eating and drinking so much that the atmosphere feels more akin to a late Saturday night than a Friday afternoon (Friday being the start of Dubai’s weekend).  

However a few places are realizing that, post recession, bigger is no longer better, and are offering a more refined and  boutique meal. If the thought of 200 people gorging themselves has your heart fluttering -- in a bad way -- dress to the nines (think a wedding or a day at the races) and book a table at one of these three new spots.

For a family affair
At Jumeirah Creekside, the new hotel on the block in Garhoud, Nomad is a modern, open plan restaurant that brings together pan-Asian specialties to suit every palate; try the live cooking stations that can whisk up your noodle dish of choice. Out back is a garden where kids can jump on the bouncy castle or feed the ducks; take one of the restaurant’s specially-created picnic hampers out to join them. The art-focused hotel also has an impressive collection on the ground floor, including sculptures in the lobby and the garden, for you to take in between courses.

Fridays noon to 4 pm; 295 dirhams for soft drinks,  395 dirhams including alcoholic house beverages . 

For a sophisticated take
The Jazz Brunch at Dubai’s outpost of the London institution the Ivy is inspired by the spiritual home of brunch, Manhattan. Don’t expect entire rooms of cheese or 25 different cakes like at Dubai’s more gluttonous institutions -- this is a refined three-course, a la carte affair, complete with an in-house jazz band who will soothe your way into the weekend while you work through British staples like roast beef and banana sticky toffee pudding. Weekend paper reading is optional.

Fridays noon to 4 pm; 190 dirhams for soft drinks, alcoholic drinks a la carte.

To see a different view
The Desert Palm hotel sits 27km from downtown Dubai on Al Ain Road and overlooks a glossy green polo field. Tables on the al fresco terrace come with complimentary bottles of Tattinger Champagne, waiters glide by with a range of seemingly bottomless cocktails, and foie gras, steak and salmon are cooked to order. The brunch also includes sushi, oysters and soup, and a pudding room complete with chocolate fountain. Our tip? Save the bubbly for after you’ve eaten and crack it open watching the sun set over a fresh green lawn -- a rare sight in the UAE.

Fridays 12:30 pm to 4 pm; 395 dirhams including alcoholic drinks.

Georgina Wilson-Powell is the Dubai Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes the hotel review blog