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Food review: Brunch at Mazina.

When you enter a fine dining restaurant with a toddler in tow you are met with glares that range from chastening to cold from fellow diners.

We may have made our peace with frosty receptions, but nothing could prepare us for the waiters who greeted us warmly with an ear-to-ear grin in place. Perhaps, it's expected since the restaurant Mazina at The Address, Dubai Marina, prides itself on dishing out a perfect family brunch every Saturday.

Welcome to the land where the servers don't blink if your child decides to turn her cutlery and the table into a noisy drum kit.

No sooner had we sat down, a green baby-chair materialised near our table. Plus, there were colourful balloons, the quintessential kiddie favourite, floating around.

Surprisingly, the warm reception didn't last too long. Once the waiter poured us water (no questions forthcoming about whether we wished for tea or coffee or milk), he disappeared and left it upon us to battle our way through the sea of tiny soldiers to reach the massive spread before us.

But before we get to the food, a word about the gigantic bouncy castle that beamed at us from the entrance: It's placed in a corner of the restaurant, but there was no ignoring the gleeful reaction that it evoked in my two-year-old as soon as she spotted it. Just to watch the mini tornado charge at the inflatable toy with absolute delight is worth a thousand dirhams. There's also a child-minder hovering around. She steps in if the kiddie party gets a bit too wild. Here it's a good idea to bring your own nanny if your child loves to bounce around and is prone to planting herself near the castle. After all, there's a lots of food to be enjoyed. Here the operative phrase is "lots of food" because Mazina is clearly a stranger to brunches that are streamlined.

Its international buffet have truly gone global by putting up delicacies ranging from the token Aloo Gobi to Thai fish cakes and everything in between. The staggering array of dishes is expected, but what got our fancy was the kid's buffet counter.

The orange and blue plates with bright cutlery attached to it could lure even the pickiest eater to try out their fish nuggets and pint-sized breaded chicken strips. The mashed potato and pasta is also a good option since my toddler polished it off her plate with incredible speed. She washed it down with some pomegranate juice in unbreakable tumbler and rounded it off with a bit of blueberry cheesecake. All this was accomplished in less than two hours, which is deemed decent timing in a toddler's world.

Don't get us wrong, we didn't just waste all this time marvelling at our child's eating prowess. We too made good progress. From the starters, be sure to try the Thai shrimp salad with raw mango salsa. The tangy taste of fruit mingled well with the sensibly seasoned juicy shrimp and shallots. It called for a second helping but it's better to refrain because there's a lot to tuck into. Smoked chicken with marinated vegetable and peanut dressing is also worth a shot. But what got us going was the sushi counter. The ura maki (inside out) dusted with crunchy sesame tasted sea-fresh and delicious. The sushi with tuna nestled in a rice roll with a dollop of creamy dressing hit the right notes. For my partner, it was the baby chicken with lemon and herbs that did the trick. When it came to desserts, the restaurant surprisingly had a close-door policy. With a glass partition, the desert counter was manned by a waiter. Upon our request he doled out sweets happily, but made the exercise seem a tad juvenile.

In all, you may have tasted better tasting crunchy fried squids, but it's the entertainment package offered to kids that will draw you into this place again. The giant teddy bear's arrival to greet the kids was perfectly timed and there was not a glum face in the crowd. So if you are looking for a relaxed brunch experience with kids in tow then Mazina is right up your alley.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Sep 18, 2012
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