“Stressed is just desserts spelled backwards.” Muchachas
Two guys in Dubai have nailed the independent coffee shop scene with their trendy spaces, fantastic coffee and nutritious all-day dining menus. Tom & Serg, The Sum of Us and Common Grounds were the first three venues opened by Tom Arnel and Sergio Lopez, bringing a new edgy vibe to the Dubai casual dining scene as well as serving the best coffee in the region.
The award winning Bull & Roo (Arnel and Lopez’s parent company) duo, who met while working for Jones The Grocer, identified a gap in the market and introduced their own individual brand of coffee culture to the region. Not content with dominating the cafe scene they branched out earlier this year and opened their first pub, the Brunswick Sports Club followed by their latest offering Muchachas, a trendy Mexican Cantina that opened its doors last month.
These restaurant entrepreneurs have the midas touch, every venue that they’ve opened to date has turned to gold, their mission to change the way that Dubai folk take their coffee has been without any doubt a huge success. Housed in an expansive two-storey warehouse in Al Quoz, Australian Arnel and Spaniard Lopez’s first venture was Tom & Serg which opened in late 2013. It’s distinctive industrial decor embracing the warehouse interior style of exposed pipes, painted brickwork, metal staircase and concrete floors.
Just as much a favourite of Dubai’s digital nomads as its many yummy mummies, Tom & Serg is open from 8am daily until 4pm weekdays and 6pm at weekends (it doesn’t pander to late night trading like other UAE venues) and offers a good menu packed with affordable healthy food with vegetarian and vegan options too. This venue kicked started a wave of homegrown Bull & Roo venues each with their own unique concept but with core values of offering great coffee, delicious food and good service.
Located at Burj al Salam Trade Centre, The Sum of Us followed on the back of the success of Tom & Serg and was welcomed with open arms. More urban than industrial it has an in-house coffee roastery, freshly baked sourdough bread from its on-site bakery and a modern fuss free dining menu that attracts a big crowd especially at weekends.
The Mall of the Emirates expansion gave the duo an opportunity to expand into the mainstream mall environment where Common Grounds was born. Like the other two venues its staff are very friendly, tattooed bearded hipsters (the ladies minus the beards of course) serving the signature great coffee alongside a menu of baked goods and lots of avocados on sourdough with free range eggs.
Brunswick Sports Club described as “a mashup between an industrial Brooklyn gym and a rustic Melbournian neighborhood bar” marked a change in the Bull & Roo concept with the opening of the pair’s first licenced venue. Burgers and craft beers are on the menu served with a side of sport from its home in the Sheraton Hotel, Mall of the Emirates. Brunswick Sports Club has impressed the sports fans in the Emirate, this is the only venue of the five that I have yet to patronise but it’s high on my Dubai ‘to do’ list.
The newest member of the family, Muchachas is making quite an impact even though it’s just opened, a summer of promotional videos and a successful instagram campaign certainly raised the pre-opening hype. The success of the pair’s other venues meant expectations were high but fear not this new venture has certainly delivered. Tucked away inside the Holiday Inn Express near Safa Park it’s very trendy with cacti big and small, a pastel colour palette, quirky accessories and neon signs. A punchy cocktail menu accompanies the tasty food that’s ideal for sharing, in fact it has all the ingredients you need for a Mexican fiesta.
The teenager loves Mexican food so we tried out Muchachas on our recent Dubai staycation and we were impressed. The food was rapid and flavoursome, the service was tip-top and we loved the vibe, the restaurant was super busy even on a midweek night. Multi coloured tortilla chips and fresh dips were served as we perused the menu, we tried the vegetable quesadillas, tacos and chilli but we were too full to try any desserts on this visit. I had read mixed reviews about this latest addition to the Bull & Roo portfolio with regard to food quality and quantities but we enjoyed our experience and had no complaints except maybe that our food came so quickly that our visit was quite short.
The question is what do Arnel and Lopez have up their sleeve next? Will it be another cool cafe or more licensed establishments? Whatever it may be I’m sure it will be as fabulous as all the others, I’m hoping they will venture down the E11 in the near future and open a quirky cafe for us Abu Dhabi folk to enjoy closer to home.
Tom & Serg
15A Street, Al-Joud Center, Al Quoz Industrial 1, Dubai
Telephone: 056 474 6812
Open: Daily from 8am – 4pm weekdays and 8am – 6pm weekends.
The Sum of Us
Ground Floor, Burj al Salam Trade Centre on 6th Street
Telephone: 056 445 7526
Open: Daily 8am – midnight. Dinner from 5pm. Takeaway Bar Open: 8am – 6pm weekdays and 8am – 6pm weekends.
Level 2, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, Dubai
Telephone: 050 478 1094
Open: Daily 8am until 2:00am.
Brunswick Sports Club
Level 2, Sheraton Hotel, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, Dubai
Telephone: 056 404 0685
Open: Daily noon until 2:00am
Muchachas Mexican Cantina
Holiday Inn Express, Safa Park, Dubai
Telephone: 04 327 5878
Open: Daily noon until 1:00am and 2:00am on Thursday and Friday.
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved. First photo used courtesy of Tom&Serg Instagram and Brunswick Sports Club photos used courtesy of facebook.com/brunswicksc