Back in 1841 two friends bought some land in the South East corner of Australia. One of them was called Tom, and they named the estate Brunswick, which is now a popular suburb of Melbourne.
Fast forward to 2016 and two friends rented a restaurant space in the South(ish) East corner of Mall of Emirates. One of them was also called Tom, and they too named it The Brunswick Sports Club, which is also now a popular hang-out for Dubai residents. Creepy similarities, right? What’s even creepier is that it’s a true story – kind of.
Anyway, Tom & Serg have opened their fourth F&B establishment, and they do seem to have developed a certain formula for cranking out popular haunts. However, I have their magic formula figured out, and I’ve put it into a simple five-step process for you.
- Choose a type of eatery that is well known but hasn’t been redefined since the seventies. (Cafes, sports bars, perhaps even Mexican, etc.)
- Redefine it. (Craft beverages, on-trend food, beards, tattoos, annoyingly good knowledge about coffee, etc.)
- Hire all the cool kids, in all shapes, colours, sizes, and hairstyles. Teach them not to say Ma’amSir.
- Sprinkle some magic dust and open the doors.
- Receive industry award three months later.
Easy, right? You can all go out and open your very own restaurant now, thanks to me.
The Brunswick Sports Club is an achingly retro sports bar that has had some modern day upgrades on a backdrop of industrial decor. Chilled keg rooms and walk in chillers have now become visual displays of products and old posters of sports and pictures of lesser known sporting heroes hang from brick walls.
The space surprisingly feels light and airy but is intimate and relaxed at the same time. There is an “outdoor” indoor smoking area and the toilets are ‘locker rooms.’ There are two seating choices – up high with padded bar stools or down low with hard wood benches. The Serb wanted up high, as she has a very delicate derriere (apparently) and the hard seating was uncomfortable. I wanted to sit down low, as I prefer to be as close to my food as possible and boast a rather studier backside. There could really only be one winner, though – so we sat up top at one of the high benches and looked through the menus. On a side note, the table configuration is very well thought-out as it allows groups of friends to congregate around a high table and all be at the same level, regardless if you are sitting or standing.
The T&S team know where their strengths lie, but more importantly they understand their limitations. Consequently, they rarely try to re-invent the wheel, but they are bloody good at making it better – a lot better.
The beverage menu is like a teenager that has just gone through puberty and is starting to mature into a nice young man. That’s a horrible analogy – possibly the worst I have written. What I am trying to say is that the beverage menu is young, accessible and playful without being immature and childish. The eight draught selections are all about quality and variety and come in four different sizes as is normal in Australia. There is a section called “Shooters and Fun Stuff” and the grape choices are quaffable and unpretentious. Yes, I just used the word, quaffable.
The food menu is basic, simple yet seriously upgraded – like a Nissan Sunny that has been on Pimp My Ride and now has a Jacuzzi for three in the back. The menu is split into simple categories – snacks, shares, burgers, dogs and main plates. The burgers choices are inventive and plentiful – thirteen burger choices, from The Hula Girl to The Mac Daddy. There seems to be no end to the world’s fascination with burgers.
We ordered the cheesy mac bites, which are crispy fried mac & cheese cubes, with a sweet chili mayo. Once you crack open the breading, the gooey cheese oozes out with chunks of macaroni pasta, like the gory special effects of a B horror movie. However, it tasted ridiculously good, and I am salivating over my keyboard at the memory of it.
We also ordered the buttermilk fried chicken, with Frank’s hot sauce. The chicken was over fried and came out a little too dark which made the chicken a little too chewy to be a hit for me. Also, in case you were wondering, Frank’s sauce is very hot.
The food is served on the old school white enamelware metal plates and dishes with the blue rim. The kind my dad uses when camping. The great thing about these metal plates is they won’t break when you throw them at the TV because your team just lost and you know the chefs aren’t microwaving your food in them because they would explode.
We also ordered the lamb bangers and the buttermilk chicken burger. My sausages were juicy and fatty – as they should be – full of flavor and elevated by fresh herbs and seasoning. The mashed potatoes were creamy, hot and spot on, as were the peas, whose minty kiss brought a freshness to the whole plate. However, the rosemary jus was overly sweet for me – sickly sweet – and didn’t help at all with the balance of the dish. More rosemary, less sugar in your jus, please, Brunswick!
The buttermilk chicken burger was stellar and their house made brioche bun (in whose house it was made, I’m not sure) was a wonderful vessel for the crispy chicken and other fillings. It was spicy and lively with, (of course) a Sriracha mayonnaise, fresh iceberg and a generous slice of tomato.
There are troughs running down the length of the tables, which house all the cutlery, hot sauces, napkin and a variety of plants. It’s a nice touch but does mean there is a large trough running down the middle of your table. It causes havoc with the sharing plates, because when you don’t have a middle of the table, you don’t have any sharing space. Also, I think I might have lost a few minty peas down there on the way to sharing them with The Serb. My apologies. I bet the servers loved the designers for that detail.
Overall, Brunswick has raised the bar when it comes to sports bars. They have a few minor quirks, and I’m not sure how the bar & kitchen would cope when it is rammed for a big weekend night, but overall, they have a good game plan, and it was executed exceptionally well while I had my lunch there.
The Brunswick Sports Club is hidden behind a massive sliding door in the Sheraton Hotel in Mall of the Emirates, which is the least likely place to have a “neighbourhood sports bar” feel – but if anyone can make something work in an obscure location, it’s the Bull & Roo Team. It must be that magic dust they have.
And just imagine, this all started back in 1841 when two friends bought some land in the South East corner of Australia.