Looking for a new brunch this weekend? You 100% need to get down (or up, since it’s on the 72nd Floor) to Hotel Cartagena! Based in the JW Marriott Marquis, this restaurant has already been receiving great reviews and I can tell you right now that their brunch is one not to be missed.
The venue is beyond incredible! It’s bright and vibrant and feels like you’ve just stepped into a crazy tropical rain forest in the middle of South America (minus the blingy Dubai touches). The pretty much 360-degree floor to ceiling windows with stunning views of the city just add to the whole drama of the restaurant. It’s breath-taking.
My friend and I began our brunch with drinks at the opulent bar (after taking 50 million pics first, this place has some super ‘grammable spots) and decided to give some of the cocktails a whirl. There are 4 on the brunch menu and they all pack a serious punch with the Pisco Punch (shocker!) being our favourite of the day. Following a couple of cheeky tipples we were shown to our table and ready for what was shortly to become foodie heaven.
The starters began to flow and were seemingly endless. I’m talking deliciously fresh guacamole and tropical root chips, ceviches, empanadas, salads, the list goes on. I had so many favourites but I think a shoutout needs to go to the Corn Chicharones with manchego cheese, smoked paprika and lime cream which were so simple yet so flavourful. The Aji Tuna Poke also deserves some recognition. It was a bit of a “make-your-own” with small bowls of avocado, puffed rice, pumpkin seeds and lettuce wraps, making it fun and keeping it healthy.
No sooner had we finished our starters than the Latin-American music innocuously playing in the background was pumped up and what was a already a buzzing atmosphere began to turn into a full blown party as dancers strutted around the restaurant and the staff got involved pulling up diners to join in. This had the potential to be massively cheesy but it really worked!
Onto mains and we were not disappointed. The grilled meat takes centre stage here, with the lamb chops winning my heart. Perfectly cooked and subtly flavoured they weren’t huge but just divine. The Trinidadian Guava rum chicken also really stood out with a very unique tang. The Puerto Rican Braised Short rib was super succulent and we loved the addition of the coconut polenta. The prawns (which would normally be my fave) were nice but needed a little more depth of flavour in order to compete with the other dishes. Honestly there was so much food we couldn’t eat it all and that is very, VERY unusual for us!
The presentation of the dishes is cranked up a notch with the desserts which came out in a gorgeous bird cage and luckily for our overstuffed stomachs were all in small bite size portions. Fresh fruits, a divine mango cheesecake and passion fruit tres leche all feature and were equally delicious. It was the perfect end to the meal. Despite being fit to bust however I couldn’t resist being cheeky and asking if there was any way we could get one of the “Chocolate Cigars” that I’d seen popping up on my Instagram feed and the staff were more than willing to oblige. Such a simple but cute idea!
On the drinks front, as I mentioned there are 4 cocktails available, sparkling wine, red, white and rose along with house beer and spirits so plenty of options available. Priced at 395 AED I think this is an actual steal, especially when compared to some of the pricier and less impressive brunches I’ve visited of late.
Last but by no means least I really have to say a huge thank you to the staff at Hotel Cartagena, who were not only extremely knowledgeable and passionate but incredibly fun and really brought the party to this brunch.
If I had to compare Hotel Cartagena’s brunch I’d say it’s on the Coya level, with a very similar buzz and vibe to the whole event. It is going firmly up there on my list and I can’t wait to go back!
For more information go to http://www.hotelcartagena.ae/ or call 04 5601799