I passionately avoid fine dining; I’m super unsophisticated and the restaurants feel too stuffy for me. (In the 9 years that I have known N, imagine that we’ve never gone to a ‘fancy’ restaurant together). When I got the invite for Garden, I almost ignored it. Being part of a large hotel, I just felt it wouldn’t be my thing. But I somehow ended up checking it out online and immediately fell for the decor and the casual vibe and quickly said yes. Also, I’ve tried Peruvian cuisine before and loved it so I was all ready to try it out one more time.
Garden is a newly opened restaurant at the JW Marriott Marquis that offers authentic Peruvian cuisine and comes all decked in a strong Peruvian vibe as well. I instantly fell for the decor – tribal prints, plants everywhere, gorgeous lighting – it’s all very kickass. I mean, just look at it. (Garden was previously Nawwara and has been renovated, so the signs still said Nawwara when I went there. If that happens to you, don’t be confused).
I went with a friend and we ate over a shared platter of different courses that kept getting served to us throughout the night. A round of starters, followed by the main course and then some dessert – pretty standard but with some absolute mouthwatering options that I cannot wait to have again.
Let’s quickly discuss what I had and what I loved. My PC crashed and I lost some of the images so I’ll use my words to explain 🙁
Started with a bread basket but it was hardly anything like your typical one – there was cheesy mozzarella bread that was SO GOOD. Guys, I haven’t had such bread before. It was tiny balls of bread with cheese oozing out of it and they just totally set the pace for the rest of the food.
Then we were served a few starters but the one that stole my heart was the Carpassion Tiradito – Salmon with passion fruit reduction and fried leeks. Have you ever tried passion fruit reduction? I haven’t and I feel serious regret over having missed out on something so incredible for 31 years of my life. I would go back in a second and just have this if I could (actually I can so I will). It was GOOD. My friend was crushing on the other starter more, Clasico Ceviche; sea bream marinated in a milky sauce – she really went for that one.
The main course had two items: Lomo Saltado and Aji De Gallina Hualpa. Makes no sense of course, so let me explain.
The Lomo Saltada pictured above was stir-fried beef with soy sauce & red vinegar, criollo potato on the side and topped off with a quail egg. It was GOOD.
But the hero was the Aji De Gallina Hualpa: this was shredded chicken breast in the CREAMIEST amarillo sauce with potatoes on the side. I died when I put this in my mouth but had to come back to life to eat more. SO GOOD.
We ended the night with a dessert that’s one of my absolute favorites in this world: Tres leches (which I didn’t know how to pronounce on Snapchat and one of the blog readers Maida taught me hah!). I saw this on the menu and nearly squealed. I’ve made this at home and it’s delicious as hell. The one I had at Garden was slightly different but divine. Tres Leches is a creamy sponge cake drowning in a sweet milky sauce; this one was served with yoghurt ice cream. It’s a really rich dessert but you must try once even if you don’t love things too sweet. (I make a mean tres leches cake at home and I’ll post on the blog when I make it again).
Finished it off with a chamomile tea, my friend took a coffee. I’d have loved that too but I was way too stuffed to take in anything else.
The restaurant has a super casual vibe, which I absolutely loved. It’s a place you can hang out and have fun with your friends or significant other. The music was unintrusive but great. There’s color, there’s print, there’s lots of green. Most importantly, the food is memorable and the kind you’d definitely want to go back for. AND it’s affordable so you end up having a great experience at a price that won’t break your bank.
I’d rate it a 4 out of 5. And recommend you to try out at least once.
Some quick stats:
Where: Garden at the JW Marriott Marquis
Dress code: Smart Casual
Per head: 200-250 AED
Recommend: Mozzarella Bread, Carpassion Tiradito, Aji De Gallina Hualpa and Tres Leches.
Timings: 19:00 – 00:00 (Tue-Sun), 19:00 – 01:00 (Thu-Fri)
First three images courtesy Garden.