So it’s no secret that I love brunch. Did I mention that I love brunch? Because, I really love brunch. And the only person who quite possibly loves to brunch more than me is babe.
So just a little back story. Carlos and I met on a Saturday night- Cinco De Mayo weekend and our first date was immediately the following Sunday. What can I say- I’m just that awesome. Anyhow, I knew it was love because he asked me to meet him where? You guessed it- at brunch. Ok ok ok, it wasn’t quite love- more like “oh he’s cute AND he likes to brunch AND he smells nice”, but you get the idea. I was definitely more in love with food and bottomless mimosas at the time.
Fast forward 5 years and whole other country later and here we are. We have found the place in which our hearts and bellies love. The land of every brunch-lovin lush’s dream, the UAE. Now let me tell you that you have not brunched until you have been to a brunch in Abu Dhabi or in this case, Dubai. The brunches here are bountiful with the best in international cuisine and complete with all the booze you can stand- or maybe sit, if you can’t hold your own (but don’t lie down, you’re begging to be detained).
We have been to so many brunches together- too many to count, but recently traveled up to Dubai for the big guy’s birthday and ventured over to the “Wanderlust” Brunch at the GARDEN in JW Marriott Marquis and it was simply magical. Carlos had been wanting to try this brunch for a while now and so I thought this would be the best birthday surprise. The fact that it was called “Wanderlust” made perfect sense, as we LOVVEEE to travel and food is certainly our love language. Is food a love language? Well if it is, it’s certainly our love language.
Anyhow-in the states, brunches typically come with massive servings, music and craft-made cocktails, but mainly mimosas. That is the stateside staple and signature libation of a brunch. But here in the UAE- those are just palate cleansers, a prelude aperitif to a preposterous amount of pleasing drinks and clinks, combined with literal music to your ears.
I mean imagine this, as we entered the brunch area- we were greeted with glasses of champagne and the sounds of Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me” rang through the halls (don’t ask why I knew this song at 9 years old- Hi Mom). But I couldn’t help but sing along. #Imgrownnow. I knew then that we had found our happy place. Champagne and 90s jams- this was already shaping up to be a birthday adventure we would never forget.
The extra bubbly host then gave us a rundown of the days festivities and led us to our table. So why not start by getting into the decor. It certainly gave me southwestern travel gypsy chic vibes with its bright and beautiful colors and murals.
After we were seated, I decided to let the birthday boy take a tour of the brunch offerings first. I mean after all- it was his big day and he is always the consummate gentleman for me. Nonetheless, he of course returns with a cocktail in hand, and the biggest grin as he reveals a definite mood-pleasera, a map. That’s right- the brunch came with a map that doubles as your serving tray, showcasing all the places you could travel on your “wanderful” adventure. After mulling over the map, I made my way to the mojito bar for a fresh coconut filled with coconut water and of course, coconut rum (hey double or nothing right).
This brunch was absolutely the cornucopia of cuisine with everything from fresh seafood to Italian, Mediterranean, Indian and even American. You could traverse through the kitchen and have a chance to take in the extra friendly chefs at their live cooking stations, with eats and treats scattered all about in the “Can you handle the heat” section.
Not to mention the “Seafood Sanctuary” with everything from crab legs to prawns, marinated octopus and squid and of course- fresh lobster, large and in charge. It was definitely the star “fish” or should I say crustacean of this show, along with the coconut crusted camarones a.k.a fancy word for shrimp and the pumpkin stuffed ravioli from “Little Italy”. Flavor was definitely not a fond memory here.
And it helped to have the whole lot laid out with that handy dandy map on a tray, in addition to the uber cute signage posted in each individual place, like “Say Cheese” in the cheese and charcuterie area, or “Curry Away” for India and “Meat Me There” for the hot meat section.
After stuffing our faces, we figured we had room for a little more. I mean who are we kidding, when it comes to desserts- there is ALWAYS room for more, and the dessert area ala “Candy Shop” did not disappoint.
A wide selection of every sweet and confection from gourmet maple pecan and caramel ice cream, fresh handmade crepes, waffles and lava cakes in one area to the chocolate fountain framed with selections of fudge, truffles, brittles and awesome mini donuts coming down a miniature assembly line. Mascarpone, meringues, trifles, cookies, cakes, pies- they had it all. Not to mention- poached pears, if you were feeling fancy and even a tree that swung chocolate coated sweets from its branches.
I appreciated the smartly placed neon light sign, right over the treats-specifically the fruit section, (which I didn’t even touch by the way #judgeme) that stated “Hello Gorgeous”. Now I don’t know, but I think that was a personal invite for me to become a pure glutton and gorge this gigantic crepe and ice cream and I happily accepted.
But the piece de resistance- I love using that phrase because it’s French, was the DONUT WALL. Yes you read it- the DONUT WALL… the wall of donuts….le donutte walle…the display of sweet decadence with FULL SIZED DONUTS
So I present- the “Mur De Beignet” (that’s fancy French for the donut wall, but doesn’t it sound so much better), with donuts as take home treats.
If you love great food from all over, fun and strong cocktails, comped shots of Jager that taste like junior year of college and great music, then this is certainly the brunch for you. I mean DJ Adam J kept me partying in my seat all day long. We are talking old school from Biggie’s Juicy to Candy Rain by Soul4Real to the new school stuff like Drake and Bey and every flavor in between. He was even sweet enough to give us copies of his mixtape, which I listened to alllll the way back to Abu Dhabi. Check him out as well. Hands down the best brunch DJ I have heard in my 2 years in the UAE.
We retired to the complimentary after party hosted by the hotel and ended up dancing the afternoon away with Smirnoff logo printed red solo cups. Now you all know- if it’s in a red cup, then it “gots ta be real”. And it got real. So real that by the end of the afternoon I was in sandals. Needless to say, the birthday boy and I were back in the hotel by 6pm for a nap, that turned into sleep and we never made it out that night, because well that’s what partying in your 30s looks like. You have every intention of making the most out of your night, when the night ends up making the most and biggest mess out of you.
But my birthday boo had a blast and we would do it all over again….if we were 20 and 21 and 22. Whew those were the days. Before the gluten intolerance, lower back surgeries, motion sickness, cracked knee caps (DISCLAIMER: I hit my knee on the table- I’m not lazy) amongst other things, etc. etc.
So thank you to the JW Marriott Marquis for a “wanderful” time and we hope to come back soon. As in next few months…when its cooler outside, because we heard you have outdoor games too during the regular season. If in Dubai- check out the Wanderlust brunch. You can also get a 15% off discount as well as a complimentary cocktail at the after- party using the Mr. & Mrs. Brunch App. #ExPatHack #BudgetnistaHack
“And I think to myself…..what a wanderful brunch” aka Devereaux
P.S. When I first moved here I couldn’t get this skirt on, let alone get it to zip, now it slides right on. Now after brunch it was a different story (talk about tiny victories #Ivehaditfor8years #Pow) AND these shoes were the first gift Carlos ever bought me- 4 years ago for Christmas, just paying a little homage to my hunny.