Tucked in the 5th level of the world's tallest hotel is an authentic Peruvian restaurant that has just been launched recently. I missed the grand opening celebration sad to say, but I'm glad that I had the chance to try out the much-talked about vibrant Peruvian cuisine at the Garden during our anniversary staycation at JW Marriot Marquis last week.
I haven't been to Peru, yet the thought of dining at the Garden excites me. A good friend, blogger Doc Gelo, just came back from South America with wonderful travel stories hence it was a joy to have a little taste of the Peruvian cuisine and culture he has been talking about.
|Garden: Peruvian restaurant at JW Marriot Marquis|
The Ambiance and The Service
Ed and I were scheduled to dine at the Garden at 8 pm on a weekend, but since we were only 38 floors away, we showed up 30 minutes early. It was actually a good decision as the restaurant wasn't that busy yet; more time to take photos and more time to chit chat with the staff. 30 minutes later, it was a whole new scenario; the Garden was already buzzing!
The ambiance is very chill. Walls are covered in vibrant murals. Foliage and funky pendant lights adorn the centermost spot. The service was as bright and casual as the atmosphere. The menu was introduced to us effortlessly. As it was our first time in a Peruvian restaurant, we gladly welcomed recommendations from a staff who knows the menu by heart!
|funky Peruvian art on the walls of Garden restaurant|
Our Peruvian gastronomic journey started with a serving of complimentary cornbread, and was immediately followed with the classic Peruvian appetizers and drinks. Everything looked good but "alien" to us. So, we were utterly delighted when the servers took their time to explain each dish they bring to the table, and not just serve and leave us stunned.
We had the Carpassion Tiradito - a classic Peruvian raw fish dish which reflects the Japanese influence in the Peruvian culture. The dish was beautifully presented; fresh salmon sliced like sashimi, drizzled with passion fruit reduction, and topped with fried leeks! Every bite was delicate and tangy-sweet.
A must-eat in a Peruvian restaurant is Ceviche, hence Ed and I instantly agreed to have the Garden's best-selling Clasico Ceviche. The features remind us of the Filipino Kinilaw dish, but the taste is very distinct. It's all because of the special sauce called Leche de Tigre or Tiger's Milk! Quite a scary name, right? But don't be, it has no tiger milk in it! It's a full on flavour citrus-based marinade which is believed to give extra strength. Perhaps, a strength of a tiger as they said it can easily cure hangover!
Our server also recommended Papitas Rellenas, a potato dish filled with minced beef tenderloin. This Peruvian-style croquettes gave us a good tasteful break from the raw dishes and made us look forward to more exciting flavours in the main course.
What made the Peruvian appetizers more appetizing is a glass of Pisco! Garden has a good list of Pisco cocktails. I had the Copa de Peru which is quite like Pina Colada, but it has coconut syrup in it instead of milk. I love the refreshing tropical taste! So sooo good with ceviche!
|Copa de Peru|
Ed, on the other hand, had Chilcano - a concoction of Pisco, lime, and ginger beer. He loves any drink with ginger, but this he found strong and strange. It could be an acquired taste, so we'll see next time.
|Chilcano pisco cocktail|
The Main Dishes
For our main course, we had two out of the six specialties from the Chef Choice. Yes, there are only six main dishes on the two-page menu. Minimal, yet perfectly spelled quality over quantity!
We had Lomo Saltado which was wonderfully served in a pan. It's a popular Peruvian dish of well-marinated stir fried beef and criollo potato in soy sauce and red vinegar, and topped with sunny side up quail egg. It's a fine fusion of Asian and Peruvian flavours!
We also shared a serving of Patagonian Toothfish Escabechado. It's a colorful dish of delicious and delicate toothfish smothered with creamy escabeche sauce and white miso paste. It went so well with Grilled Esparragos - a side dish of fresh and crisp Peruvian asparagus served with black truffles! It's the fanciest and the tastiest grilled asparagus I have ever had!
|Patagonian Toothfish Escabechado|
Peruvian dessert is some kind of wonderful. We had Tres Leches - a creamy sponge cake with a special sauce made of three kinds of milk, topped with yogurt ice cream. The cake was swimming in the sauce yet it wasn't soggy, it's fluffy and rightly moist. It was O.M.G. drenched in milky creamy goodness!
My sweet little notes on the Garden
Ambiance: excellent for date nights and dinner with friends
Food: vibrant and authentic, ample serving size perfect for sharing
Service: fast, casual and efficient
Price: reasonable for authentic Peruvian food in a 5-star hotel
What we had (Prices as of October 2015):
Carpassion Tiradito: 60 AED
Clasico Ceviche: 50 AED
Papitas Rellenas: 40 AED
Lomo Saltado: 90 AED
Patagonian Toothfish Escabechado: 110 AED
Copa de Peru: 60 AED
Chilcano: 55 AED
Tres Leches: 40 AED
JW Marriot Marquis
Contact # +971 56 224 0956
Website: NLC | Park - Garden - Square