Wanderlust at Garden

A party brunch that’s no longer much of a party

Wanderlust at Garden
Wanderlust at Garden Image #2

When wanderlust arrived on the Friday scene three years ago the ambitious event immediately impressed brunchgoers. The sprawling buffet was so massive that a map was required, and the vibe was upbeat and fun.

The brunch’s popularity has shown no sign of waning since, so it’s with high expectations that we head to the JW Marriott Dubai in Business Bay.

The process is simple – it’s Dhs425 all in, and over 21s only. You’re greeted with a glass of sparkling and led into the hotel’s Peruvian restaurant Garden.

Venue-wise it’s a top space summer or winter, as interiors are vibrant and fun, while the expansive terrace is where the party is at in cooler weather (so try to book this area if you can).

The crowd is mostly groups and people are here to have a good time. But it’s not the party it used to be.

In comparison to some of the newer, shinier party brunches in the city, this seems like the slightly jaded older sibling. There’s no entertainment to speak of (you won’t find confetti cannons, carnival dancers or wandering musicians here) bar a DJ, who no one is dancing to.

There are various inventive mixed drinks stations dotted around the terrace – including a fresh coconut stand – but nothing more than any other buffet brunch in town has to offer.

Food is decent (as you’d expect from the hotel) and there’s every cuisine you could hope for. Though we’re not sure why dishes are served in bite-sized portions, meaning brunchgoers are patrolling the buffet armed with a tray (are we in a school canteen?).

The Italian station is excellent, with fresh, vibrant salads, tasty arancini and mini pasta parcels, while it’s also worth taking a wander through the Asian kitchen (literally) where you can pick up steaming, fragrant Thai green curries, crunchy papaya salads and punchy, tasty noodles.

The barbecue serves up tender meats, but swerve the sushi, which is more than a little sad and soggy. The doughnut wall is mostly an Instagram prop, and remains largely untouched.

Nothing is terrible, but nothing is particularly impressive either.

In fact the brunch is underwhelming in every way, which is a huge shame.

Bang on 4pm the lights come on (a fairly aggressive move) and brunchgoers are rapidly shifted to the after-party. It’s a weird, abrupt end, but we’re happy not to hang around anyway, as it’s not the brunching behemoth it once was.
Dhs425 (house beverages). Fri 1pm-4pm. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay (04 414 0000).

A party brunch that’s no longer much of a party

The inventive drinks stations

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