Restaurant Review: Hotel Cartagena

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Published: Thu 4 Mar 2021, 5:30 PM

Latin American food is a delicious study in diversity. And Dubai, which ranks in the top 10 in a Google survey, as one of the most diverse foodie capitals of the world, has a bevy of restaurants that offer best of Lat-Am food. In pre-Covid times, there used to be a celebration of the vibrant and demonstrative Lat-Am culture and cuisine in April at Dubai Latin Fest. Alas! The pandemic has made such joyous celebrations a thing of the hoary past.

By Joydeep Sen Gupta

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However, Lat-Am cuisine is a generic term, as the food flavours are at odds with the vast expanse, including Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil and the wild Patagonia. But there is a one-stop destination in town. Look no further than Hotel Cartagena on the 72nd floor of JW Marriott Marquis at Business Bay, Dubai, the world’s tallest five-star hotel.

Every Wednesday, between 5.30pm and 12am, unwind on a Lat-Am culinary journey sans frontier, and all the way down to the pulsating Calypso beats of the Caribbean.

Flavours are as eclectic as Cartagena owner Mrs Buendia’s signature dishes, including tapas plates of Fresh Guacamole & Chips — comprising mashed avocado, spiced tabbouleh — or succulent Chicken Anticuchos — paired with sumac and togarashi and anticuchera sauce — Shrimp Aguachile and melt-in-your mouth Braised Beef Empanadas filled with sweet plantain and avocado poblano.

Taste (5/5): Authentic to a T. It’s fusion light bites not only celebrate the vast region’s diversity but also trace its origin to the Spanish tradition. And Cartagena, a port city in north-west Colombia in the Caribbean, acts as a perfect foil to the geographical indicator of Lat-Am food and its diverse palate

Ambience (5/5): Hotel Cartagena is spread over two-floors and has a 250-cover in pre-Covid times. Alas! The exhilarating Latino dancers are missing in action owing to the pandemic restrictions. But their absence is more than compensated by the breath-taking view of the majestic Burj Khalifa

Service (4/5): Vladimir Gelev, the charming operations manager of Weslodge Saloon, who runs Hotel Cartagena, is a livewire. The affable Macedonian, who has been a seasoned hand in the food and beverage sector, ensures that guests are well looked after

Presentation (4/5): Connoisseurs maintain presentation is the key to attract all five senses into the experience of eating. Hotel Cartagena nearly ticks all the boxes, from smelling the ingredients, to enjoying the texture, and visually tasting the food, before relishing it

Covid-consciousness (5/5): All Covid-19 measures are being strictly followed by Hotel Cartagena’s staff members. Face masks and sanitisers are available for customers as well as a mandatory three-metre social distancing among all tables

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