Late afternoon on a Saturday is a strange time to eat in Dubai. Lunch options are long gone, while dinner is still some distance away. And yet, if you’ve risen late and had a late breakfast, this might be exactly the time you’re looking to dine. So the question is what to eat and where to eat it?
We put this theory to the test recently with a lazy Saturday at Mina A’Salam. The summer deal, for use of the pool and beach, and valid until the end of September, is Dhs395 per person, which includes a Dhs150 food and drinks voucher. What this meant in practise was a day of sunbathing and poolside brunch (in the actual sense of the word: a meal that takes places somewhere between breakfast and lunch).
So, as the sun was going down and we were peckish again, it was time to find a relaxed environment where we’d be comfortable in pool clothes and could pick at different dishes, drink a cocktail and then head of for an early night. In other words, the perfect, semi-comatose Saturday in Dubai.
Which is where Tortuga comes into the picture. It’s open throughout the afternoon, it’s literally a stone’s throw from the pool and, during mid-afternoon, they’re more than happy for you to wander in wearing flip-flops, shorts and smelling of tanning oil and salt water. A promising start.
With this in mind, you’re probably not looking for a formal starter, main course, dessert sort of meal, served by a tuxedo-clad waiter. What you’ll get here is a run through the gamut of Mexican staples, which includes burritos enchiladas and fajitas, with some more testing dishes such as the Lobster Rosarito, Rajas Poblanas Stew and Pibil Whole Roasted Chicken.
We were looking for simple, comfort food, but we wanted good, fresh ingredients – and that’s exactly what we got. The guacamole was fresh and zesty. The salsa was agreeably spicy. And the quality of steak used in the fajitas, not to mention the chicken in the Cancun dish, were top drawer cuts of marinated meats. As a bonus, anything fried managed not to be greasy, but stayed on the light side of indulgence.
It was fun to pick at and share these dishes among the table, and, if restraint was shown, it left room for a non-restrained dessert of Churros dipped in rich, chocolate sauce. All this was washed down with a margarita, and we were out of the door, suitably refreshed, but not stuffed, as the sun set disappeared below the water.
Later on of course, the restaurant fills with more fromally dressed diners, the band strikes up and it turns into a more typical Mexican-themed night out. But at this more low-key time of the day, this is the perfect way to end a lazy weekend.
Our advice: clear your schedule one Saturday, book in at the pool and then go get Mexican. It’s a really good way to stay relaxed and sane this summer.
Tortuga Mexican Bar & Kitchen, Mina A’Salam Hotel at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. For reservations, call 04 366 6730. For day passes at the pool and beach, call +971 4 366 6821 or email MJtalisefitness@jumeirah.com