The big brunch review: La Carnita

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Does the brunch measure up to the restaurant’s cool reputation?

Mexican restaurant, La Carnita, has become a popular dinner destination for Marina’s cool crowd, since it opened its first Middle East location in the basement of Intercontinental Dubai Marina. With it’s diner-meets-warehouse decor, and blaring hip hop playlist, it stands out against the rest within its local area.

But how does the vibe pan out during daylight hours, for their Fuego Friday brunch?

Arriving at the brunch, the dim lighting contrasts with the striking sunlight, makes us wonder if the 12:30pm start time could be a bit premature.

The music included the expected line-up of Drake, Post Malone, Kanye West and The Weeknd, but was kept at a barely audible level until the DJ arrived at around 2pm. The room is not full, but busy, with the brunch clearly designed for groups rather than couples.

Food and drinks are served to the table, with beverage options ranging from wine, beer and spirits to a selection of Mexican-themed cocktails. Sangria is also on offer in either white, rosé or red variety.

The menu kicks off with a selection of chips and dips, spiced fries, huevos ranchos and cali salad. The ingredients are simple but tasty with a good kick of chilli across the board. We work our way through each dish, eager for more.

We’re offered two dishes for the main course and opt to share both. El Pollo Loco is a few pieces of fried chicken, ready to be dipped in the tangy honey & chilli sauce. Accompanied only by a corn on the cob, the plate is fairly minimal for a main dish. The second option is sesame lamb chops which are moist and sweet, although again, lacking a side dish to compliment the meat.

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Of course it wouldn’t be a Mexican brunch without tacos and out of a possible six options, we’re asked to select two each. Sadly, our favourite from the main menu ‘In Cod We Trust’, isn’t one of them, but there are tasty alternatives for fans of chicken and chorizo. There are a surprising, and pleasing, amount of vegetarian options on offer for a restaurant whose name translates to ‘shredded meat’.

A bucket of mouth-watering churros were the grand finale, with a pot of warm, creamy caramel sauce for us to happily dunk them in. They were soon polished off and it was time to work them off on the dance floor.

By the time we’d finished our courses, both brunchers and La Carnita staff had gathered in front of the DJ booth to get down to their favourite song. There are some serious talent within both crowds and whether you want to join in or not, the entertainment factor is high.

Throughout the afternoon, the staff were always on hand to make sure we had a great time. Our drinks orders were remembered and the food arrived promptly. We would love to see more choices on the menu, but would recommend for a laid-back, group celebration.

Fuego Fridays, La Carnita, Intercontinental Dubai Marina, 12:30pm to 4pm, Fridays, Dhs250 soft, Dhs350 house. Tel: (04) 425 4030. www.lacarnita.ae

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