Location: Mina a Salam
375 AED –Non-Alcoholic Package
525AED – Alcoholic Package
Timings: 12.30pm-4.00pm (last drink order at 3.30)
“He who drinks gets drunk; He who gets drunk goes to sleep; He who goes to sleep does not sin; He who does not sin goes to heaven; So let’s all drink and go to heaven” –Mexican Proverb
Whenever I think of Mexican cuisine, I immediately associate it with fun. I think of Chips and spicy salsas, tacos packed with flavor, sizzling fajitas, margaritas and shots of tequila. Tortuga which signifies ‘turtle’ in Spanish is a colorful and vibrant restaurant. Large Mexican paintings, Mexican hand made ornaments, and large sombreros are scattered around the restaurant giving it an authentic Mexican feel.
The food at Tortuga is roughly broken down into five sections:
- Salad bar- which includes a handful of Mexican salads, and nachos with option of multiple salsas (from mild to fire-in-my-mouth spicy) and everybody’s favorite dip- guacamole. The star salad is the Jicama salad. Jicama is a type of turnip unique to Mexico.
- Seafood bar- which includes oysters (tasty but small size), prawns (with and without shell), crab legs (which I find not worth the hassle of breaking them down for a measly microgram of meat), sushi, and a ceviche station. Four types of ceviche are offered (salmon, tuna, scallop, shellfish). As a big fan of ceviche I was super exited and immediately filled up with a portion of each. Sadly they all disappointed with their blandness. Perhaps los amigos should leave the ceviche to los Peruanos.
- Street food section- this contains tacos, empanadas, pelliscadas, tostadas, and flautas. Everything was average and in need of a lot more flavor; and not a single item enticed me to go back for seconds.
- Mains and sides section- the proteins consisted of grilled flank steak, chicken, and sea bass. Sides consisted or rice, beans, corn, and fries. Despite not being a fan of flank, the steak was my clear favorite (tip- top it off with chimichurri and garlic confit).
- Deserts- section of cakes, fruits, and the crowd favorite- churros.
This brunch includes access to the neighboring restaurant Hanaaya, which is an International restaurant. I genuinely dislike the concept of ‘International’ restaurant; and Hanaaya did absolutely nothing to change my mind. The seafood section is a duplicate of Tortuga. The remaining items, mostly Asian and Arabic options, are all standard versions and thus tedious.
Drinks options are disappointingly limited, especially given the hefty price tag. Beer is limited to Corona (I can go on an endless rant on how horrible this cerveza is). Wines include white, red, and prosecco. Tortuga opts to be yet another lazy bar serving spirits and mixers, instead of putting a little effort into making actual cocktails. However what infuriated me the most, is that although they offer Mexico’s contribution to the world of global cocktails ie. The Margharita ; they only offer the frozen version. Even more bizarre, is the exclusion of tequila shots from the package. Don Patron and Senor Jose Cuervo would be turning in their graves. Tortuga has an extensive list of tequila and mezcal; and it is a real shame that none of that is included in the brunch. Que verguenza!
What about the Mariachi band you ask? Well they either overslept did not show up or Tortuga failed to make the arrangements. No shots, no live music, and you have the audacity to charge AED 525? Tortuga have all the right ingredients to deliver a super brunch if they wished (cool venue, quality food, and quality beverages). Given the arrival of new competition (La Tablita and Zoco), they would be wise to wake up and deliver a quality experience before they are beaten to the punch.
Value for Money: 10/20.