Calling out to the wild crazy party people, it’s Oktoberfest…anyone there?

I don’t drink.

I don’t do pork.

I (temporarily, until my doc gives me the green light), can’t eat beef.

So what was I doing signing myself up for Oktoberfest, placing myself in the midst of German beer and sausage lovers?

[For those who’re still reading this blog and haven’t x-ed out the screen in disgust at reading a blog by a foodie who shies away from beer and bacon, I humbly thank you for not hating on me.]

To answer the question, I just wanted a glimpse of the traditional German Oktoberfest action. The crowd. The rowdy singing yodeling scene. And even if I wasn’t sporting a beer mug, I wanted to play fly-on-the-wall, watch people go crazy and enjoy the fun from my cushy white sober seat. And I’d definitely join in on the dancing. (in fact, someone who’d once seen me at a party was shocked to hear that I hadn’t imbibed a drop of alcohol. Never quite figured out whether to feel flattered or insulted at that comment.)

We made reservations at the Hofbräuhaus, a German bar/restaurant at the JW Marriott in Deira. The place had this cozy, authentic German/European tavern feel, and as I entered the empty restaurant (empty because I got there super early, just so I could snip away a few photos in peace before the crowds got in) I could just imagine what the place would feel like once it filled up with raving mug-hoisting Octoberfest’ers. Our host set high expectations of crazy dancing to follow that evening: “I intentionally reserved a side table for your party so that you don’t get squished from either side with the crowd dancing on the benches.” My response to the kind and thoughtful host: “Um, actually, that’s exactly what I came for. Could we get a table in the center please? I want bench dancing. I want Wild.”

Well, either the scene at the JW Marriott last year was drastically different, or the host had ingested a few pints himself before the party had begun, and/or he’d attended the Oktoberfest party at the Grand Hyatt that week and in his post party beer-logged memories, got the experience mixed up with the dinner deal at the JW Marriott, but this place was anything BUT wild. Other than the two sultry imposter yodeling wheezing [evidently, opinions on our table varied hugely] singing ladies up on stage, and a rather domestic set of dance moves courtesy an energetic granny and (admittedly cute) children from the table behind us, the atmosphere was just really…there’s no other better word for it…tame.

Had I been aiming for a family-style gathering with a decent buffet and folksy music, I’d have been plenty satisfied. But having read about the crazy Oktoberfest evenings in the Grand Hyatt tent (which was sadly totally sold out), and having also read some pretty rowdy reviews about the JW Marriott (yet another reminder to self: don’t ever trust online reviews a 100%, even if they look totally legit) , I’d geared myself up to watch some unrestrained German debauchery…a wild hope that the JW Marriott just couldn’t live up to.

The only elements that redeemed the experience and saved the evening from being a total washout were…

…the awesome company (big shout-out to the folks who made it from our foodie group, Famished in Arabia, and the friends of my foodie friends who joined us for dinner!)

…the pretzels with the two types of mustard – sweet brown grainy and regular yellow

…the smoked salmon (not because it was spectacular. But because I love smoked salmon.) (The whole fish and the fishy rolls weren’t particularly memorable…)

…the creamy shrimp salad

…the heaty beef goulash (I snuck some beef in there, couldn’t resist.)…(my doc would never know.)…(let’s hope.)…(unless he’s stalking me online.)

…and did I mention the two mustards? I definitely overdosed on them, coating everything imagineable from the rubbery spatzle to the veal meatballs with mustard. The only thing I didn’t douse in mustard – but in retrospect, maybe I should have – was the half-baked apple streudel that had probably been yanked out of the oven before it had the time to really cook through.

Half-baked apple strudel with a floury mouth aftertaste. Not good.

I must admit that I feel quite wicked writing such a harsh review, especially when the JW Marriott folks had clearly attempted to include many German favorites in their buffet and gone out of their way to give our group a special discount package for the evening (before discounts: AED 180 for the buffet, and AED 365 for buffet & drinks). But it is what it is…if you’re looking for a fun family-style celebration, hop on on over to Hofbräuhaus. But if you’re all geared up for the wild Oktoberfest deal, with beer-mug hoisting and PG 13 dancing and high quality yodeling, this just ain’t the place to be.

Would definitely recommend checking out the website of one of my fav foodies in the city & one of the bloggers in our group that night, Sally Prosser. She’s just posted up a (far more tactful and infinitely less wicked) review on our Oktoberfest night, with a bonus yummy pretzel recipe thrown-in! 

JW Marriott, Dubai
Phone: +971 (0) 4 607 7977

Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

12 thoughts on “Calling out to the wild crazy party people, it’s Oktoberfest…anyone there?

  1. Sally says:

    Loved your account. Your pictures make the food look a lot better than I remember it! Fab night out overall due to excellent company.

    1. iliveinafryingpan says:

      thanks Rajani! eager to meet you at the next event!

  2. Ruth says:

    Great blog! Sorry it was such a let down :-( Just have to try and get in at the Hyatt for next year!

    1. iliveinafryingpan says:

      yep, I’m booking a month in advance next time! ;) But honestly, it’s a good place for a family style celebration…just wasn’t what I had personally set myself up for that day….

  3. Elin says:

    I enjoy your write out on this Oktoberfest in JW Marriott, Dubai and I can see you had lots of fun enjoying those mouth watering german food…salmon being my favourite :)) Thanks !

    1. iliveinafryingpan says:

      Thanks for stopping by Elin, I’m flattered! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *