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Jul 15, 2008

Cafe Ceramique – Qurum Commercial Area

Cafe Ceramique

Cafe Ceramique is a new cafe/art-workshop that opened a couple of months ago in Al Araimi Complex in Qurum Commercial Area. What I mean by a cafe/art-workshop is that the cafe serves food and also offers you ceramic pieces which you can purchase and paint at the cafe as well. Visiting the place was an awesome experience, the food was great and we had so much fun with the painting.

Cafe Ceramique

Ceramique Cafe is located on the ground floor of Al Araimi Complex right next to where Baskin Robins is. We came around 6.30pm and the place was almost empty, but by the time we left (around 9.30pm) the place was almost full. The crowd seemed to be mostly families with their children with a very few groups of mature people with no kids.

Cafe Ceramique

The food menu of Ceramique Cafe is half way between Darcy’s Kitchen and Cafe Barbera with hot and cold coffee drinks, juices, soft drinks, breakfasts dishes, bagels, sandwiches, quick bites, desserts and some other speciality dishes. We started our course from the drinks menu where we had a Cafe Latte (pictured above – RO 1.5), a Minty Lemon Juice (RO 2.2) and a couple of Mix n’ Match Juices (you mix two fresh juices – not pictured – RO 1.9). I had a Mix n’ Match Orange and Mango juice which I thought was really good.

Cafe Glacier

For the main course I had a Tough-in-The-Gulf Club Sandwich (it is the only club sandwich they have – pictured above – RO 3.5) which you can order with salad or with chips, I had mine with chips and I loved i, especially for its salad fillings. We also ordered a Chicken Quesadilla (pictured below- RO 3.6) which can also be ordered with salad of chips, and comes also with three dips. My other friend had a Chicken “Shawarma Pockets”(pictured down below – RO 3.5) which was pretty hard to handle, but supposedly tasted great as well.

Chicken Quesadilla

We thought that the food at Cafe Ceramique was great and the service was also good enough, but we also wanted to try out the painting part, which was the thing that made this place special. To paint a ceramic piece at the cafe you simply have to pick one from any of the shelves in the store, there are loads of different ones in all sorts of shapes and sizes, there are plates, cups, mugs, pots, boxes, ashtrays, and all sorts of statues and simple decoration pieces. The price of the piece is placed on its bottom and I think that it ranges from RO 2 to RO 15 or so, depending on the size and the shape.

Shawarma Pockets

Once you select the piece you want to paint, you are given a paper to select 5 colours and 2 outliners. These colours are then given to you with a sponge, water, and a set of brushes. You can colour as you please (instructions for this or the table paper and an *artist* is available in the store to help you if you need drawing guidance!) and when you are done you have to leave it in the cafe for them to fire the piece and glaze it (that takes at least 7 days).  You are given a receipt which you must use to collect your piece after the completion date. The pieces are all supposed to be microwave and dishwasher friendly and the colours do not contain any toxins so you can eat and drink using them.

Cafe Ceramique

The painting activity is really fun and relaxing, it felt like art classes from school, but seriously this is not something that you should attempt to do without planning on spending a lot of time in the cafe. We stayed for more than three hours and decided to leave cause it was already kinda late even though in theory we thought we can spend even much more time painting.

Ceramique Cafe - Omani Cuisine

Ceramique Cafe is the perfect place to go to if you have a family and would like to do something fun or even if you dont’ have a family and still want to go out and try something different for the weekend!

We’ll post a photo of the Omani Cuisine artwork when we get the piece from Cafe Ceramique next week!

Jul 11, 2008

2nd Avenue – Shatti Al Qurum

2nd Avenue

2nd Avenue is a new-ish continental restaurant in Shatti Al Qurum, it is located in a random place in-between the houses near Grant Hayyat. I suggest that you call them (2469 5164) to ask for directions if you would like to know where the place is exactly. 2nd Avenue is not a branch of an international franchise but a local restaurant owned by the same person who owns the Lebanese Tarboosh restaurant.However, it is much more fancier and expensive than Tarboosh.

2nd Avenue - Waitress

2nd Avenue has a seating outside (which I suppose will be used in nicer times of the year), a smoking area on the ground floor of the restaurant, and a bigger seating area on the first floor of the restaurant. The strange thing about 2nd Avenue is that when I get inside the restaurant it instantly feels like you travelled back to the year 1995. The restaurant is fancy, but the taste of furniture is quite old-school (in a weird way).

2nd Avenue - Tilmedoe

The menu of 2nd Avenue has all sorts of *continental* food, i.e. salads, sandwiches, pasta , steaks, sizzlers and grills. We had three starters, the first was a”Tilmedoe” (pictured above – RO 1.5) which was basically some potatoe cubes seasoned with some spices and baked in the oven. It was just okay but not really special.The second was a ‘Quesadilla’ (pictured below – RO 3.0) which is flat tortilla sandwich, it was not as cheesy as the one served in Chilli’s and quite nice (I really liked it!).

2nd Avenue - Quesadilla

2nd Avenue - Pop Cord Shrimp

The third starter we had was a “Pop Corn Shrimp” (picured above – RO 3.0) which is a dish of fried breaded shrimps (think KFC Pop Corn Chicken but for srimps!), it was well cooked and awesome. For the main course, I had a ‘Chicken Gabiello’ (pictured below – RO 4.5) which was a dish of cubed chicken marinated in youghurt and vegetables. It tasted good, but I thought that the sauce it came with was a bit too thick because of the yougurt. It came with french fries and vegetables.

2nd Avenue - Chicken Gabiello

My friends had a’Pepper Steak’ (pictured below – RO 5) and the other one had a ‘Cordon Blue’ chicken dish (last image down below – RO 4.5), nobody had any complaints about their main courses, but I did not hear them praise any of it either. We all had fresh juices with our food (lemon/mint, water melon, and mago juice). We did not take a look at the disserts menu because we decided to go somewhere else for it.

2nd Avenue - Pepper Steak

The service at 2nd Avenue was excellent (I do not know if it was affected by the fact that we told them we are taking photographs for a website), but waiters were buzzing around all the time, somebody started smoking in the non-smoking section and a waiter told him to stop smoking (and he did), the food came quickly and it was exactly what we ordered.

2nd Avenue - Cordon Blue

We ordered 1 small mineral water bottle, 3 fresh juices, 3 starters, and 3 main courses, our bill came out to RO 28.667 taxes included.

We thought that our visit to 2nd avenue was okay. The place was fine, but was way too dark upstairs for my liking. Food-wise, I liked the starters way more than the main courses we had, I did not think that what I had (the Chicken Gabiello) was memorable at all. My friend seemed to like the place more and thinks that he would come again to check out the other items on the menu.

May 2, 2008

Cafe Glacier – Al Khuwair

Cafe Glacier

Cafe Glacier is a very old coffee shop in Zakher Mall in Al Khuwair. It is, just like Darcy’s Kitchen, a unique Omani franchise. It has two branches, the main one in Al Khuwair, and the second smaller one in Markaz Al Bahja. Even though it opened in 1995, I’ve never actually been to it before last year.

Cafe Glacier

Glacier of Zakher Mall is not the most spacious of restaurants, there are less than 10 tables inside and a couple outside the cafe in the mall side. However, the place is not tight in space at all, and I think that smoking is prohibited inside the coffeeshop. I’ve only been to Glacier around lunch time and the place did not seem busy at all during any of my visits.

Cafe Glacier

Glacier’s menu is made up of a long list of cold drinks and juices, ice creams, pancakes and waffles, but in addition to these they also serve rolls and sandwiches, salads, and snacks such as burgers and different types of stews.

Cafe Glacier - Club Sandwiches

On 99.9% of the times we have Glaciers we always go for the club sandwiches. Glacier’s club sandwiches are one of the best in town, if not THE best. The club sandwich meal comes with potato chips and is very filling. The reputation of club sandwiches at work is unchallengeable, it is our definitive take away lunch ever.

Cafe Glacier - Sate Maison

On the remaining 00.1% of the times we order at Glacier we usually got for the Sate Maison that comes with peanut sauce. I enjoyed it when I had last time, even though that must’ve been really ages ago.

Toasted sandwiches such as the club sandwich cost from RO 1.700 to 2.600, salads cost from RO1.400 to RO 3.200, snacks cost from RO 1.500 to RO 3.400, cakes cost around RO 0.800, ice creams around 2.500, and pancakes and waffles cost from 1.100 to 2.100.

I didn’t really try a lot of things at Glacier, but I really can’t recommend the club sandwiches enough, I think that it is the perfect office lunch for those who want to have something simple yet delicious at a place that is not crowded at lunch time!

Jan 18, 2008

Review: Nando’s – Al Qurum Commercial Area

Nandos - Muscat

Nandos is a spicy grilled chicken restaurant in the Qurum Commercial Area right in front of the CCC. The cuisine of Nandos could be said to be Portuguees with an African twist, and is loved internationally by its fans in a cult-like manner. The restaurant closed down after the cyclone Gonu hit Muscat last year and only opened up on Eid last month. It looks different and nicer now, but a bit tighter in space as well

Nandos

Nandos in the Middle East is different from branches abroad in that it is a proper dine-in restaurant, you do not go up to the counter and order in Oman, you get seated, the menu comes, and then you order the same way you would do at a Pizza Hut or a Chilli’s. I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant in places where you had to almost serve yourself, get the sauces, cutlery, and everything else and think that Nandos is ‘almost’ boring here because of this, but I guess that it might not work in the Middle East because of culture differences.

Nandos - Humous - Oman

Nandos menu is made up mostly of chicken dishes. For starters, they have chicken liver, chicken wings, corn, mixed olives, and humous. I think that I tried them all, and my favourite is the humous which comes with a bit of Nandos spicy sauce and a deliciously tender pita bread.

Nandos Quarter Grilled Chicken - Oman

The famous main course of Nandos is grilled chicken which you can order either as a quarter, a half, or a whole chicken marinated with the level of spiciness you choose: Lemon and Herb, Mild, Hot, and Extra Hot. The Extra Hot is probably way too hot for many, start with Mild even if you are a fan of spicy food. Nandos is very famous for its spicy sauces that you should find on the table, there are various ones which you should try out if you’re there.

Nandos - Chicken Breast in Pita - Oman

Other main courses served at Nandos include chicken burger, chicken breast in pita bread (pictured above) , chicken rolls, chicken strips with rice, and espitada – which is a dish of grilled chicken cubes served with cooked vegetables. (pictured below) Some meals such as the burger and beast in pita come with Nandos spicy mayo which you could also order separately as a dip. Many of the dishes come as meals that let you pick one or two sidelines to have with the chicken, these sidelines include chips, rice, and coleslaw.

Nandos Espetada - Oman

Starters at Nandos cost about RO1, while a main course meal for one person costs between RO2 to RO3 – taxes excluded.

We are happy to have Nandos again in town after Gonu, many of the people that went to it in the few first days did not seem to be happy with the service, and I was not happy with the food either, but the last time we went to it for dinner a couple of weeks ago everything was perfect. If you have not tried Nandos you should surely give it a try.

Jun 23, 2007

Guest Post – Review : Flavours Al Athaiba

This post has been submitted by Amjad Hayder, a high school student in Muscat, he keeps a blog that he updates regularly at http://amjad248.blogspot.com. Please feel free to share your recipes and reviews with the rest of the Omani Cuisine community by emailing us at contact@omanicuisine.com.

The other day my friends and I went to this new restaurant in Athaiba called Flavours. This is a new international cuisine restaurant in Muscat owned by PFI group. It is located off the the Sultan Qaboos Road next to the Mazda showroom in Al Athaiba.

We went there for lunch at around 2pm. The customers we saw were mainly employees from different nationalities having their lunch break probably coming to Flavours for its special buffet offer for lunch.

The atmosphere at Flavours is great, it is a spacious restaurant with two additional halls, one for families only and the other for ladies only. There is a billiard table and some internet facilities for anyone feeling like hanging out in Flavours.

Flavours serves different types of meat or chicken rice meals and sandwitches. Their menu has a variety of items for desserts such cream caramel and fruits. They also serve Baskin Robin’s ice cream.

The prices at Flavours are very reasonable. Their special rice and curry buffet is served for 2 riyals only! All their other menu items are also of a similar reasonable price as well.


(Photograph by Amjad)

I liked Flavour’s food and prices, but I did not like their waiters. The majority of their staff are Indian, they have one Omani woman and one Omani guy at the counter. I hope that you do not get me wrong, I have nothing against other nationalities, but I got really annoyed by the waiters who did not seem to feel like serving us. We were a group of ten and we stayed for a bit in Flavours, it was quite apparent to us that the waiters were irritated by our stay and one of them stood waiting for us to finish eating to collect the dishes from us.

Disregarding the attitude of the waiters, we had a great time at Flavours: great food, great atmosphere and reasonable prices. If you’re looking for these things, do not hesitate to have your lunch after work/college/school at Flavours Restaurant or even having a dinner there with your family or friends.

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