Browsing articles in "Shatti Al Qurum"
Sep 9, 2007

Review: Mumtaz Mahal – Shatti Al Qurum

Mumtaz Mahal is most probably the finest Indian restaurant in town, it is located on the hill behind the Qurum Natural Park and has been in service since the 80s. It is loved madly by the Oman Today magazine as they gave it the award for the best Indian restaurant four times in the five years they’ve been doing their awards.

A review about Mumtaz Mahal is not complete without talking about the location of the restaurant and the view, especially at night when all the blinders that cover the glass walls are lifted to show the view of the road lights and the movement of the cars from above to make a charming sight of the busy life of modern Muscat.

Mumtaz is very spacious with loads and loads of seats, there are also a couple of tables outside the main hall that people sit at when the weather is good. A live band is supposed to perform in the main hall of the restaurant on some days, but I’ve been to the restaurant twice, once on a weekend and another on a week day, and I did not see this band.

The place can easily be fully occupied on any day of the week, when we got there at 7 .30pm yesterday there was barely anybody at the restaurant, but by the time we left around 9.30pm the place was full. It is recommended to book a table in advance instead of showing up expecting to be seated right away. The crowd at Mumtaz seemed to be older than those at the places we previously reviewed with a lot of expatriate families dinning in.

The staff of Mumtaz were very friendly and talkative, at the two times I’ve been to it they helped us with the menu, chatted about India (as if we’ve never had Indian food before?) and even talked about random stuff like cameras and photography. They food did not take a lot of time to get to our table, they literally put the food on our plates and helped us share the starters, we were very impressed.

The menu of Mumtaz is pretty extensive, in addition to their starters they also serve soups, dry tandoor grilled dishes and curry. There are vegetarian stuff in all sections of the menu and a lot of fish and lobster main courses as well. Spicy dishes are labeled with a small drawing of a chili to warn those who cannot handle spicy food.

For the starters we had the three non-vegeterian items they had on their menu, namely Machli Masaledar, these are deep friend fish fingers cooked with spices (the one at the bottom of the place in the image above), Chennai Murg, these are spicy deep friend chicken fillets (on the right side of the plate in the image above) and Murg Methi Kebab, some tandoor flavoured chicken kebabs cooked with some sort of leaves. I liked the chicken fingers more than anything else, the way they were cooked and the way they tasted made it irresistible. The fish fingers came second and the kebabs came third. They all had a hint of spiciness which I did not think was overly hot.

For the main course we had three different chicken dishes, Murg Angaarey – extra spicy tender chicken pieces cooked with garlic, Balti Murg – chicken cooked in traditional North Indian sauce, Chennai Murg Masala – a spicy dish of dry chicken cubes with coconut, curry leaves and black pepper. We also had a bowl of Ghosht Shahi Khorma -a meat dish cooked in gravy sauce with dry fruits and nuts. We ate those with chicken biryani rice and some garlic nan bread.

The food we had was very good, a couple of dishes we had were extra spicy and I would not recommend them for the weak-hearted. For a first timer I would recommend Balti Murg with plain rice or chicken biryani rice – you can’t go wrong with the basics!

We checked their dessert menu, they had many variations of Indian sweets with cheese, which we did not try and had instead their ‘home-made’ ice creams, it tasted very *unique* and had some saffron in it.

Mumtaz is obviously more expensive than the majority of Indian restaurants in town, the starters cost about RO 1.5 to RO 2 each, while vegeterian, chicken, and meat main courses cost RO 2.5 to RO 4, and sea food dishes cost RO 5 to RO 8.

Mumtaz is also a licensed restaurant, we were probably the only table that did not order any alcohol, you see bottles of wine coming and going all the time. A guy on a table next to us ordered some sort of pinched coffee which was made live right next to him.

We thought that the experience at Mumtaz was amazing, we had a great time, the food was delicious and the service was very good.

Aug 5, 2007

Review: D’Arcy’s Kitchen – Jawharat Al Shatti

I apologise for not making an update last week, I do have several reviews in the pipelines with photographs and menus, but I got stuck thinking of what to write in my review of Darcy’s Kitchen. My first proper dine in visit was two weeks ago, I had to go to again a last week to collect enough material for my review.

For those that do not know the place, Darcy’s Kitchen is a cafe in Jawharat Al Shatti in Shatti Al Qurum. Though the place is considered by many as a breakfast cafe, it serves a lot of proper meal courses all day long. It differs from the majority of cafes and restaurants here with its laid back casual atmosphere. It has a distinct theme in its table design and colours, and it has a cute looking tabletop paper with a funky drawing of Omani customers.

There are loads of seats at Darcy’s, but the place seems to be constantly busy during all times of the day. I am not sure if there is a non-smoking section in the restaurant, we sat in the lobby of the mall where people were smoking, but we were not disturbed by the smoke, though it was noticeable. Space-wise the place is a bit crowded, I thought that tables were a bit too close to each other and that there wasn’t much personal space left. I guess that is why this is supposed to be more of a cafe and less of a restaurant.

I thought that the staff of Darcy’s were very friendly and talkative, we were served by Emy (pictured above). She remembered us from our first visit, helped us choose our meals and joked with us. (She thinks I’m a photographer).

The restaurant seems to be mostly known for its breakfast meals, which I did not try, but I know that these includes French toast, pancakes, several egg meals, and an English breakfast. The place also serves various soups, salads, burgers, pita bread sandwiches, roll-up sandwiches, pasta dishes, and grilled food dishes.

In my first visit, we had for the starter a plate of Fried Mozzarella Cheese (pictured above) that came a tomato dip which you could optionally add jalapeno to – a piece of information I did not know at the time. Yet regardless, I thought that it was really very good.

The starter we had in our second visit was the Chicken Fingers, those were long thick boneless chicken fingers that come with mashed potato, chunky chips, or french fries and a really good sauce that I cannot remember what it was made of, probably a mixture of mayo and some salad dressing. The quantity was pretty a lot and could easily be considered as a main course for one person. I thought that both starters were great, but if I had to pick between the two I would go for the Fried Mozzarella Cheese because it was a bit different from we have elsewhere.

The first main course I had was the Chicken BBQ Lamisso, a dish of chunky marinated chicken pieces served with a sauce made up of peanut butter, tomato, and onion. I thought that it was really good, the chicken was very well cooked and the sauce was a great addition to it. Acting like a silly kid, I did not touch the cooked vegetables that came with the meal only because I am not a great fan of cooked vegetables.

My friend had some California Friend Chicken – an item from the additional menu of new food. The dish looked like something from KFC, but my friend says that he liked the crunchiness of the chicken skin and the sour taste of the garlic mayo dip.

The main course I had on my second visit to Darcy’s Kitchen was the Chicken Melt Sandwich, a sandwich made of shredded chicken pieces with mayo. You can select to have white or brown bread for your sandwich. I did not think that the sandwich was very memorable, not that it tasted bad or anything, but at the same time I did not think that there was anything special about it.

My friend had his favourite cold Club Sandwich, he asked me to try some of his, but I was already really full. It looks like Club Sandwiches are his favourite and he recommends it strongly.

The average price of a snack (Darcy’s label for starters) is from RO 1 to RO 2.5, a main course costs around RO 2 to Ro 5 on average, drinks cost from RO0.3 (Soda) to RO1.5.

I really liked Darcy’s Kitchen even though place is a bit noise and can get crowded, however, their service is great , their food is good. I think that we need more of these places in town.

Jul 6, 2007

Review: Santino’s – Jawharat Al Shatti

Santino’s Bistro Italiano is an Italian restaurant located in Jawharat Al Shatti mall in Shatti Al Qurum. This is not a fast food take away outlet like the one found in the Food Court of City Centre (which I’ve never tried), but a dine-in restaurant. Santino’s is one my personal favourites in town, love their food, the staff are all Asian and are generally very friendly, but the place is relatively small and could get quite packed at peak hours, also there isn’t a toilet in the restaurant.

During my first visits to Santino’s we always had a problem with the starters, while they are good, they’re as big in quantity as some main courses in other places. The waiter’s were not very helpful in this department as we were never advised on how much we should order. They have a couple of really good calamari starters, my favourite is the Calamari Piccosi, a spicy calamari and beans dish served with two garlic breads. We share this among two. There are loads of different starters, unfortunately I did not take a copy of the menu and I cannot recall the Italian names of the dishes.

There are five different main course types in Santino’s: salads, rice meals, sandwiches, pizzas and pasta dishes. I never tried the salads or the rice meals, so I cannot tell you much about these two. Sandwiches at Santinos are served in very thick pizza-like bread, along with potato wedges and salad. You can select up to four fillings for your sandwich from a collection of 15 or so fillings. I only had this once long time ago and though it tasted good, but it was very messy and quite hard to eat because of the hard bread.

Pizzas at Santino’s are what I usually order, there are again a variety of beef, chicken, sea food, and vegetarian pizzas made on a thin base, the ones I remember having are Mia (chicken, pepper and mushrooms – I think), Margherita (cheese and tomato sauce), and Santino’s Special (beef, pepperoni, chicken, pepper, and loads of other stuff). All of which I recommend. Santino’s Pizza’s come in a standard size and a larger one to share among a group.

I recently tried having pasta at Santino’s and had a Penne Santino’s (pictured above), a rich chicken pasta with olives, red pepper, and spinach – which was good, but not as memorable as the other meals I had here. I am generally not a pasta person, that might explain. One of my friends had a Tagliatella Alfredo (pictured below), which he thought was good.

As usual, nobody experimented with their drinks and had only Mountain Dew, that is a habit I think we should stop. I previously tried their chocolate cake which was more like a chocolate mousse rather than a cake, but which we still enjoyed nonetheless.

Starters are Santino’s cost around RO 2, a main course about RO 3. A dinner for three (2 starters, 3 main courses, and 3 drinks) cost us around RO 15 – taxes included.

Santino’s is one of the of nicer little places in town, great food and good service. Anybody going there has to try to the Calamari Picossi!

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