Jun 27, 2007

Review: Meknes Restaurant – Al Khuwair

Meknes (proper Arabic pronunciation is Mik’naas) is a Moroccan cuisine restaurant located in Al Khuwair, it is two blocks after the Oman Mobile headquarters if you are coming from Muscat – its flashy sign cannot be missed.

Meknes is a proper restaurant suitable for business dinners and special events. It’s very well decorated and looks quite fancy. The place is bigger than what it looks from the outside as the upper floor spans across multiple units. The restaurant has a semi-separate sheesha joint on its other side, we did not see any smoke or smell any sheesha during our stay, but I do not know if that was because the sheesha place was well isolated or because they had no customers in it at that time. There isn’t a non-smoking section in the restaurant, but the place is very spacious and did not have many actual customers when we were there, so again, we do know how it would have looked like in a busy/bad day. There are a couple of cabinet-like rooms in which people could dine in if nobody else was already in there.

Meknes’s menu has loads and loads of funny names of Moroccan food, we were given the Arabic language menu and really couldn’t understand much of it. We asked the waiter to give us the skinny on what this menu says, for starters, there were about four types of salads, Moroccan soup (Hareera), a samosa mix, and a whole set of weird sweet starters (chicken and honey wrapped up in a Qatayif like dish?) – we did not feel very adventurous so we did not try that. I had a hareera soup that came with a thick layered flat bread (we call it Mardhoof bread at home), and it was awesome. We also tried their samosas, which really took some time to come, my friend liked a lot and thought that it was well worth the wait. It came boiling hot when it finally did, it nearly burned my tongue – I can’t deny that it was quite good, but not as memorable as the soup. (Which I badly wanted to have as I loved it the first time I tried the restaurant)

For main courses, Meknes had mixed grills, fish grilled on coal, cuscus with vegs and chicken, cuscus with vegs and meat, chicken with olives and lemon, chicken with nuts, and about 15 other dishes with funny names that made no sense to us (eg. بسطيلة – بايلا – طاجين – رفيسة). I had chicken with olives and lemon (image below) which came with three huge buns of sweet spongy bread. I do not know how to eat with that sort of bread, I tried tearing crumbs of the bread and eating the chicken with it, it was hard and I really couldn’t taste the flavour of the chicken because of the sweet bread. I eventually gave up and started using the cutlery to eat the chicken with the sauce and managed to actually enjoy the meal, the chicken was very tasteful and very well cooked. I enjoyed it, it was good, but as I person who likes spicy food, I did not think that it was mind blowing.

My friend had cuscus with vegetables and chicken, he thought it was very good. We thought that the quantity of the food was a lot for a single person, especially if you are going to have a three course meal.

Meknes also offers fresh juices, soft drinks, special Moroccan tea, and a coffee. They have a weird selection of desserts and sidelines that we did not try. Actually, we were very boring and only had the Omani survival drink, Mountain Dew.

Starters in Meknes cost from RO 0.8 to RO 1.5, meal courses cost RO 2.5 to Ro 3.5, there are special discounts for ordering larger dish for two or more people, drinks cost about RO 1 and desserts about the same. We paid around RO 12 for our meal.

The restaurant is currently running a special Business Lunch where you can have a three course meal for RO 3.250 (hareera soup, main course, and a dessert). You can call 2447 5497 for more information. (I was NOT paid to write this!)

A funny thing that happened was that they were shooting an Omani TV series in Meknes on the day that were there, it was hilarious, Omani super star Fakhriya Khamis was there, so we thought we’ll play paparazzi and take some photos, of course it is not as exciting as shooting Beyonce on a nudist beach.. or well, it actually could be on Omani standards.

  • MMK080

    OMG! No way!! You saw the one and only superstar, Fakhriya Khamis!? The thought that someone I personally know was in the same building as Fakhriya… I think I am going to faint.

    P.S. Did she play the mother in the fantastic Ajmal perfume commercial?
    If not, then I’ve honestly never seen (or heard of) her before in my entire life.

  • Blue Chi

    Unfortunately she is not one of the talented Omani actresses in the Ajmal commercial. Fakhriya was all over khaleeji tv series last Ramadhan, but I doubt you watched any of them.

  • Meticulousness

    She ruins my appetite!

  • abdesamad

    I am sure and certain that meknes restaurant is one of the most famous restaurant on the national level, its location is very importante, decorations from Morocco gives charming landscapes mixing the traditional with modernty, quality of service of Moroccans working at the restaurant is unique, I like this restaurant, I spent unforgettable moments in this restaurant.
    I wish you success. abdessamad.

  • abdesamad

    I am sure and certain that meknes restaurant is one of the most famous restaurant on the national level, its location is very importante, decorations from Morocco gives charming landscapes mixing the traditional with modernty, quality of service of Moroccans working at the restaurant is unique, I like this restaurant, I spent unforgettable moments in this restaurant.
    I wish you success. abdessamad.

  • Rachid

    Walking through the door entering into a dark what looked like closed down low end pattisserie, I should have walked back out, but my inquisitive nature led me up some stairs to discover a rather drab looking dining area. I had come to try out the Iftaar Buffet. Ok maybe my review is biased based on the fact that I used to live in Morocco but I think there are certain things any diner would expect. Just as there was no one to greet me on the lower level, once in the dining area I found no staff for at least 5 minutes. Then a Moroccan waiter appeared but apparently I was invisible and completely ignored! I then headed further into the dining area where I found a kiosk. A Moroccan waitress greeted my rather bluntly as though not expecting me and certainly not wainting to serve anyone. I was pointed to a table to sit down! I know Moroccan service isnt thebest on earth but here they are not exactly promoting Moroccan hospitality which is way beyond what I was experiencing here! The food, well what can be said. Yes somehow it was Moroccan to the many locals who seemed to be enjoying it. However, if you have experienced Moroccan food in Morocco or Europe you will not find this even remotely near the quality, ingredients, textures and tastes you are used to. I sample very small amounts of some dishes before giving up, paying the bill and walking out as quickly as possible. If you looking for quality Moroccan food, cross this place off your list. If you are a complete novice to Moroccan cuisine, try it out, then please head for somewhere far more decent to appreciate what Moroccan cuisine is all about.

  • Dubaip67

    Love all the reviews..checkout yadig.com for more reviews on muscat.