Nestled within elegantly curved Omani arches featuring dangling crystal chandeliers from vaulted ceilings and handsomely-set white tables is The Restaurant at The Chedi. Known as one of the best places to dine in Muscat, soft sounds from the live piano are heard as soon as one enters the venue prepping guests for a sophisticated and otherworldly experience.
When I met my guest for dinner, an Egyptian by origin but one who has lived in Muscat on and off for years throughout his life, he immediately told me that The Restaurant was considered to be one of the most popular places to dine in Muscat among locals and expats alike. Since the hotel’s opening in 2002, apart from a brief period of reconstruction in 2007 when the Gonu Cyclone flooded the hotel, he told me, this majestic restaurant boasting a refined and understated elegance has been the place to be.
Before being seated we walked passed the restaurant’s four open kitchens where we could see chefs preparing a variety of differcuisines including Western, Middle Eastern and Indian fare. I admired as chefs prepared chicken in a large tandoori oven – the visibility of such culinary preparations added entertainment and character to the venue. We briefly walked past the hotel’s Pastry Shop conveniently located at a corner of the restaurant so guests can order the sweets of their preference – beautifully colored macaroons were daintily displayed along with chocolate eclairs and other fancy dessert creations – so enticing that feared my anticipation for my meal would be overpowered by their mere presence. Certainly, these would serve as my dessert after dinner.
We observed also an outdoor patio to use for when the weather was cooler and also eight stunning private dining rooms with lounge areas – a worthwhile venue for a romantic evening, special occasion or business dinner. The dining area was quite full given that it was August – a time when most residents and locals of the Gulf leave the region for cooler weather and for a summer holiday. Happy vacationers and honeymooners were seated relishing in the regal ambiance. A nice warm glow from the chandeliers radiated amidst the tables with seated guests and I immediately had the impression that I was in between two worlds – one which accentuated by the welcoming traditional Omani culture and another which was more Contemporary and cosmopolitan thus tying bridging the worlds of East and West.
For starters, we chose a Goat Cheese and Organic Beetroot Salad with marinated beetroot, salad leaves and balsamic dressing. The warm and creamy texture of the goat cheese juxtaposed nicely with the sharp and slightly bitter beetroot – the dish was fresh and summery. We also tasted the Artichoke Salad with asparagus, semi-dried tomatoes, salad leaves and parmesan crisp – yet again another dish perfect for the hot weather – the artichoke heart was plentiful, juicy and bursting with flavor. Lastly, we also indulged in the Lobster Salad with chick peas, fried crackers, avocado and curried orange yoghurt dressing. While certainly richer than our previous two starters, this lobster dish was quite unusual – the curried orange yoghurt dressing provided a spicy note to the lobster and avocado which, whose already rich and flavorful consistency were yet further accentuated. Lastly, we were recommended the Samba be Tongkol – a Balinese tuna salad featuring seared fresh tuna, lime, lemongrass and shrimp paste – immediately a favorite, this dish goes to show the extent of the restaurant’s international flair and penchant for Far Eastern tastes.
Already satisfied from the starters, which we were perfectly sized – not too big nor too small, the main course awaited us. A Roasted Hammour Fillet came with fried cauliflower, tahini sauce and baba ghanoush – a typically Arabic dish made of eggplant. Oman is renowned for its fish – a fact which was certainly experienced with this dish. The hammour was cooked just right – moist, smooth and chewy and the sauce gave it a slightly spicy note reminding us of our whereabouts as well as Oman’s history of trade with the countries of the Far East. We also indulged in a Braised Tiger Prawn with tomato and chickpea moussaka with coriander and steamed rice – once again richly succulent and flavorful. Lastly, the Gank Mang Kon – Omani lobster with red curry paste, coconut and bamboo shoot was deliciously rich, pungent and fresh – clearly a signature of the restaurant and the area.
And lastly, came our dessert. My friend explained to me that people from Muscat would often come to purchase the fresh pastries here for special gatherings and occasions. As it was evening time and the Pastry Chef was out of station but still we were able to admire the beautifully created cakes. I chose a macaroon laden with raspberries and cream and two small scoops of home-made ice cream. The macaroons were chewy and crunchy at once reminding of days spent in Paris when I’d delight in the perfection of a fresh macaroon from Pierre Herme or La Duree – a taste which was divine as were those which I tasted this evening, Our server explained that an Emirati man had come in that very same day and purchased all of the macaroons on display!
A majestic treat, The Restaurant at The Chedi is refined and elegant and so comfortable that it is strangely familiar – a sure bet for a wonderful meal.
The Restaurant at The Chedi, Muscat, Oman +968 24524400
Dessert: Macaroons with raspberry and some ice cream