With Ghala Heights going on an overdrive to earn mileage in the capital turf as the next happening place to hang out, Centara Muscat Hotel Oman is beckoning, both residents as well as visitors seeking a slice of its plush 4-star facility. Standing tall and striking in the otherwise staid locality, the Hotel is set to endorse Ghala’s plans of fast becoming the next bustling destination, alongside several new eateries and shopping outlets springing up in the Baushar Wilayat.
Despite Ghala’s endless road intersections and bylanes, the Hotel, occupying a prime spot on way 5003, is easy to locate. It is a mere 15 minutes away from the airport and is in close proximity to several of the landmarks in the area; it shines amidst the construction activity booming in the area.
We made our way to the Hotel with ease, despite the endless traffic on the Azaiba road. Parking was a breeze and we read that as a good omen for our tryst with Turkish fare. As we made our way inside the Hotel, we patted the rumble in our tummies, assuring it of a scrumptious meal with some Turkish delights. And we were not disappointed.
The Akdeniz Restaurant, which adjoins the Hotel lobby to the right, strikes you as a cocoon crafted in a woody ambience. There is warmth that emanates from all the corners of the restaurant, with the metallic touch on one wall adding to the cosy mood. Whirling dervishes occupy the picture frames on the walls and quaint Arabic lamps infuse the air with taste and panache. The glass panel on one end of the restaurant opens to the courtyard, which has been converted into outdoor dining area for guests wanting to tuck into their Turkish fare in the open.
There is a distinct fine dining look about the restaurant, despite its casual ambience. But the former doesn’t reflect on the pricing, and for foodies seeking to appease their palates with culinary masterpieces, this is a big lure. With the open grill dishing out delicious meat and seafood items and the oven, installed alongside, cooking up fresh bread, dining at Akdeniz could prove to be a sensorial experience.
As we sipped freshly squeezed lime juice, our host Alexis Tostain, Executive Assistant Manager and Food & Beverage Manager, pointed out that the Hotel would soon open the rooftop restaurant, in time with the new season, to give foodies in the capital an all new reason to frequent Centara. With Tiptara restaurant offering international fare, beginning with breakfast buffet to a la carte menu, the Hotel is well structured to cater to the diverse nationalities that make up the capital.
At Akdeniz Executive Chef Kadrianta Sinulingga took us on a gastronomic tour of Turkey, beginning with an array of wholesome cold mezzeh. It was preceded by a basket of pita bread, accompanied by fresh vegetables and pickles, which, the chef tell us, is a complementary offering on every table. It is just what you need to work up an appetite for your grilled fare.
Our Middle Eastern mezzeh featured Hummus, Mutabel and Tabbouleh, with vine leaves giving it a distinguishing flavour. We tucked our pita bread into the mezzeh ensemble, along with the popular Pide. For the uninitiated, Pide is a Turkish flatbread baked with toppings in a stone oven. At Akdeniz, the most popular Pide is the one with labneh and honey. It is divine! We tucked into two varieties of Pide; the other was topped with zatar, which made for a savoury starter.
The Pide is a meal by itself; but the chef was keen on cultivating our palates with popular Turkish cuisines to understand the country’s reputation in the global culinary horizon. The next item on our meal agenda was chicken shawarma, which is one item that every resident in the country will easily relate to. Tender chicken pieces, wrapped in the bread and presented along with fries is unlike the shawarmas we have tucked into at the shawarma joints in the capital.
For the mains, the chef put together a feast, no less. There was ‘Half Grilled Chicken’, which is marinated overnight with yoghurt, lemon and garlic, and ‘Mixed Seafood Platter’, comprising of squid, hamour, king fish and jumbo prawns. The grilled chicken is served on a bed of grilled vegetables and bread and it is perfect if you have a large appetite. Seafood lovers are better off with the platter packed with all the nice cuts and pieces.
And then there was the dessert…
As we have always maintained, we can never say no to any dessert. With chef picking on ‘Um Ali Crème Brule’, we went ahead and had a second helping! This dessert, created with puff pastry soaked in milk and flavoured with crème brule, is what magic would taste if it came in food form.