Its vibe is French and its name is associated with love. Little wonder that Kate Ginn finds Anar a fruity little number
There are several nicknames for the pomegranate, including “Jewel of Winter”, “Chinese Apple” and “Love Apple”. It also happens to be the name of the newest culinary arrival at The Wave, Muscat, which came on to my radar after several rave recommendations from friends.
I wasn’t sure what Anar meant until I looked it up on Google. Apparently, it’s the Persian word for pomegranate and a term that has since been borrowed by numerous other languages, including Turkish, Hindi and Urdu.
Now, a pomegranate is known for its juicy flesh and vibrant red colour bursting with a flamboyance that screams “look at me”. In contrast, the interior of Anar is cool and refreshing, all bleached white and neutral shades. It’s like an albino pomegranate.
The fabrics are cotton and linen, the furniture (tables and sofas) is French country house style with a slick, modern twist. It had style, a certain “je ne sais quoi” about it, which, in my book, makes it a welcome change from the ubiquitous chains in Muscat
It was a quiet Friday lunchtime when we visited, with a couple of other customers (you can go for tables or the more casual sofas) but as it opens until 11pm, I imagine it gets much busier later when the temperature cools.
While the owners clearly think big, Anar’s menu is small. Not that my lunch companions and I minded in the least. A humongous menu, in my experience, does not always necessarily mean the food is going to be larger in taste too. Sometimes, it’s far better for the chef to do a small amount of dishes well, rather than grappling with pages and pages.
Still, it doesn’t do to rush whatever the menu size, so we took our time and ordered drinks – fresh lemon and mint and mango for the grown-ups and a strawberry milkshake for little Miss C – while we pondered the options.
Whether to go for one of the all-day breakfast choices or try a sandwich or salad? And what about those delicious-looking waffles I spotted a customer eating as we walked in? Oh woe is me what decisions to make! It all sounded so good that frankly I wanted everything and my stomach could certainly handle it (top tip: always wear loose fitting clothes and preferably stretchy waistbands when doing a taste test). But sadly, it was not to be and a selection had to be made.
Our waiter stood by patiently ready to pounce in a nice unobtrusive way. All the staff, I have to say, are impeccable from their clothes down to their service.
So, the eggs benedict won the order from me, while on the sofa Miss C went for fluffy pancakes and her mum nailed her colours to the halloumi pesto sandwich mast.
The drinks were excellent, freshly made and full of flavour, although the little one said her milkshake was a “bit thick”, which was probably due to the pulp of the real fruit. Anyhow, she gulped it down.
It’s always nice when your dining companions order food that you like too, so everyone can dig into each other’s. As it was, we were all so happy with our own that we gave just cursory glances to other plates. The eggs benedict was cracking (excuse the pun), served on a toasted English muffin with lashings of hollandaise sauce. Now, I like my poached eggs to break when I put my fork in them, sending the yellow centre gushing out in a satisfying stream of gooey goodness, and these didn’t let me down, covering the turkey bacon in a nice river of yolk. I’m getting hungry writing this.
Next to me, the three pancakes were being devoured after an elaborate decoration of butter, whipped cream, strawberry jam and then swirls of maple syrup. “Awesome” was the verdict. The halloumi sandwich, which arrives beautifully presented on a wooden serving block with a green garnish, met with equal praise, if not expressed in quite the same way.
It’s not hard to miss the fact that Anar has a great cake selection – the freshly baked wares are displayed in a glass case in front of the counter to tempt you as you eat your mains. There is everything from macarons and lemon meringue to tarts and mini cupcakes. Oh my, a sweet tooth’s dream.
With a recommendation from staff, I went for a tropical cake concoction with pineapple and coconut, while Miss C played it safe with a crème brûleé (her mum cried off cake saying she had no appetite for sweeties). Miss C, who had never tried her dish before, announced with a lick of the spoon that it was “crunchy and soft”, which is exactly what you want from a crème brulee. She had the better result, I think. My cake was nothing more than OK. A quick cappuccino and it was time to say au revoir to Anar, or rather adieu, as I’ll be back again – very soon. Pomegranates are suddenly my favourite fruit.
Fine fare with a très chic French touch
The Wave, Muscat
Tel: 2418 9300
Timings: 8am-11pm, every day
Lunch for three people with beverages RO24.4