After intending to visit for months, Matt Blackwell finally makes it to dinner at the Grand Fish Market, but finds the menu can be hit and miss
A friend of mine recommended the Grand Fish Market to me towards the end of last year. I took the suggestion on board, but with work and life taking precedence, I never found the time to act on it.
Located close to City Centre Muscat and easily visible from the highway, I would often glance across and see the restaurant as I drove to the Y office in Seeb in the morning. Each day I would resolve to sample it, only to forget come home time. Entering 2015 with the best of intentions, I finally decided to take the plunge and walked through the doors of the Grand Fish Market early last Saturday evening.
The steps that lead up to the restaurant brought us to a red carpet and the smartly dressed waiter who opened the door and welcomed us in only served to enhance this semi-VIP feel. A quick scan of the tables revealed the reason that the staff had time for such attentive details – my friend Erwin and I were the only customers. It was early though – just after 6pm.
The décor is light, spacious and airy. An aquarium fish tank, soft blue tint to the lighting and decorations such as a ship’s wheel, give it a fittingly nautical theme and creates a pleasant atmosphere in which to scan the menu.
The starters available lacked in variety slightly, but luckily we were both taken with the idea of soup. Erwin opted for the seafood soup, which included shrimp and squid, and came served with a flamboyantly decorative crab’s leg hanging over the side. The creamy soup was flavoursome, with distinct hints of the seafood coming through, although we both felt that the addition of the crab leg on the side was unnecessary and only really served to get in the way. I on the other hand, had opted for the shrimp soup, which when it arrived resembled and tasted more like a lightly spiced oxtail soup. With each mouthful, I was struggling to find the link to shrimp until one fateful journey into the bowl brought my spoon into contact with something solid. It was shrimp! It was somewhat a relief to finally find a shrimp in the rather large bowl of so-called shrimp soup.
Moving on to the next course, the mixed grill (shish taouk, chicken kebab, meat kebab, meat tikka and lamb chops) looked appetising from the high resolution photo in the menu but in the end – deciding it might be quite remiss to visit a fish restaurant and neglect to try the fish – Eriwn chose the grilled hamour fillet with lemon sauce while I settled on the fish fillet casserole with chili sauce. Choice is once thing that the menu at the Grand Fish Market offers in abundance, with everything on offer from grilled squid fajitas to stuffed lobster.
When each plate had arrived we decided to place them in the middle and share. The two fillets that made up Eriwn’s selection were topped with finely diced peppers, onion and grilled mozzarella. But the lemon element was lacking. Despite arriving nothing like the menu had lead us to believe, the food was pretty good, with the hamour white and flaky, as it should be, although slightly salty to taste.
It was my selection that was to prove the star of the show. Selected from the tagine section of the menu, my casserole didn’t look especially impressive when it arrived on the table, but tasted great. The hamour was once again white and flaky and full of flavour. The chunky red sauce that made up the casserole was infused with complementing spices that generated a wonderful overall taste, although personally I would have liked a little more chili. However, this was rectified with a few generous dollops of the hot sauce that stood next to the salt and pepper. The casserole was also served with some flat bread to mop up the remaining sauce.
Not particularly interested by the choice of either fruit or mixed Middle Eastern sweets for dessert, we decided to just order the bill. While several tables had filtered in since we arrived – a healthy mix of Omanis and Filipino and Indian expats – the entire experience, from ordering the food to ordering the bill was all over so quickly. Half an hour to be exact. It felt a little rushed – granted we were the only people in there to cook for at the start, so no surprises things arrived quickly, but we still felt hurried.
The Grand Fish Market offers locally sourced fresh seafood that the chefs use to create satisfying dishes. Just don’t take the menu at face value and don’t expect to make a long evening of it as the service can be alarmingly fast.
Misleading menu, but tasty nonetheless
Grand Fish Market
Al Mawaleh (south), before City Centre Muscat
Tel: 9519 9995
Opening times: 12pm–12am daily
Dinner for two plus drinks: RO17.5