The Holiday Inn hotel in Seeb may not spring immediately to mind as a dining destination, but don’t let any preconceptions put you off, says Adam Hurrell
Holiday Inn is a global brand. The last time I sampled its hospitality I was at Heathrow Airport in the UK and I have also stayed at one in Paris. Like all multinational brands, they are often carbon copies of one another, so I wasn’t expecting an awful lot from the one here in Seeb. As a budget brand of utility hotels, Holiday Inn fulfills a vital role for frequent travellers but historically, the quality of food served at its in-house restaurants has done little to inspire me.
However, upon I walking through the doors of the Seeb hotel I was struck with the distinct feeling of premium. The fixtures, fittings and clean, modern design all spoke of quality. There were no gaudy colours, tired carpets or worn brass anywhere to be seen. Things were looking good.
The Omede Restaurant is on the lower ground floor and has a terrace area that is by the hotel’s pool. The lighting inside was a little harsh and as it was a pleasantly cool January evening, we decided to sit outside. Saturday night at the Omede is obviously a quiet one, as we were almost the only people there. The atmosphere was calm and peaceful, although on the opposite side of the pool to our table was the hotel gym, and watching people running on a treadmill as we sat down for an indulgent meal did make us feel rather guilty. I prefer to think I’m just dedicated to my work.
Menus were brought out, drinks were ordered and everything felt very refined thanks to the attentive, friendly and smartly dressed staff. Staff appearance can often be overlooked, but when they are poorly turned out, it makes you wonder where else the restaurant may be cutting corners.
We debated whether it would be best to go for the buffet or choose something from the à la carte menu and after a quick scan of the options, we voted unanimously in favour of the menu. We shared a Caesar salad to start and opted for pan-fried salmon and fish and chips, while I asked for the Lebanese mixed grill.
From the outset, the standard of food was impressive. The salad was delicious and I enjoyed my mixed grill. The salmon was not only an extremely generous portion, but also perfectly cooked with a pleasingly crispy skin and served on a bed of creamy mashed potato. The fish and chips were also going down a treat. Again, the size of the portion was generous and the hamour fillet was coated in a light, crisp, golden batter that any English seaside restaurant would be proud of. The meat in my mixed grill was equally excellent, the chops being a particular highlight. My chips were some of the best I have had in Oman and the small salad and flatbread that came with it were a welcome addition. For pudding, I chose the refreshing mixed ice cream, while my friend had the warm walnut pudding, which was also enjoyed.
The food, service and setting (with the exception of a few jets taking off over our heads), were all excellent at the Omede. However, it became apparent why it may have had so few customers when the bill came. Now when you eat in a hotel, you expect to pay hotel prices, but when a coke costs RO1.4 and tax is at 17 per cent, you begin to feel like you’re being overcharged. The Omede is still waiting for its drinks licence to be approved, which was no problem, but it does seem somewhat unnecessary to be quite so overpriced.
Overall, we had a lovely meal and I would certainly go back, but an otherwise good experience was tainted slightly by the inflated drinks prices and tax rate.
8 / 10 Service
8 / 10 Food
9 / 10 Ambience
Excellent apart from the tax rate
Holiday Inn, Seeb
Tel: +968 2208 0555
Opening hours: Open daily with 24-hour room service to hotel guests
Dinner and drinks for three (including taxes): RO46
Y Magazine reviews anonymously and pays for its meals