Oasis by the Sea is a happening little hotspot filled with al fresco culinary delights, Matt Blackwell samples Just Grilled
It was a Saturday afternoon and I was hungry. No, in fact, I was ravenous and in dire need of sustenance.
I’d been asked to play chauffeur by my friend who finished work at 2pm and after picking him up, we decided to wander over to explore the selection of restaurants and cafés in Oasis by the Sea in Shatti Al Qurum and find one suitable for a spot of late lunch.
The yellow-and-red branding of Just Grilled caught my eye and I was drawn in by the possibility of al fresco dining. The small selection of outdoor tables were all covered with crisp white tablecloths and shaded by canvas umbrellas, which served to elevate the café above its immediate neighbours in terms of first impressions.
While the aesthetics were that of a restaurant, peering through the door I could see a menu board above the counter, which gave Just Grilled more of a café-type feel and I was unsure whether it was table service or not to begin with.
Walking inside and looking slightly lost, we were warmly greeted by the manager who asked whether we wanted to eat in or take away, before guiding us to a table and handing out a couple of menus.
Perusing the menu, it would be difficult to pin the cuisine down to a certain region or style, with Just Grilled offering a selection of breakfast choices from muesli and yoghurt to a full fry-up, in addition to soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, a healthy amount of vegetarian options and a selection of grilled items. It really is a menu that has something to cater for all tastes.
Due to my aforementioned level of hunger, we settled on the mix grill platter, which is big enough for two to share, with a side order of spring rolls for good measure. I think mixed grills are a good way to gauge the quality of any eatery as they offer a little bit of everything. Ours, for instance, featured grilled fish, chicken skewers, lamb kafta, grilled steak, mashed potato, steak fries, Arabic bread and salad.
There were a few other customers dotted at different tables, but I wouldn’t go as far to say the place was busy. It came as somewhat of a surprise then that the food took as long as it did to arrive. Even our drinks order took quite some time. In the restaurant’s defence, my overwhelming hunger could perhaps have led to some slight impatience and there was a large amount of food to prepare. Saying that, though, I did see another diner enquire as to where his order was.
When our platter finally did arrive, it was a feast worthy of royalty.
The dressed salad gave the dish a nice pop of colour, but the meat was the undoubted star of this show. I found the steak to be slightly overdone and a little chewy, but the chargrilled taste was satisfying. The lamb kafta was fantastic and almost fell apart when you cut it, proving it was handmade as opposed to bought in. The grilled fish came in breadcrumbs, which could’ve been crispier, but the fish beneath was white, soft and flaky, just as it should be. There were two different types of chicken skewers and my favourite was the satay, which came with a peanut sauce. The fries were thick, hand cut and perfectly crispy and the chive-infused mashed potato was soft and fluffy. The inclusion of Arabic bread, however, seemed one carbohydrate too many and was largely surplus to requirement.
The five accompanying spring rolls were of a generous size and tasted great when combined with the sweet chilli dip. As with the breaded fish, they could’ve been slightly crispier, but this didn’t detract from the meal on the whole.
The variety of desserts was fairly limited when compared with the wide array of options for starters and mains. I flirted with the idea of ordering the chocolate fondue (in the interests of investigative journalism, of course), but ultimately the mixed grill had vanquished my appetite and I was defeated.
The bill came to just over RO17, RO11.5 of which was the mixed grill and while there was a large amount of quality food, I can’t help but think that it was a tad pricey for lunch. Of course, there are plenty of other dishes to choose from and I would happily return to Just Grilled in a heartbeat.
Tasty food, just needs to be quicker
Oasis by the Sea, Shatti Al Qurum
Tel: +968 2460 1290
Opening Times: 7am-12am daily
Lunch for two plus drinks: RO17.4