Taste Test: Circle’s Poolside Cafe

31 Mar 2016
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Ravenous after a long drive and walk around Yiti, Felicity Glover finds Circles poolside cafe hits the spot, giving her enough energy to continue exploring the area



It had been a busy morning. With a friend from Abu Dhabi in town wanting to see some of the sights, we had our hearts set on the mountains. But I was also test-driving a car for another story and it was an all-wheel drive rather than a 4×4. Not wanting to take any risks with Lincoln’s latest MKX, we compromised and headed down to Yiti and beyond to do some exploring – by car and on foot. At least, we decided, we’d still be driving through mountains (albeit without the more extreme gradient of Jebel Akhdar to deal with), while there was the added bonus of being on the coast.

Loaded up with plenty of water, but no sustenance, we set off and after a few hours of exploring beaches and picturesque fishing villages, we suddenly realised it was mid-afternoon and we were ravenous. With no F&B options in sight, except for trying our hand at a spot of fishing, the only nearby place I could think of was one of the cafes at the Shangri-la Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. 

It didn’t take much to convince the two Cs – Charlie, our friend, and Cia, my daughter – that this was the best option available. It also helped that they looked like they could eat the leg off a table. Yep, they said they were that hungry!

We weren’t looking for anything fancy – just something that was tasty, nutritious and filling, so opted for Circles, the hotel’s poolside café.

It seemed we weren’t the only ones having a late lunch – Circles was buzzing with diners, all of whom where tucking into the likes of burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, satays and salads.

We were quickly seated near the service area, but found this was too noisy thanks to the busy whir of a few overworked blenders as diners ordered a range of smoothies and mocktails. Our request to move to the other side of the café, by the pool, was quickly solved by the helpful wait staff.

Cheeseburger at Circles Poolside Cafe

Cheeseburger at Circles Poolside Cafe

Seated at our new table, we quickly ordered – a well-done cheeseburger for Miss Cia, a quattro stagioni pizza for Charlie and the mezzeh combo for me. The adults stuck to sparkling water, while Cia went for the banana cinnamon smoothie.

Our meal arrived fairly quickly – and it was easy to see that Cia would struggle to eat the massive cheeseburger, which she had to tackle with a knife and fork. It came with a side of French fries, coleslaw and a small salad. The meat was juicy despite being well done, while it had a slight smoky flavour, making us wonder if it was flame grilled.

Charlie gave the thumbs up to the pizza, which was topped with tomato, mozzarella, turkey ham, artichokes, peppers, olives and mushrooms. He said it had a thin, crispy base (his favourite) and that the star ingredient was the turkey ham, followed closely by the olives.

Mezzeh Combo at Circles Poolside Cafe

Mezzeh Combo at Circles Poolside Cafe

My mezzeh combo was light and delicious. The hummus was creamy and smooth and paired perfectly with the fresh, tangy tabbouleh, while the deep, smoky babaganoush was tempered by the sweet pop of pomegranate seeds and crunch of diced red and green peppers. The pickled vegetables were a more-ish selection of salty and vinegary bite-size morsels that complemented the whole dish.

Cia waved the white flag three quarters into the burger, stating that she needed to leave room for the fries and her smoothie, which she declared was delicious. Charlie polished off the pizza in no time and even added his own topping to the last slice of the turkey ham portion – a dollop of Cia’s forgotten coleslaw. I’m not quite sure about that choice, but each to their own, as they say.

There was a small dessert menu – fruit kebabs, a trio of sorbets, what appeared to be a decadent chocolate walnut brownie and a banana split. But we’d had our fill and were keen to get back to exploring, this time around Muttrah and the Corniche.

All in all, it was a great lunch. It was just a shame we couldn’t relax on the deckchairs afterwards!

Info Box

Circles Poolside Cafe
Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa
Opening Hours: Daily 10am-7pm
Lunch and drinks for three: RO34.1

Verdict :
8 / 10 Service
7 / 10 Food
8 / 10 Ambience

A relaxing spot that serves up tasty food and good-sized portions

Y Magazine reviews anonymously and pays for its meals

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