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It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed an evening out with grown-ups, let alone dinner sans children. Not that that’s a bad thing but sometimes taking a break from parental duties for a short while can be a breath of fresh air.
And so it was on a recent Thursday evening that I found myself heading with two friends to the newly opened OMNY Brasserie at the Hormuz Grand Hotel in Seeb. But before I begin, a disclaimer: this was an invitation to the restaurant’s soft opening and while we didn’t pay for our food, we did pay for our drinks.
OMNY is on the lower ground floor of the hotel and opens out to the pool area where diners can sit outside during the cooler months.
Entering the restaurant, we were greeted warmly and ushered into a modern, inviting dining space and given a choice of seating – indoors or out. And as it’s perfect weather for the great outdoors at the moment, we opted to sit outside – where stylish tables and chairs had been arranged parallel to the infinity pool.
Our waiter for the evening introduced himself to us and brought the menus quite quickly, and also provided small lamps that attached to the folders so we could read everything clearly – a nice touch!
The menu is not overwhelming, providing a good balance between starters, soups and salads, mains, sides, a “raw” bar (think oysters and other seafood) and desserts. But the choices were difficult and after quite a few questions and a trip to the ice-laden “catch of the day” table, we finally ordered.
Only two of us wanted starters: I chose the halloumi soufflé, while one of my friends plumped for the chargrilled baby octopus. For mains, I settled for the corn-fed chicken, one friend for the salt-baked parrot fish with a potato and truffle dauphinoise on the side, while the other ordered the beef ribeye. Orders taken, we were quickly served our drinks and a basket of bread with small pots of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dip in.
We weren’t keeping our eye on the clock but the starters took quite a while to arrive. And when they did, we understood why: it appeared they had been held back to wait for the salt-baked parrot fish, which was ordered as a main course. While the fish was piping hot, our starters suffered – especially the chargrilled baby octopus, which was served with small slices of beef chorizo and shitake mushrooms in a seaweed tea. It was cold, while my halloumi soufflé was just warm. We didn’t quite understand why the main was being served with our starters and later, it was even more glaring as our friend had almost finished eating by the time our two mains were served. Perhaps it was an oversight from the server or the kitchen, but it would be good to get these hiccups ironed out quickly.
My soufflé was cooked very well; slightly buttery and golden, it was delicious but lacked any taste of the sharp, salty halloumi that I was anticipating, while the chorizo in the octopus dish was overcooked and a little tough.
Meanwhile, the salt-baked parrot fish was going down a treat and was so far the star of the night. Cooked to perfection, it had a wonderful flavour of warm Omani spices.
Unfortunately, we had to ask for the dauphinoise potatoes, which were also cold despite the waiter telling us they were still cooking. We should have sent them back, but didn’t want to make a fuss as this was a soft opening. The other two mains came quickly and my corn-fed chicken with sweet ‘n’ sour beets and corn was delicious – tender, tasty and very more-ish, it complemented the beets and corn very well. The ribeye was cooked exactly as ordered – medium – but was still a little chewy, according to my friend.
Soft openings are always a testing ground for new restaurants – and it’s where problems arise that may not have been anticipated by the team, either in the kitchen or out on the floor. Sorting out what is a main and what is a starter, such as what happened with us, is important. And while there is room for improvement, I think there is great potential for OMNY Brasserie.
The staff are friendly and efficient, the dining space warm and inviting, while the quality of the ingredients and the presentation of the food are very high, which means that I’ll be giving it another shot and heading back there in a month or so.
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Good food, friendly service and great potential.