Felicity Glover heads to a new Lebanese-Italian eatery as her quest for the perfect falafel sandwich continues
Is it just me or is Al Mouj Street becoming something of a dining hotspot in the capital? There have been several new restaurants that have opened their doors there over the past six to eight months, such as Al Mukhtar and even a new branch of Golden Spoon taking up a spot next to stalwart Italiano.
Perhaps it has something to do with the Wanasa Hotel Apartments and other nearby residential developments that have caught the eyes of canny restaurateurs. That said, it also helps that Al Mouj Muscat is just a few minutes’ drive away. Whatever the reason, it’s a boon for local residents looking for a little diversity and some interesting cuisine choices without having to drive too far.
And so it was that I found myself walking into On The Wood with a group of friends, known as the “P Family”, on a recent hot Saturday afternoon. It’s a cool, relaxed space with a café-style feel but I have to admit I was a little surprised: the place was buzzing despite only opening a couple of weeks ago.
Fortunately, our group of six bagged the last two tables and a friendly waiter put them together for us. Another waiter gave us the menus and welcomed us to the restaurant, telling us that On The Wood prided itself on its fresh, natural ingredients that had been sourced from Lebanon.
Knowledgeable and friendly, the waiter also had some recommendations, particularly the chicken taco pizza – a concoction of marinated chicken strips nestling on a thin, crispy pizza base and smothered in tortilla chips, cheese, a “joy” sauce and avocado sauce. As odd as it sounds, he assured us it was delicious.
Our orders quickly taken, it was just a few minutes before the food started to arrive – yes, they really were that fast!
First up was my daughter Cia, who appeared to have eyes bigger than her stomach. She ordered the cheese manakish with regular flour (you could also opt for brown or multi-cereal) and a minced chicken tawouk in dough. Cia’s a huge fan of manakish and has been struggling to find a decent one that compares to her all-time favourite from Lebanese Garden in Abu Dhabi. This one was close, she said, but not quite there.
Her tawouk was wrapped in a thin, almost crunchy pastry and was stuffed with minced chicken, French fries, pickles and a garlic sauce. A little on the dry side, the flavours came alive when it was dipped in hummus.
Meanwhile, Mr P’s cheesy roast beef in dough was declared a winner, with the beef tender and juicy. Smothered in a lemon mustard sauce and a steak sauce, it’s safe to say that the cheesy roast beef was the star of the show.
But Mrs P lucked out again, this time with her chilli kebab, which she thought would be beef but instead tasted like lamb, which she’s not a fan of. However, the jalapeños added a nice zing, helped along by the Mexican sauce.
Next up was what Miss Pre-teen opted for, the “margeritta” pizza. Quickly devoured, this was also given the thumbs up although it didn’t look half as good as the pizza that was sitting on a neighbouring table.
Unfortunately, my quest to find the perfect falafel sandwich continues. I had high hopes for the classic baked falafel sandwich but it was quite dry. The flavour was there, and the mint was a nice touch with the tomato lettuce, turnip pickles and tahini sauce.
Luckily, I also ordered a classic hummus, which saved the day, and the sandwich, by obliterating the dryness and adding a much-needed earthy punch to the dish.
We weren’t in the mood for dessert but some of the options looked interesting, such as the kunafa and latayef. Other choices included a chocolate cake, cheesecake and the chocoba – chocolate Nutella with banana.
All in all, it was a good experience. The service is certainly fast, the waiters friendly and knowledgeable, and the dining space light and bright. We’ll definitely be heading back, but perhaps this time for pizza night.
On the Wood
Al Mouj Street, Wanasa Hotel Apartment Building
Tel: 2427 1444
Lunch for six, including water: RO17.9
A great value eatery with service to match
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