Generous portions, delicious dishes, waiters with warm smiles and affordable prices… Grill House makes up for a lack of look and ambience with everything else you simply cannot resist. Alvin Thomas steps out of the Seeb restaurant with a tummy full of yummy moments.
There are three criteria that a restaurant must fulfill in order to attain cult status in Oman: first, it must have the right ambience; second, it must serve flavoursome foods; and third, the waiters must be courteous and mannerly.
If it fails any one of the three, it will inevitably flop. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the burger joint that recently closed down at the Muscat Grand Mall or the numerous joints that have been replaced by other vendors, in Shatti, in recent times.
Somehow, I seem to have found an exception; a loophole in my theory, if you may say.
The restaurant in question is the Grill House –which is situated in Seeb, opposite the Muscat International Airport.
It may seem like the perfect location for a restaurant, but surprisingly, it isn’t. There are never enough customers in the restaurant during peak hours, and it’s all thanks to the dearth of offices in the neighbourhood.
But, this restaurant has been hanging on to dear life for years now –and that’s mighty admirable.
It’s a sight you cannot miss on your drive from Muscat to Seeb.
Walking into the restaurant, I was greeted with a blast of warm wind –not something you expect when you are entering a dining area (!)
I was quickly told by a staff member (not a waiter) that the entrance leads straight to the party hall and that the restaurant itself is towards the corner of the building.
Not a good start, then. My colleagues Matthew (aka Matt) and Salim (aka Mr Bean), who were accompanying me, also concurred.
We were then greeted by a very courteous attendant. He presented us with our menus, and waited for us to complete our order. It’s not really a grill house in the traditional sense of the word, but unlike similar places where you just get rice with meat, this place has a bit of everything –Chinese, Indian, Thai, Arab and continental dishes galore.
Matt went for his favourite: Madrasi chicken curry (a south Indian dish) and garlic naans (Indian bread). Mr Bean opted for chicken biriyani and I topped the order with a plate of egg fried rice and hummus with naan.
The hummus was the first to arrive, and we all dug into it without any haste.
Mr Bean –being the hummus aficionado that he claims he is –said it was one of the best he had ever had.
He was right: with just the right serving of ground chick peas and olive oil, the hummus was perfect in consistency and mild (and delightful) to the taste.
Some restaurants are known to serve sour hummus, which is characteristic of low-grade chick peas.
Our main course was the next to arrive.
Matt –with a wide smile on his face –quickly said the chicken was not too spicy but just right. He also found the naan to be soft and delicious, and with the precise serving of garlic. Any more and he would have seen himself running around the restaurant with a burning tummy, I imagined.
The chicken was succulent and the gravy thick. But, it was indulging alongside the otherwise dry naan slices.
Speaking of which, Mr Bean said his biriyani was a tad dry, too, but with the perfect serving of spices and masala; just the way he likes it. The portion was generous, and the ratio of masala to rice was nothing short of admirable.
I must point out that I found the biriyani to be too spicy for my liking. Needless to say, spice lovers will thoroughly enjoy it.
The egg fried rice, unlike the biriyani, was not too dry. I certainly enjoyed the general simplicity of the dish. A dab of soya sauce, and it was good to go.
Matt, who tried out the fried rice, said it was one of the better ones that he had in recent times. That was enough testimony for me, not just for the dish but the restaurant, too.
The food, the generous portions, and the welcoming waiters took away any of my pretensions I formulated over the ambience and the location of the restaurant.
Agreed, it was wrong of me to judge a restaurant by its looks, but I have to say the Grill House does exactly what it says: it gives the diners a good meal at an affordable price; all served with a smile on the waiter’s face.
And it earns big points just because of these two details.
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Good fuss-free food at affordable rates. Lacks the ambience of a diner, though