Having served much of Europe for more than 115 years, Angelina Paris proudly sits as one of the oldest tea houses in the world. It even advertises that publicly; proclaiming (in French) ‘Established in 1903’.
Having entered Oman sometime in 2016 with three branches – in the Sabco Centre in Wattayah, Al Mouj, and the Muscat Grand Mall – it seems that its bosses have left nothing to chance.
When you walk through the door – in this case, of Al Mouj – the décor is splendid and radiates a slice of La Belle Epoque. From the shaded chandeliers to the mock-Chippendale chairs and marble tables, Angelina Paris is certainly chic.
Seated by a very courteous waiter, we were immediately approached by the head chef herself, Soly. She suggested we try out her new menu.
Being a hungry bunch, we asked her to draw up the theme for the night.
Around 10 minutes or so later, our starters arrived: a Labneh Tartine, Roquefort Salad, Shrimp with Carrot Puree, Scallops with Avocado Tartare, Lobster with Ratatouille, Broccoli cream soup, Grilled Halloumi, and Salmon and Avocado Tartare.
We dug in while intermittently poking into each other’s. That said, each of the plates had its own strengths but the fresh Lobster with Ratatouille was in a league of its own.
The light undertone of the zucchini and the accompanying veggies of the ratatouille gave the Omani Lobster its flavour. This was quickly followed up by the Labneh Tartine – a wonderful spectacle of French cuisine blended with a Middle-Eastern zing.
The Labneh – a very generous creamy soft cheese portion – certainly added an aura unlike anything we’d tried earlier, mingling the French’s fascination for fresh bread with the tang of a seasoned Arabic cheese.
One of our friends also noted that the Broccoli cream soup had a “nice hint of creaminess, and was rightly seasoned with a dash of the green plant (broccoli)”.
Next up was the Salmon and Avocado Tartare – entailing a sizeable portion of grilled salmon and creamy avocado spread. We thoroughly enjoyed it – the soft and flavoursome salmon slice was top-notch, with its crispy skin done to perfection, and the underlying avocado cream, which we thought wouldn’t tie in with the dish, was a revelation.
As we headed into our main course, our expectations were high.
And boy, were we in for a treat. Arriving on piping-hot plates were the signature dishes – the lamb chops, lamb shank, stuffed chicken, beef fillet, sea bass fillet, salmon royal fillet, and sea food risotto.
As heavy as it seemed, the six of us were ready for the challenge that lay ahead. First to go down were the two lamb dishes and the beef fillet – all three garnished with fresh veggies and grilled amply to keep the juices locked in within the meat, but not at the expense of a crispy outside, which just invited us to delve into it. We couldn’t narrow down a winner, proclaiming each with its own merits.
By now we were reeling but continued with the sea food bits of the main course. There were no surprises there – each dish being cooked to the highest standards – and without any compromises.
Standing out was the fatty chunk of salmon in the royal fillet. The flavours from the fats created a delectable dish with melt-in-the-mouth fish, a side of baby veggies (carrots, zucchini, and tomatoes), and a thick cream dressing. The freshness of the fish was evident as we sunk our teeth into the thick fillet – this is a must-try for anyone heading here.
The chicken fillet, stuffed with turkey meat and cheese was, according to our friend, the “best stuffed chicken he’d ever had in Oman”.
Even though we were replete, the chef then suggested we try out the new pudding menu – which is something Angelina is well-known for in France.
Waiting for us was a Crème Brulee, a chocolate lava cake, a tropical date shake, and an affogato mocktail. The star of the night was also the hardest pudding to prepare – the Crème Brulee.
With just the right amount of consistency, clear from when we sunk the pudding spoon into the crust; the flawless texture of the rich custard base and the hardened caramelised sugar was a rare treat.
Angelina Paris’ new menu offers greater portions than before at more affordable prices. But, where it stands out is in the overall consistency and hard work put into each dish.
This was definitely an eye-opener after all the disappointment we’d had before. Well done, Angelina Paris. Well done.
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