Al Mouj’s newest upscale café is serving up more than just Insta-worthy desserts and latté art creations – but real, whole food that caters to those in search of healthy alternatives.
Call it social media fatigue, but it took two weeks of failed attempts before we finally made it over to Al Mouj Muscat to sample the wares at its new L’Eto Caffé located along its popular promenade, The Walk. Having open its doors only a month or two ago, this London import is still among a handful of ‘new kids’ on the block at the upscale Al Mouj development.
Already winning points on social media with its decadent Insta-worthy offerings, the place had already been gaining traction and buzz online. The last few times we passed by Al Mouj on a Thursday or Friday evening, L’Eto’s canopied outdoor terrace was always buzzing and the restaurant was full – packed with foodies seeking good food and the perfect Insta-pic.
As we entered on a quiet Wednesday morning during the National Day holidays, we quickly saw why the café is so popular with the social media set. Pick a word to describe L’Eto and we’d have to say ‘lush’. Flowers adorn the décor – everywhere from the centerpiece by the entrance and the pots on every table, to the ‘living’ canopy of flowers that hangs above L’Eto’s decadent pastry display case, where colourful, sweet creations of their own await those with an intrepid sweet tooth.
Grabbing a table near to the pastry counter we spot a vibrant green pistachio mille-feuille, towering frosted cupcakes and strawberry tarts, a saffron cake sprinkled with purple edible flowers, and more chocolate than we can fill ourselves up with.
It’s still fairly busy for brunch-time on a mid-week holiday, yet the service is friendly, fast, and attentive. We’re quickly seated, and our drinks order taken while we peruse the menu. Offering up an eggy array of breakfast classics, healthy smoothies and bowls, scrummy salads, and indulgent mains – from pasta, burgers, and lamb chops – there sure to be something on the menu here that fits the bill for all foodies.
This was the first time this writer had ventured eating out after discovering that I had some pretty serious food allergies and intolerances – from wheat, dairy, eggs, and garlic, to ginger, curry, and rapeseed oil. I knew I was going to be one of ‘those’ customers – ordering something on the menu and then asking for it to have ‘X,Y and Z’ ingredients cut out…every chef’s nightmare.
I felt self-conscious and an inconvenience to the staff – but they couldn’t have handled my dietary restrictions with more care and exemplary service. Already L’Eto offers alternatives to those with allergies – there are gluten-free items and almond or coconut milk substitutes are readily available.
I ordered up a blueberry acai smoothie with coconut milk while my companion ordered up a classic strawberry milkshake. For our mains I was hungry and wanted something substantial but wasn’t sure what to order. Their menu has a handy little guide for the social media-inclined, with small Instagram logos beside those items deemed especially photogenic.
I’ve got my eye set on their Cali Burger with a side of sweet potato fries – minus the bun and eliminating any garlic in the pico de gallo that comes with it. When I inform the waiter of my allergies, they immediately spring into action crossing-checking with the kitchen to make sure that my food will contain no allergens. And, thankfully, as their pico de gallo is made fresh – the garlic can easily be subbed out.
What arrives on the plate is a succulent deconstructed Cali Burger with a juicy well-seasoned patty, topped with fresh avocado, piquant pico de gallo, with a side of rocket and pomegranate salad and a charred cob of corn. All utterly delicious, Insta-worthy – and safe to eat.
My companion orders up a portion of their egg white omelette with a side of smashed avocado on rye toast with basil and light green salad. Simple food made flavourful with the freshness of the ingredients. There’s ketchup on the table – but we don’t need it. The flavours speak for themselves without the need to mask them in lashings of tomato sauce.
Even the sweet potato fries aren’t oily and have clearly been prepared in a healthier fashion using an air-fryer. Delicately crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, they don’t last long. We wash our meals down with our vibrantly hued bevvies. My blueberry smoothie is a gorgeous purple and topped with toasted flakes of coconut and green pistachio crumble, while my companion’s strawberry shake is reminiscent of a classic soda shoppe float completed with candy-striped (paper) straw.
But the most standout part of our experience at L’Eto that speaks to its level of customer service – which in our case was above and beyond, is when the restaurant manager came to our table having been informed of my allergies and offered to prepare me a portion of house-made bread using rice flour made-to-order on the spot.
It’s this attention to care and detail separates the good from the great in any sector of industry. L’Eto Caffé is a case-in-point example.
The Walk promenade, Al Mouj
Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. till 12 midnight, daily
Contact: (+968) 2454-6770
Lunch for two: RO28
Fresh, artisanal fare crafted with presentation in mind, in an upmarket ambience with service that’s above-and-beyond.
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