Way 3329, Al Khuwair, MuscatNearby Landmarks Average Cost
Dinner for three: RO39Website
American, Fast Food, Indian
We’re located at Way 3329, Al Khuwair, Muscat. Call in at (+968) 9695-5666
Team Y takes a trip into the future at an eatery embracing robotic service. Shame the food is, too.
The line between gimmick and innovation is so thin that every so often you can find yourself in a tough spot questioning why one would spend so much on what can be deemed unnecessary.
Yet, after weeks of anticipation, it was with an open mind and high spirits that we headed to the newly-opened Roboto Restaurant that’s nestled in the heart of Al Khuwair.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start: we’re all for backing local startups and innovative ideas. Despite the neon-coloured interiors that seemed to have been picked up from a dance bar in Las Vegas, we were actually quite impressed by the overall theme – a restaurant headlined by droids.
In fact, the idea is rather novel in the Sultanate. We were amused by these tray-carrying ‘bots muttering snarky one-liners that border on the rude.
Surprisingly, the menu – which is an app on a tablet – was brought to us by an actual waitress.
Perhaps it’s the sophistication that we expected from the restaurant but we found ourselves toiling over the slow-to-respond tablets running on an unoptimised interface.
Crammed into it all is the whole menu, which brings in the best of India all the way to fast-food and more sophisticated dishes from the far west.
The tab interface was lacking, though, and we found ourselves placing double orders that we couldn’t cancel. We then had to summon our waitress to assist us in our ordeal.
To kick things off, we ordered two plates of hummus (the double order), a vegetarian soup, two glasses of fresh mango juice, a blueberry smoothie; and then topped it all off with a plate of dal, paneer tikka masala, white rice and a vegetable burger.
Meanwhile, the meat lovers placed orders for a platter of mini-slider chicken burgers, mixed grills, penne alfredo and a rib-eye steak.
The orders started flowing in not so long after, with different robots bringing us our dishes. It was then up to us to collect the dish from the tray.
To our disbelief, the hummus came alongside Indian chapattis and not Arabic bread. While we could forgive the combo, we then learned that the chapattis – which were almost rock solid and cold – were store-bought (!)
On the upside, the piquant and lip-smacking hummus saved us from the oily goop that was the vegetable soup with a torrent of fresh flavour reaped from the olive oil. It had just enough tang to keep the pungency of the chickpeas to a minimum.
Our next order, the dal and paneer tikka masala, was exceptional.
While the paneer tikka masala came with all the zest you’d expect from North-Indian gravy that’s encompassed in a succulent paneer, it was the dal that stood out with just the right dash of turmeric and chilli to keep us enticed with the aromatic rice.
However, what followed turned out to be the biggest letdown that none of us had quite expected.
The chicken sliders and the vegetarian burger were microwaved until dry causing the slices of cheddar cheese within to bubble, and lose their moisture and texture. The former were also lacking in flavour, along with the piping hot patty and suspiciously cold bread.
Our vegetable burger, however, was another story altogether: the moisture-soaked and crumpled bun (possibly from being microwaved) looked like it had been sat on, and was further let down by a slab of greasy and refried patty; the charred remains of which broke apart into thick chunks when held up.
Meanwhile, the mixed grill provoked a variety of reactions. The seekh and chicken kababs offered some solace in what was an otherwise sorry-looking platter decked with soggy fries. Adding to our woes were the charred and bland remnants of the tenderloin and beef kabab.
If that weren’t enough, the rib-eye steak seemed worthy of a spot on the TV show, ‘Kitchen Nightmares’. Topping the bill at RO10, it blew our expectations right out of the park.
Overdone and seared despite our pleas for a medium-rare steak; yet again, we collectively agreed that the sorry-looking slice of meat had seen better days… before praying over it.
It was so tough, in fact that it could even be sat up on the wooden plate.
That, coupled with the oily remnants of the meat and what seemed like flavourless reconstituted mashed potatoes, brought our supper to an end.
We decided it best not to stick around for pudding.
The gimmicky robots aside, there’s very little for us to write home about. If anything, we’d like the management to continue honing its Indian dishes, as it currently stands as the glue that holds an otherwise broken menu.
It’s a clear case of trying to reinvent the wheel – and in pursuit of that, this restaurant has lost clarity on its goal: serving food. ν
Way 3329, Al Khuwair, Muscat
Opening hours: 12 noon to 11:00 p.m.
Contact: (+968) 9695-5666
Dinner for three: RO39
A great concept marred by subpar food, and in general, a valiant attempt to reinvent the wheel.
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