OMNY, the new acronym for all things festive, is a vibrant brasserie that has neatly fused cuisines from Europe and the Mediterranean, in flavours that are typically Omani
Muscat’s food-scape has moved several notches higher with the opening of OMNY restaurant at Hormuz Grand Hotel, Muscat. It is hauntingly refreshing in its setting and ambience, and completely satiating in its culinary presentation.
OMNY is a quaint New York style brasserie, with a deliberate focus on providing a global urban experience alongside a modern appearance to suit its Quorvus Collection portfolio. The dreamy interiors reflect a typical brasserie style, in a heightened mix of colours and textures that show attention to detail and comfort, be in its white table linen, soft velvets or the brushed brass and weathered mirrors.
With large glass windows opening to the outdoor seating and the impressive façade of the hotel, it is easy to soak up the energizing effect of the restaurant from any corner of the sprawling facility. Leafy plants add to the fresh appeal of the place, as chefs busy themselves in the open kitchen, to greet you with flavours and aromas that have promises of a satisfying meal.
It is a cool February noon, as we make our way to this exciting new food destination in the capital. We are, of course, familiar with the hotel, but the new restaurant is something else. As we make ourselves comfortable in our seats, with the perfect view of the kitchen and the outdoors, we are joined by Executive Chef Luke Borg, who brings with him a wealth of experience in the culinary field.He tells us that the restaurant is based on a New York theme with Mediterranean techniques and local flavours and seasonings. The team of chefs is young and lively, with Sous Chef Ashleena Pillay typifying it.
It is, indeed, a friendly place – ‘a place to meet and socialise,’ as Shafaque Ahsan, Director of Food and Beverage, points out. The menu has also been carved out to project a friendly mien, with dishes that are flexible, or ‘non-pretentious’, as the team puts it. We went in with chef Luke’s choice of dishes and he ensured that we were pampered all the way.
We have large appetites and he found a way to give us a varied taste of OMNY dishes to get us to crave for more when we visit it next time.
We began with ‘Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Pate with local Date’, a dish that originated in France. “A lot of influences took over the original recipe – we looked at the New York concept,” explained Chef Luke, adding they have the original recipe but gave it a symbolic Omani twist with saffron and dates.
Next on our lunch agenda was ‘Sambusak’, filled with local market vegetables, and ‘Minestrone with poached egg’, an Italian classic. The latter has been incorporated by many cultures, but at OMNY it is presented with local seasonings to make it taste Omani.
We also tucked into ‘Smoked lamb sausage with tomato jam’, for a Middle East touch to our luncheon. While the lamb is smoked with rosewood to give it a local touch, it presented in the old heavy based dishes, which are symbolic to New York.
It was a festive spread in every sense of the word, as we followed that with ‘Bouillabaisse’. Educating us about the dish, the chef described it as a French classic fish stew for the ‘poorer’ social class in the 17th century. Explaining about the OMNY take, he said: “Our story for this is that we are using luxury shellfish, like Omani lobsters, Omani crab and scallops and converting the stew into local delicacy.”
Our menu also included ‘Salad Nicoise’, a local tuna dish with a New Yorkish approach and ‘Omani lobster croque monsieur’, which, as the chef notes, is a classic 18th century dish, originating from the ancient classic bistros from Paris. “We brought it to Oman by introducing lobster in the bread which is local and saffron powder which is a complex new technique yet local,” he adds.
The ‘Haloumi Soufflé’, served with local greens and nuts, was a dish made divine with the fluffy pillow of Haloumi cheese; ‘Corn fed chicken with beets and corn’ was tender, juicy and healthy, with beets and corn adding to the health factor; the ‘Omani red mullet al cartoccio’ had very local flavours, as it was wrapped in banana leaves along with the parchment paper; ‘Risotto Milanese with lamb ossobuco’, is a signature dish, made interesting with the chef coming to the table to explains the nuances of the dish…
Did we have space for more?
Well, the desserts were inviting. They are all very French based with extra condiments like dates, saffron, ginger, carob and halwa to kick in the Omani flavours, but it was the crème brulee that got us wishing we had more tummy space to eat an entire bowlful.
Looking back on that long luncheon, we can probably compare the aftereffects of OMNY to a good book that remains with you, long after you have turned the last page.