The Cellar, Oryx Rotana

A baby shower was being organised for a friend and colleague and suggestions for a venue were asked for – nothing ‘ too baby showery’ or an afternoon tea – so I mentioned The Cellar at the Oryx Rotana. I had been previously for the tap brunch and really enjoyed it and felt this would suit the mum to be. As we were a large group a deposit was asked for, liaising with the restaurant was good, they advised a visit beforehand to check the tables were laid out properly and to finalise details.

When I arrived many other friends and colleagues were already tucking in and despite a couple more people than anticipated joining us Elsa the manageress dealt with setting up more table and chairs quickly. I like the lay out of this brunch, its is quite a small room with the food and drink as you enter then you walk through to the seating area and bar, it feels really cosy but not too small for a group of 20+. The music isn’t too loud so you can hold a conversation and the dark wood and low lighting creates a calm ambience.

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There was a wide selection of cold tapas including cold meats, seafood, salads, breads, bruschette and kebabs which you can help yourself to. After about an hour or so we were served 3 individual hot tapas and paella and after a while each table was also given a platter of beef steak, black cod and a pasta dish to share. The food was fresh, hot and well cooked and it offered a good variety to suit every taste. You could ask for more hot tapas at any point and the staff were very friendly and efficient, I particularly liked the black cod and got another serving and I would definitely order this off the main menu if it is available when I go again.

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Eventually we moved on to desserts and I think I ate the majority of the churros dunked into melted milk chocolate – they are very moorish. There were also fruit tarts, cheesecake, mousses and sponge cakes in addition to lots of fresh fruit for those being a little bit healthier. Drinks were served to the table continuously – unlimited wine or a variety of sangria flavoured with different fruits. I stuck to the strawberry sangria which was very sweet and not too strong and I was told the wine choices were very good. One small gripe and perhaps a misunderstanding on our part was that if you were paying for food only no drinks at all were included not even water. If you don’t opt for the drinks package remember to factor in the cost of water and soft drinks into the overall bill – our mum to be and other pregnant ladies were able to adapt their drinks package but you may want to confirm this with the restaurant first.

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I was relieved that everyone seemed to enjoy the food and drink – its always a bit of pressure when its your recommendation! The tapas brunch on a Friday costs 275QR with alcohol or 175QR for food only. I think this is good value for money and its a lovely place to go as a couple, small or large group. Throughout the week the restaurant has a variety of promotions such as an express lunch with 3 courses for 95Q and those who work in education can also take advantage of a 20% discount on a Friday if you take ID ( can’t be used for the brunch!). I will definitely go back and I hope other people who attended the baby shower will too.

The Cellar - Oryx Rotana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Outback Steakhouse, Lagoona Mall

Many years ago I worked on an American summer camp, the food was dire so on every day off we would go out to eat. One of the places I remember eating was Outback Steakhouse so when I was looking through the Entertainer for somewhere to eat last weekend and found a voucher for the Outback at Lagoona Mall off we went.

The restaurant is very similar in design and concept to places like Chilis and Applebees and is in the outside food court area. We were seated quickly and given a small loaf of bread with a bread knife sticking out of it and some whipped butter – so far so good. I suggested to Greg that we shared the ‘Bloomin Onion’ their signature starter consisting of a whole onion cut open then battered and deep fried which I have had before and its so bad its good. For mains I chose fillet steak and Greg chose a burger. When we ordered we specifically said to only bring our main course after or starter which the waitress was happy to do.

When our ‘Bloomin Onion’ arrived it looked pretty good, nicely golden with crunchy batter and the horseradish mayonnaise added a little kick and cut through the greasiness. However, the parts towards the centre of the onion weren’t cooked and were coated in a dry, spicy flour which didn’t taste nice at all. A couple of minutes into us eating our starter our mains arrived. I reminded the waitress we asked for our mains after the starter but unfortunately she didn’t quite know what to do and just hovered around our table holding our mains in the hope we would change our minds. We asked for them to be taken back to the kitchen and that point I knew they would not be great as they would be simply left aside to be kept warm. It is one thing that drives me mad eating out here – the rush to give you all the food you’ve ordered at once even when you have politely asked for that not to happen!

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About 10 minutes later with the onion pretty much demolished we asked for our mains and they were, as expected, quite disappointing. My steak although flavoursome was dry, the skin on the jacket potato was grey and soggy and the veg were hard – the courgette was bitter and inedible. Gregs burger was better, the meat was juicy it was cooked well and the salad was fresh. We were so full as our food had been brought so quickly ( we had ordered, been served and eaten in about 20 minutes) we asked for it to be boxed up for us which they were happy to do.

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Overall for a starter, 2 mains, 2 soft drinks plus a tip it came to 200QR using our Entertainer voucher – the cost of the burger was deducted. Based on this experience I wouldn’t rush back there are too many places doing the same thing better.

Outback Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato