Aroma, Kempinski Hotel

Now we are finishing work a little earlier due to Ramadan we can get back home in time to catch a business lunch. On Thursday we chose to go to Aroma at the Kempinski as we often go to one of the outlets at W but we fancied a change. We’ve been to Aroma a few times before and also to The Lounge and Z Lounge  for drinks and always found good service and nice surroundings. We didn’t have a reservation but as there were only a couple of other tables occupied it wasn’t a problem. The restaurant is quite small and cosy with a light, airy feel and a semi open kitchen. It was nice to see a few decorations in recognition of the Holy Month.


We were brought the business lunch menu and were a little spoilt for choice.

Having placed our order we were brought a lovely selection of fresh breads with butter and pesto oil. I love a good bread basket!

For my starter I chose salmon with avocado and fruit. It was beautifully presented and tasted so fresh with a lovely zingy, zesty sauce and balls of avocado which packed a citrus punch in contrast to the subtle salmon. Greg chose the crepes which were fresh and tasty, with lots of chicken and mushroom however it wasn’t too heavy.

After about fifteen minutes our main courses arrived, another wow. My sea bass looked and tasted amazing. It was soft and flaky with buttery spinach and mushrooms. The crab bisque added depth but wasn’t too rich or overpowering. Gregs face lit up when he saw the camel burger. It’s their signature dish and certainly looks impressive. A juicy, thick, camel patty with melted halloumi and salad on a nutty bun. The flavour is hard to describe as its not like beef as its a bit richer, more like game with a sweetness and kick of spice. It didn’t last long!

For dessert we’d both opted for millefeuille, but for me it was a little disappointing. Again, it certainly had the wow factor, it was like a mini work of art. The flavours worked well together but I felt there was a lack of strawberries and cream and my pastry was a little hard. The layers of the pastry weren’t really clearly defined so it felt a little heavy and crunchy, more like a biscuit. The pastry Greg had was a little better as it was softer. Overall it was refreshing and fruity but lacked the buttery lightness if that makes sense?

Our lunch was very nice, it was good value at 95QR each for 3 courses (excl drinks). The service was fantastic, the staff really care and show an interest, I also like that they identify the healthier options on the menu. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in West Bay during or after Ramadan I would recommend Aroma, the business lunch is served weekdays 12noon until 4pm.

Aroma - Kempinski Residences & Suites Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sawa, Marsa Malaz Kempinski

Saturday was our first visit to the Marsa Malaz and I have to admit I was impressed. The hotel is stunning, so beautifully and elegantly designed, I would have been happy to spend a few hours just admiring it but we were hungry and had a lunch reservation at Sawa. I had emailed to reserve a table earlier that day and quickly received confirmation, when we arrived it was fairly quiet as it was a week day – the restaurant is pretty big with a fantastic open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work, again the decoration was lovely.

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As it was a perfect November day so we chose to sit on the terrace which looks out towards the beach and the Pearl, it also offered a fantastic close up view of Ahmed Al Bahranis bronze horse sculpture which is very impressive as it towers over the tables

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We opted for the business lunch priced at 95QR each which is similar to other promotions across the city mid week. The menu is quite small a choice of 3 starters, mains and desserts but I felt it offered a variety to suit most people.

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I ordered the Pea Soup with Goats Cheese and Popcorn Prawns, Greg went for the Smoked Salmon Rillette. After ordering we were presented with an amazing bread basket, the bread was still warm and served with salted butter and hummus, I think if we had just eaten this we would have been happy! Its always a good sign when your first reaction to seeing your dish is ‘wow’ but my soup had that effect. It was so pretty and smelt divine. The sweet velvety soup had swirls of salty goats cheese melted through it and the lightly battered prawns on the side were delicious, it was a 5* version of fish with mushy peas! Greg really enjoyed the smoky salmon as it wasn’t too overpowering and the thin crispy cracker bread was perfect.

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For mains I ordered Hammour with Lentils and Greg ordered the Angus Short Rib, the intention was to share but we enjoyed our dishes so much that didn’t really happen. The Hammour was light and moist and worked with the lentil which had a quite firm texture. Greg loved the short rib, it was so tender it just melted in your mouth and the croutons had absorbed the salty, meaty gravy. Another outstanding dish.

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I can usually take or leave dessert, I don’t really have a sweet tooth but the Snickers dish caught my attention as I love salted caramel. It was again very well presented with hand made chocolates but I found it far too sweet and Greg ended up eating mine as well as his Panna Cotta which is one of his favourite desserts. He did however feel that the amount of orange soup overpowered the white chocolate so the taste of it didn’t really come through.

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Our bill came to 350QR for two 3 course business lunches, a large water, a beer, coffee and a tip which is brilliant value. We absolutely loved our lunch here, everything came together – good service, pretty view and fantastic food. The a la carte menu looks really good and if the standard of business lunch is anything to go by I am sure it will be another ‘ wow’ experience.

Sawa - Marsa Malaz Kempinski Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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