Iftar Review: Tamani Marina Hotel Ramadan tent
I was invited for Iftar at Tamani Marina Hotel yesterday.
Never before, have I been to such poorly presented, orchestrated and extremely tormenting Iftar experience before in my life.
Honestly, I have been served lousy Iftar cuisines before. But they sucked at some things, sucked less at others. The people behind Tamani's Iftar tent proved, on a whole new level, that besides offering horrible food, there are actually more ways to ruin ones’ Iftar.
I don't know where to start from, so lets take it from the top.
When we walked in to the specially erected Ramadan tent on the pool terrace, the tables were arranged in a very odd, wrap-around layout arrangement that made a single raw of tables parallel to a split buffet. In between, another line of lounge-looking armchairs were laid out. The large round tables were fully set up with glasses, china and silverware. Lounge tables had single small plates and a bowl of dates.
It seemed that the original plan was to have some kind of a pre-iftar "lounge" for fasting people, and once iftar commences, people would move to the big round tables behind them.
While that idea may sound mildly interesting -in theory- the actual outcome was far away from what it was meant to be. When Iftar started, people ended bring their plates to where they sat on the lounge cushions; slouching down on tiny, cramped, poorly serviced coffee tables.
Most of the proper round banquet tables, with all their full-course cutlery sets, were left behind deserted.
And to make sure that the makeshift iftar tent doesn’t end up as steam bath, stand-alone Air condition units were scattered all over the place. When we sat down, the entire elevated floor was massaging our feet with a buzzing vibration that could induce a pregnant woman to delivery. But we got used to it after 10 minutes.
Ramadan Iftar buffets are unlike any other. Typically, there are specific dishes that are served with larger quantities than usual. Dishes such as soups, oriental salads, bite-sized pastry (fatayer, samosas, cheese puffs...etc) make prominent presence. Instead, there was a small bowl of soup the ran out after serving a dozen guests maybe. Refills were very slow. The Fattoush bowl, a Ramadan-must-have salad, was big enough to serve 5 or 6 people only. I didn't have any of those.
There was a line up of tiny sorbet glasses filled with pesto dipped cherry tomatoes and mozzarella sticks. Not your typical Iftar dish. Oh, there was a huge platter of salmon and vegetable Maki rolls(Sushi). Why in the world would any sane chef serve Sushi on an Iftar buffet?! :)
The main dishes section didn't look as confused as the salad one. I passed by a mixed variety of recopies from various parts of the planet. I saw Kabab Hindi (a Levantine pot cooked Kafta in tomato and onion stew), A universal BBQ mixed grill, Harees (emarati wheat and lamb squash), fish kabsa (Saudi/CGG saffron rice with chunks of fish fillets), European Potato Grattan, Moroccan lamb chops Tajin, Asian Stir fried beef (or chicken, not sure) and steamed veggies.
I scoped a bit of Kafta, a few pieces from the mixed grill trey with some plain white rice and Hommos. Safe choices, I thought to myself.
I thought wrong.
Everything I had was borderline fit for human consumption. The rice was bland and crunchy. The Kafta had a foul smell that virtually raped my taste buds. The Mix grill were OK, i guess and the hommos was grainy and synthetic, it felt as if it came out of a ready-mix tin can.
The person next to me was having Stuffed lamb, or Ooozi, (slowly cooked whole lamb with cinnamon rice and nuts). Hoping I can make up what i ate (or didn't), I found the lamb station and a server scooped 2 small servings of rice and a piece of meat. On my way back, i looked for this dish's typical sidekick, garlic flavored yogurt, but it was no where to be found.
The lamb was revolting. The meat the server slugged on my plate turned it to be mostly fat. The rice had the right color, but the wrong flavor. I have no idea how they did that.
My last resort was the desert section. There was a set of middle eastern sweets (a must have in Ramadan) and a decent variety of western ones. I had some Knafe, halawet el jeben and Hreeseh. The knafeh was really good to the point everyone at the table agreed that it was outsourced. i.e. supplied by the better known sweet shops in Dubai (Al Samadi or Al Baba). Everything else was left on the plates.
If you have a leeching relative, a self-invintg-piggy-bagging-super-self-imposing friend that you want to make sure he doesn't invite himself to your gigs again OR a wife you wanna convince that Iftar @ Home is the best option, Tamani’s Iftar tent is a guaranteed hit with its appalling menu, horrible service and an overwhelmingly distributing iftar experience.