Kabeer Yousuf and Lakshmi Kothaneth –
Muscat, March 31 –
If there is a way that can help one have the delicacies of more than two cultures, which are geographically separated, and gastronomically united, they would certainly be a treat par excellence.
Dining at the Omny Brasserie was exactly that. One can feel the warmth of Omani flavours and ambience of New York, smiles and conversations with a welcome drink.
A mocktail of available fresh fruits of the day, chilled pink brasserie made of red berries and pineapple yoghurt, welcomed us to the enchanting interior of Omny as chef Luke Berg sat with us to know what we wanted.
Omny Brasserie is a seafood restaurant at the Hormuz Grand but serves local cuisine with an exquisite touch of Mediterranean and European flavour.
Veteran executive chef Luke Berg, from Malta, who has won Chef of Europe for two years, walked us through dishes, ingredients and the preparations. He is not a big fan of black pepper but would not mind if one of his customers had a craving for it.
Nevertheless, cheese has a special place in his kitchen.
The chef offered us octopus with beef Chorizo and seaweed tea to start with followed by Bouillabaisse — fisherman’s soup with scallops, crab and lobster. A great start to warm up our taste buds.
The chef explained that Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew from the port city of Marseille in France.
Bouillabaisse comes from the Provençal Occitan word ‘bolhabaissa’, a compound word that consists of the two verbs bolhir (to boil) and abaissar (to reduce heat, i.e., simmer).
Marseille fishermen used to make this stew using the bony rockfish which they were unable to sell to restaurants or markets. Bouillabaisse is prepared with at least three kinds of fish such as Red Rascasse, sea robin, and European conger.
“Tastes are of five types, sweetness, sourness, salty, bitterness and finally oleogustus, which is the unique taste of fats. Do you know which the sixth sense is?” Executive chef Berg asked eagerly. “It is Umami,” he explained and it relates to the enjoyment of having food such as cheese.“Here we offer our guests a unique dish called ‘Haloumi’ which is predominantly a Mediterranean and European cuisine made in a traditional Omani style”, Chef Berg said.
Risotto Milanese with lamb Ossobuco, and complemented by Red Mullet and Prawns Al Cartoccio was yet another delicacy.
‘Al Cartoccio’ is simply the Italian way of saying ‘en papillotte’ or ‘cooked in a bag’.
“This is a good way where you can have your fish especially the salmon with no smell when it was cooked because, however good it may be for you, the smell of salmon cooking can be a complete turn off. So, in a nutshell, Al Cartoccio or ‘cooked in a paper bag’ is a great way to have your salmon with all its natural taste”.
Yet another delight was the Ossobuco which we were just served with.
Actually, Ossobuco is a Milanese specialty of crosscut veal shanks braised with vegetables and broth.
It is often garnished with Gremolata and traditionally served with Risotto Alla Milanese.
Then came the final round of the 4-course menu where chef came out with a beautiful platter on his hand with Blueberry tart and saffron-coated dates followed by Crème Brûlée.
More than the food, what was unique about the dining at Omny Brasserie was chef Berg serving the food to the diners, while explaining the intricate detail of dishes.