Muscat’s upscale diner goes local with authentic Omani spread

Change is the only constant at Zeitoun, one of Muscat’s classiest eateries which — having tantalised gastronomes with a selection of exquisite Mediterranean creations — is returning to its roots with an Omani themed menu supplemented with GCC and international cuisines.

The menu change, coming nearly two years since it opened its doors at its upmarket Al Mawaleh location, is in keeping with a commitment to staying attuned to the culinary desires and tastes of its burgeoning clientele.
Thus, when it launched early in 2016 with a delightful menu of North Mediterranean dishes, Zeitoun became the leading suburban diner for corporates, families, and foodies in general. But the appeal of authentic North Mediterranean cuisine, it turns out, is limited to small numbers of connoisseurs — a realisation that prompted Zeitoun to revamp its menu.
Driving the menu change is celebrity Omani chef Issa al Lamki whose culinary innovations have electrified the local food scene while also riveting international attention to the gastronomic capabilities of a new generation of budding Omani chefs.
Under Chef Issa’s supervision, Zeitoun’s menu has undergone a complete and delightful makeover. While the theme is predominantly Omani, there are also dishes inspired by Gulf and Middle Eastern cuisines. Coupled with the inclusion of international flavours, the restaurant’s offerings are now broad-based in keeping with Zeitoun’s vision to appeal to an eclectic mix of customers.
The new menu invites guests to explore an array of authentic Omani dishes.

For the main course, there is braised lamb served shuwa style and camel meat braised with Omani spices, onions and tomato. Equally appetising is Omani mashakik featuring a mix of lamb chop, chicken, prawns and mixed vegetables served with Omani mandrouba. Chicken is also served shuwa style, while the seafood ‘catch of the day’ comes marinated with traditional Omani spices.
But it’s not the main course alone that is Omani themed in its offerings. A wide selection of soups, salads, breads, and grilled dishes are strongly Omani in style and flavour. So do Zeitoun’s spread of desserts — the big attraction being a choice of traditional Omani sweet topped up with frankincense flavoured ice-cream. The menu is also punctuated with favourite offerings from other countries including Indian and Italian dishes. Husain Abdul Fattah Ghulam al Lawati, Group CEO, Al Balushi Group to which the Zeitoun brand belongs, said the menu change is expected to pull in a diverse mix of customers and food lovers.
“Driving the menu change have been two key imperatives: One was the realisation that North Mediterranean dishes did not resonate very well with our local target audience. Besides, the absence of high-end restaurants specialising in local Omani cuisine presented an opportunity for us to reposition Zeitoun to meet this market need,” Al Lawati commented.

Titash Chakraborty