Dining in the desert
When it comes to raising the steaks, Suhail, nestled within the stunning surrounds of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, has the winning formula
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara was recently awarded the title of the “World’s Most Instagrammable Hotel” by Luxury Travel Advisor. And a single visit to this retreat in the UAE capital is all it takes to discover why. As you make your way towards the Empty Quarter (or Rub Al Khali), the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world, this picturesque resort rises up from the fiery orange dunes. Against this remarkable setting, the hotel offers three unique dining experiences.
Expect a sumptuous spread for breakfast with dishes from all around the world at Al Waha. The poolside venue Ghadeer features Mediterranean favourites in a cosy, casual setting, ideal for a laidback lunch. Finally, Suhail stands out for its elegance and charm as the hotel’s signature steakhouse, and based on our recent visit, the culinary star of the property. Suhail redefines rooftop dining with its remarkable setting that overlooks the dunes of the Empty Quarter. And one of the best ways to take in the ambience is to visit before sunset, when cocktails are served from 4pm to 7pm, the perfect antidote to a bustling day spent exploring the desert. After you’ve had your fill of the views with your favourite drinks, head indoors, where the intimate ambience, characterised by traditional lanterns and candlelight, lends itself to a memorable dinner.
From the chef…
“At Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, we cater to a cosmopolitan audience with a wide variety of preferences. But quality produce remains a constant to deliver five-star dishes each and every time. We also make it a point to incorporate indigenous specialities on our menus by using locally sourced ingredients to pay homage to the rich culinary culture of the UAE.” – Chef Louis Badenhorst
During the cooler months, if you choose to dine on the deck, the scene around you transforms from colour-changing dunes at sunset to a thick blanket of glittering stars in the night sky. As you settle down for dinner, the first thing to arrive on your table is freshly baked bread, served with three buttery spreads – mildly spiced, parmesan-flavoured and lemon-infused. And before you tuck in, your server will reel you off the best menu choices while also explaining the restaurant’s “Sand. Fire. Salt.” concept which stands for the golden dunes surrounding the hotel, the flames that cook up the dishes on offer and the homemade salt blends that complement the flavours of premium meat. Accompanying the food is an extensive list of the world’s finest wines, sure to overwhelm even connoisseurs in the know.
In fact, for four years running, Suhail won the Award for Excellence by Wine Spectator for its sheer selection of popular and rare varieties, sourced from premium vineyards around the globe. To start off, our server recommended a light salad; clearly the best choice, given the decadence that followed. Full of flavour, the kale and seaweed salad is made up of edamame, quinoa, egg yolk and edible flowers, finished with a roasted sesame dressing. For your next course, Suhail’s soup selection is tempting, but we chose to skip it and make room for one of the restaurant’s signatures instead – a creamy tagliatelle flavoured with wild mushrooms and topped off with a generous portion of parmesan flakes.
Mains see you taking a pick from the venue’s grilled favourites featuring premium meat cuts, from Australian Angus to Master Kobe beef. For pescatarians, there’s also whole sea bass cooked in banana leaves. Given the generous portions, mains are best shared, unless you opt out of starters. We decided to sample the Australian rack of lamb, which our server recommended we pair with the green peppercorn jus. Every bite was a delight, thanks to the juicy lamb, seared to perfection with a few simple ingredients to amplify the flavour of the meat.
For sides, we chose the truffle mashed potatoes and sweet potato fries, although the asparagus hollandaise, green papaya salad and steamed seasonal vegetables make for wonderful guilt-free options. While your appetite is sure to be satiated by this point, we advise leaving room for dessert as Suhail’s sweet offering is definitely worth a try. To conclude the evening, we opted for the crème brûlée, the perfect end to a memorable meal, allowing you the chance to truly appreciate the restaurant’s serene surrounds in the heart of the desert as you savour every bite.
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