Sunday, October 10, 2010

UAE Restaurant Review: Al Hamra Marina & Yacht Club

In a nutshell: well-presented food with great views but staff still need a bit of training

The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is home to Al Hamra Marina & Yacht Club which is part of the mushrooming Al Hamra development of hotel, golf club and luxury villas and apartments. It is quite a drive to get to RAK and I personally find the Emirate very industrial and unattractive, however, after turning off the main road and reaching the Yacht Club we were able to breath easier looking out at the azure waters of the marina, gorgeous boats moored up, the hotel beach over on the opposite side and the attractively designed residences all around the inlet (it's not quite big enough to be called a bay). We would have loved to sit outside on the large terrace but temperatures have still not come down enough for al fresco lunchtime dining, sitting inside didn't impede our view though as the windows are floor to ceiling. Recently taken over by new management (actually my Dad's company Henderson International), there are still a few teething issues in terms of training - as is to be expected - but the meal we had was excellent with some very originally presented dishes.

The menu was varied with the usual variety of salads, soups, grills and seafood but there were a few things you don't see at many places, including a Reuben sandwich - it wouldn't be my choice but my Dad really enjoyed it. I went for the Al Hamra salad with coconut chicken goujons and was pleased to find that the salad was not 90% lettuce as is so often the case and also that the chicken had a garnish of grapefruit - something a little different. I had hoped the chicken would be simply coated in dessicated coconut but it was coconut and breadcrumbs; I'm not supposed to be eating bread since I'm intolerant to wheat and yeast but you have to cheat sometimes and it was worth it! The chicken was actually under the appetisers section but was far too big for a starter - I couldn't even finish it as a main course. Simon's steak came with a healthy mix of vegetables but his medium-well done request was forgotten and his sauce slowly turned pink as he cut into the steak - luckily he can eat rare meat, I would have had to send it back. The dish that gave us the biggest 'wow' moment was my Mum's french fries! Served in a bowl lined with a crispy Arabic bread we thought it was a fantastic idea and it looked really impressive. Not only that, but the ketchup was served in a half pepper that had been carefully cut in a jagged pattern - if you look carefully you will see the other half of it on Simon's plate.

The staff were all friendly but lacked a bit of confidence and forethought, which will hopefully come with more training and experience. My Mum's fruit salad should have some with cottage cheese but when she asked where this was she was informed that they didn't have any - not really an issue but as soon as the kitchen got her order they should have informed her there was no cottage cheese incase she wanted to choose something else. The supervisor asked us if we'd enjoyed our meal when he was clearing our plates; if we hadn't enjoyed it then asking at that point would have been a bit late. Just small things that I'm sure will be ironed out in time. The price was fantastic with the steak costing just Dhs 85 and the sandwiches and salads at around the Dhs 30-35 mark. After our lunch we went upstairs to look at the upstairs bar and terrace which are open in the evening, I could imagine lying up there on a rattan sofa with a nice drink watching the sunset...bliss.


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