Restaurant review: the new menu at The Grill in Marriott Hotel Al Forsan raises the steaks
Chef Tarik Djim is in charge at The Grill, and we are invited to watch him in action while we eat, with the open kitchen in full view of diners
Step inside The Grill at Marriott Hotel Al Forsan and you are greeted by a Highland cow, its long ginger fringe swept snazzily to one side by a seemingly stiff Scottish breeze. The artwork hangs on the wall adjacent to the entrance and is the first indication that here is a restaurant that combines steak with style after launching its new menu last month.
What to expect and where to sit
Below the bonnie wee coo is a life-size model bull, its body divided into sections by dotted lines and hand-painted labels to identify each of the cuts, from neck and paleron to silverside in its hindquarters. It certainly catches the eye, while also standing in the perfect place to offer a sympathetic ear to anyone killing time at the bar as they wait to be seated.
The restaurant has undergone a facelift to go along with its new menu and is elegantly lit, with bench seating and more intimate tables available. I arrive on a quiet night and am seated next to floor-to-ceiling windows that run the length of the restaurant, with dim blue lighting outside adding to the cosy setting of The Grill. There are more bovine portraits hung on a partition wall behind me, as well as the silhouette of another cow, with each cut labelled as before. If I wasn’t in the mood for steak before, I certainly am now.
Amid the familiar dining accoutrements is another interesting addition – a small block of salt sits next to a tiny grater. It looks like a novel way of adding seasoning to your food, but a quick test run suggests it’s less practical than a traditional grinder.
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With the new food menu contained on one side of A3, it is clear the kitchen knows what works and has no appetite for overwhelming guests with myriad options. This is about steak done well – or well done, if that’s what you’re after – and served in a way that befits fine dining. The beef is sourced from Argentina, Australia and the US, and it is worth taking a moment to read the short descriptions of each type before making your selection.
There are seven starters to choose from, four of which contain some kind of seafood. I order the roasted butternut pumpkin soup (Dh55), while my dinner companion goes for the intriguingly titled Broccoli Indulgence (Dh59). Both are suitable for vegetarians (something that seems less relevant in a steakhouse) and are light enough so as to leave room for the main event. The soup is made in the kitchen, but served at the table, when a turret of pumpkin topped with goat’s cheese is submerged in creamy broth poured from a jug by our affable waiter, Alish. The soup also provides a good excuse to order a second helping of The Grill’s homemade bread, which is baked for guests when they arrive and is proving to be a big hit.
For the mains, I order from Down Under and pick the 220-gram Westholme Wagyu tenderloin (Dh255), which is the most expensive cut on the menu, and promises lasting juiciness and an earthy, buttery palate, and throw in the Paris mash and ginger shiitake mushrooms for good measure. We also try the Argentinian ladies’ cut tenderloin – that’s a 170g serving – with grilled asparagus. We ask for the meat to be cooked medium rare, an order that earns an approving nod from Alish.
The ginger brings a delectable heat to the shiitake, while the mash and asparagus are good sides, but the steaks are the headline acts and at The Grill they don’t disappoint. Both cuts are presented on their own plates with only single sticks of broccoli for company, and after cutting into the Wagyu I am glad the meat isn’t sharing the spotlight. It is tender and incredibly juicy, while the Argentine beef is packed with lasting flavour. The quality of meat we have been given makes me second-guess my sauce almost immediately. From the 12 available, I opted for homemade barbecue and, as wonderfully tasty as it is, the flavour is so strong that a healthy dollop drowns out the Wagyu. My companion showed greater savvy by choosing the subtle mushroom and herb sauce, a far better pairing for a steak of this calibre.
Busy exulting the steaks, we order dessert almost as an afterthought, but the aptly named elegant lemon tart (Dh45) is a worthy encore to the meal. Lemon sorbet and meringue mousse are encased in a white chocolate shell that has been made to look so convincingly like a lemon that, at first, I am tempted to slice it to use as a garnish for my citrus crush mocktail, which comes with a paper straw.
A chat with the chef
Chef Tarik Djim is in charge at The Grill, and we are invited to watch him in action while we eat, with the open kitchen in full view of diners. But that does not make this a noisy restaurant, with glass keeping any clattering to a minimum. He tells us the truffled onion soup was a starter the kitchen was excited to bring to the new menu, while the Wagyu tenderloin is the choice cut for meat lovers.
Value for money and contact information
The steaks cost from Dh135 to Dh255, which isn’t at all bad for the quality of meat and fine-dining flavour. Other grill selections start at Dh115 and run to Dh295 for the live Canadian lobster with herb butter, while the starters are all under Dh100. The Grill is open daily from 6.30pm to 11.30pm and tables can be booked by calling 02 201 4131.
This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant
Updated: September 25, 2019 06:32 PM