My dinner at Amaseena The Ritz-Carlton on JBR was a stunning reminder of the country and region we are living in. Superb food and an inviting atmosphere created a night to remember.
A lovely evening out for the whole family.
With striking Arabic décor this is a great escape from the busy city life. Amaseena is tucked away in a quiet corner of The Ritz-Carlton garden. You follow a winding pathway through the fairy light lit trees, until you see Bedouin tents poking out of the scenery. Warmly greeted by the host Ananta we were treated to a traditional hand washing ceremony, with fragrant cooling rose water. Then led to our seating area, plush low seating around a table, with a flickering candle and the beautifully lit palm trees creating a romantic and cozy environment; the soft and vibrant sound of the live violinist adding a sense of occasion to our evening. Later in the night we were treated to a belly dancing show. The dancer was very talented and entertaining, also engaging with the children; showing them some dance moves. Highly enjoyable!
My guest and I (who also happens to be an avid photographer) first sat and enjoyed a chilled and fruity glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Recommended by our server, we were told this was the perfect choice to accompany both fish and meat. This is not a restaurant where you rush through your food. You take your time and drink in the surroundings. A mixture of tables, sofa areas and cabanas for larger groups, each covered in sumptuous red fabrics, with candles and glass encased lanterns; adding to the luxurious and Arabian atmosphere.
The food at Amaseena
Amaseena offers an evening buffet of Syrian cuisine with elements from Morocco. The Sous Chef Hussam Alhariri very kindly gave us a tour of the various sections; they pride themselves on the freshness of their produce and the unique cooking methods they use. The bread is all freshly baked in differing styles, in a massive wood-burning oven or on a traditional heated drum. The bread is then either served filled with Za’atar or cheese, or plain for dunking in their vast selection of hummus and Moutabal.
The chefs are highly talented and add to the experience with the Oriental Chef Rami Almaket offering guests advice on what to eat and making recommendations about the food on offer. Making this a truly interactive dining experience.
Each station was dedicated to a different style of Syrian cuisine. I found the Moutabal and Hummus section particularly fascinating, and was informed by the chef that Moutabal is not only limited to eggplant, in his region they will make it depending on which produce is most plentiful, so some years they can even have it made from apples. That evening I tried for the first time beetroot Moutabal; absolutely delicious, earthy and sweet the perfect accompaniment to the freshly baked bread.
There are also the traditional Tabouleh and Fattoush salads, well seasoned and simply delicious. Once you have had your fill of ‘starters’ then you really must move on to the barbeque area. You can choose from a selection of skewers of different meats or fish, we chose the squid, cooked to perfection with a spicy sauce! Or you can try something rather special.
Amaseena has a traditional Mandi oven. Under ground and heated with hot coals and wood, the meat is slow cooked over several hours, giving the meat (in this case turkey and lamb) a heady smoked taste, and it is cooked perfectly so the meat will just melt in your mouth…we went back for seconds!
If you have space after this feast then I do recommend you try the desserts, especially the traditional Arabic dish Kunafa, for those of you unfamiliar this has a shredded filo pastry base topped with mozzarella cheese and then soaked in syrup; sweet with a savoury twist, a light and tasty end to a sumptuous meal.
Amaseena is a real treat, only open during the winter months; you sit outside and soak in the ambience. No traffic noise and not fuss. This is a place to go a just relax, indulge in the food and leave with fond memories.