FINE DINING
Sugar, spice and everything nice
By Karen Ann Monsy
Friday, July 27, 2012

Billed for its rich food and entertainment, a review of the Antique Bazaar at Four Points by Sheraton proves its reputation solid

“You’re going to see mujra dancers!” squealed a friend, who was only too familiar with both the Antique Bazaar restaurant at Four Points by Sheraton in Bur Dubai I was to visit — as well as my less-than-healthy disposition to run in the opposite direction from anything remotely Bollywood.

Apparently, the ‘live entertainment’ is a key highlight of the hotel’s north Indian-themed restaurant, she informed a perfectly unassuming me.

Bookings done, however, there was nothing to do now but ignore her wicked glee and proceed as planned.

We stroll into the nondescript structure that is the Four Points Sheraton on Khalid bin Walid Street — the hotel has two other branches in Bur Dubai itself — to discover a small but classy four-star property that could be easily misread by those judging it from the outside. The hotel boasts two other fancily, albeit slightly oddly, named dining venues — La Terrace (on the ground floor next to the lobby) and The Promenade (where the only walk anyone looked like they’d be taking was from dining table to buffet counter and back again).

The Antique Bazaar, however, lives up to its name with old-fashioned Gujarati décor and a bazaar-ish feel to the place, thanks to the ‘peddler’ seated just outside the door, from whom you can buy trinkets and other souvenirs. The restaurant itself is inviting and we soon get down to the business of poring over the tall menus… for several minutes…

Eventually, we set ourselves at the chef’s mercy (there was far too much to choose from!) and, nursing our drinks of sweet lassis and fresh cocktails, listen instead as the smiling sitarist serenades us with soothing string music.

I’d actually been warned to expect “conversation-killing” music at the restaurant. People apparently like it that way, the hotel’s sales executive Paul Joseph explains when we quiz him. It certainly explains why diners continue to throng the place, even after years of playing music at the same supposedly aggressive decibel levels.

In fact, that’s the time the dinner crowd prefers to saunter in — around 9pm, when the live band and mujra dancer(s) take centre stage, both of who are actually quite entertaining as they belt out covers of Bollywood hits, take your requests and promptly send any further conversation out the window.

There are no tikka-speared forks hanging in the balance between slack-jawed mouths and still-full plates during the performances, but as Paul put it, “Evenings at Antique Bazaar are no time to have corporate conversations. People come for the food and the entertainment.” And they get an appetising serving of both.

Our appetisers arrive on cue — we’d opted for a variety of tikkas — and disarm us completely with their delicious aromas of tandoor-cooked meat. Neither my dining companion nor I are keen piscivores. But my partner (and I would certainly agree) has sworn to be back for their succulent, melt-in-your-mouth Mahi Tikka Ajwaini — white, boneless chunks of fresh fish marinated with yoghurt and ajwain, straight out of a charcoal oven. Is your mouth watering? Well, ours is too. Again.

The Chatpata Murgh Tikka (boneless chicken cubes marinated in a tangy masala) and Sofiya Achari Paneer Tikka (homemade cottage cheese marinated with pickled spices) are snapped up, devoured and relished in no time too.

While some may misinterpret the break between courses as tardy service, to me, they were perfectly timed, allowing us to take a breather instead of rushing through all the food and emerging like overstuffed turkeys. Besides, the entertainment provides a good distraction so that you have more on your mind than flagging down the courteous servers.

For mains, we share portions of the Murgh Mughlai Biryani — long grain basmati rice cooked to perfection with shredded chicken — but decline the accompanying curd so we can savour the zing of its home ground spices in full. The Goan Shrimp Curry could’ve tasted a little less oily, but the Murgh Tikka Lababdar — subtly flavoured with coriander and cooked in a rich onion and tomato-based gravy — couldn’t have been more tender. Don’t forget to try some of their aromatic Garlic Naan too; it’s great to sop up the curry as well as the rich Paneer Jalfrezi (fried cottage cheese and capsicum cooked in cumin-flavoured creamy tomato gravy) with, like we did.

We finish with piping hot Gajjar Halwa and Gulab Jamun for dessert (careful!), choosing sweet tooth over protesting tummy, and end up waddling out in the end after all — evidence that the Antique Bazaar has far more going for it than a touch of the Bollywood oldies.

karen@khaleejtimes.com

In seven words: 
Distracting entertainment and aromatic, mouth-watering Indian food

What we liked: That there was nothing fishy about the fish

What we didn’t like: Being rendered helpless by too many choices on the menu

Did you know: The restaurant serves veg/non-veg thalis for Dh50

Cost for two: Dh440

Contact: Antique Bazaar,  Four Points by Sheraton, Khalid bin Walid Street, Bur Dubai, 04-3977444

 

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