Last night I went to my first highly anticipated hotel buffet style Iftar. What is iftar? It is the meal after sunset when Muslims break their fast of the day during the holy month of Ramadan, traditionally with dates, juice and a light meal before their prayers.
However, many hotels across Dubai go all out, setting up lavish venues with twinkling lights to display vast amounts of food where families and friends can gather and enjoy the occasion.
Last year I didn’t go to any of the fancy hotel iftars, I think I feel in two minds – is this what the spirit of Ramadan is really about? Indulging in vast amounts of food, where so much is inevitably wasted. But on the other hand I wanted to see for myself what it was like and experience the atmosphere.
We arrived early at the Marriott Marquis- currently the tallest hotel in Dubai. The ballroom within which the Al Fanous Iftar is held is on the second floor. As we walked in, checked our reservations at the front desk, we were escorted through a stunningly beautiful venue-white tables and chairs adorned with lanterns and bowls of dates and dried fruits. The colour scheme was purples and blues.
I was impressed by the opulent decor. However, our first problem came when the lady showing us to our table couldn’t find it. We were stood waiting while she peered at the table plans, consulted with another member of staff and eventually sat us at a table with three place settings… there were only two of us and my friend and I questioned whether this was correct- we could see plenty of empty tables for two. “No this is correct” she said. We received a glass of water and juice each. However five minutes later another staff member brought a group of three to our table and stood looking puzzled- well it was clear to us we were in the wrong place. After muttering beside us the manager (I think) told us there had been a confusion and the other group were supposed to be at our table. “Yes that’s fine we will move” we said. He tried to get us to stay sitting there while the other group of three stood next to us waiting. This felt so awkward so we excused ourselves and stood up. Five minutes later he returned and reseated us- at another table with three place settings. “Are you sure this is correct?” “Yes of course”. But five minutes later the lady who originally seated us asked us to move again! This time we refused as there were plenty of empty tables and we had been moved around already. It was like we were pieces in a game of chess. I must say I was disappointed they didn’t apologise much to us, maybe a sorry was muttered once but it didn’t seem very sincere and put us on edge for the rest of the night- we felt it hard to enjoy the ambience of the beautiful surroundings.
At 19.07 it was time to explore the food. The options were extensive and happily there were also plenty of vegetarian options which I had been worried about. The Thai vegetable curry was beautifully creamy, this along with roasted vegetables, vegetable spring rolls and samosas, rice and I was full! My meat eating friend enjoyed her choices too..
Any fish and sushi lovers had plenty of choice…
I chose not to return for a second plate- although I had my eye on the vegetable korma and the alfredo pasta. Instead I opted for dessert!!
When you walk in the venue, you pass an impressive display of pretty desserts. From a chocolate fountain to Turkish ice cream to mini plates of mousse and more traditional options there was something for everyone, and for a girl with a sweet tooth I was in heaven! My first plate..
You could choose from vanilla, Turkish coffee or pistachio flavoured Turkish ice cream…
How pretty are the dessert displays?! I always enjoy food more when it’s well presented and always have. Is that just me?
During a cup of green tea which was included (I asked for Moroccan but that was at an extra charge) the bill arrived. Unfortunately the bill was incorrect – we had participated in the excellent two for one offer the Marriot Marquis were offering on their Iftars for the first week of Ramadan. At the front desk I had shown my voucher, it was given to the lady who first (incorrectly) seated us and she has taken the voucher with her. After explaining the situation, showing my email we eventually received the correct bill and around 9pm were en route home pleasantly full from our Iftar.
Ramadan Kareem to all. Enjoy your iftar meals everyone, whether it is a meal at home with family, alone or with friends in a fancy hotel.
Hi, I live and work in Dubai. I enjoy getting out and about and seeing what Dubai has to offer, travelling in my holidays and spare time – prepare for blog posts about this, and cooking vegetarian recipes. I am passionate about travel and animals.