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Home: Living Here: Dining Out: Market Cafe

Do not let yourself get deceived by the name Market Café! This outlet at the Grand Hyatt Dubai is not just a mere coffee shop as the name suggests. But it is an experience that waits to be explored for its sheer innovativeness. It is a concept that is unique and something I am yet to come across.

Walking down the ramp leading to the café, the first thing that struck me was a little sign that said strictly exit only. That seemed a bit odd for a restaurant especially after having visited the hotel’s other outlets. The entrance was around the other side. But on entering, we discovered the exact reason for this sign. But that was something that we had to deal with only at the end of the meal.

Entering Market Café is like being thrust into a world of activity. People scurrying around with plates in their hands moving from one counter to another. Children, keen not to be left behind, tagged along their parents eager to get a piece of the action as well. And behind their counters, the Chefs were having a field day taking orders from their guests.

Handling his team extremely well is the manager of the outlet, Nizam. I first met Nizam when dining at Peppercrab, another outstanding outlet at the Grand Hyatt. His gentleness and knowledge of what he has to offer impressed me. As always, he was a most gracious host showing us around the restaurant and ensuring we were well looked after.

One of the reasons there is so much of a buzz around this place is because it adopts the self-service concept. Now that sound very familiar to a bazaar scene that we all have visited at some point of time. Although each dish you order is charged separately, you don’t have to pay every time. A swipe card that you get on entrance does the trick. This is your credit card at the Market Café which you can clear when you have finished your meal.

Even children get their own little card which they can use when they order food. Along with the most sought after Italian cuisine, there is the Arabic, Indian and Steak counters. One entire counter is dedicated to desserts which includes the Chocolate Fountain, which caught my attention at once.

Large boards at each counter display the list of delicacies that are available with their prices marked alongside. All you need to do is check the list, order and hand over your swipe card.

The café is located in a breathtaking surrounding fringed by lush greenery, an aspect of most outlets at the Grand Hyatt. And in summer where getting outdoors can be cumbersome, here is something that provides the right opportunity to enjoy an open feeling in comfort.

Armed with our cards, we decided to venture into the “market”. I must admit it was a difficult choice to make as to where we would start. Hence we did what most of the guests did that night. Walked from one counter to the other trying to decide.

Along with salads and pizzas, the Italian counter offers a selection of fresh pastas including seafood tomato, and basil besides the risotto with tomato and mix vegetables offering. For more variety, a fresh pot of soup that is changed at each meal is also available.

At the Arabic station be adventures and sample the Emirati special or the selection of hot and cold mezzas as well as that ever popular Shawarma.

There is a vast selection of seafood and steaks available at the steak counter along with fresh roasted Chicken. Also at this station are crisp fresh vegetables and roasted potatoes that are perfect for a Friday roast.

At the Indian section, we found the Paneer Tikka, Murgh Makhani, Mix Vegetable Curry and Chicken Tikka among others.

The Italian counter seemed just the right place to being the evening. Here the Cesar Salad sounded like a great way to start our dinner. Two large wooden bowls are used for the preparation and theses were the biggest bowls I had ever seen. While the salad itself was the right choice made, its preparation was what interested me. It is such an art form that is made to look so simple by the chef. The salad ingredients are all placed in the large bowls and blended with the dressing to create a crisp and health start to any meal.

The beauty of this restaurant is that it allows you to eat your meal in any order you like. Maybe some in your group would prefer to skip starters and go straight on to a main, or you perhaps may want to enjoy it all and have a starter, main course or even more if you are hungry. The swipe card allows you the freedom to move about and decide your choice whenever you are ready.

Being a big lover of Indian food we opted for a serving of Fish Tikka and nan bread. The tenderly cooked fish was rich in flavours of the masalas it was marinated in. A dash of lemon juice gives it a bit of sweet taste which when blended with the spice proved a perfect combination.

After watching the pizza preparation earlier, there seemed no way of skipping it. The pizzas are prepared in a wooden fire oven which is so Italian. The only difficult task was choosing the perfect topping.

Having trouble deciding between two options, the chef was more than accommodating and suggested having the pizza with both. So here I was with a half pepperoni and half seafood pizza which may sound like an unusual combination. But creativity is what you got to be here.

The dessert selection will leave you not only speechless but also eager to jump in and enjoy as much as you can. If you are a chocolate lover than dive head first into the chocolate fountain that proved to be very popular with young and old alike. You can dip strawberries, marshmallows, pastries and even fruits into the fountain and enjoy it.

Once you have had your fill, walk over to the counter located at the exit passage, present your swipe card and pay your bill.

Fridays is special at the Market Café as the outlet which opens at 12.30pm for lunch continues up to midnight. There is a separate section for children which includes a host of games and foods. On other days, the Market Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Currently, Market Café is offering an unresistable offer. Though the dishes are individually priced, the bill stops at Dhs75. So eat as much of what you want and pay just Dhs75.

Visit the Market Café for something unique. Along with its concept, it has staff that are the friendliest I’ve come across. One visit to this place, and you will want to go back again. by Kerry Leigh

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