Somehow we missed the news that the new Opera Mall will feature a Bice restaurant. This is good news. Although they are a chain, Bice restaurants are renowned for there good quality, upscale Italian cooking. If they get things right here in Muscat, they should be able to compete with the likes of Tuscany and Capri Court.It is to be hoped, of course, that this restaurant is going to be licensed.
Now that the Opera Mall is apparently beginning to shape up, it is a fun exercise to think up a short wish list of venues that we would love to see in this mall.
A chain of restaurants and foodshops, initiated by the Italian-British cook Antonio Carluccio. Simple, but well made Italian food, in a relaxed setting. There are already three Carluccio restaurants in Dubai, where they are a success. Next to the food, we are also looking forward to the foodshop, where you can find a fine selection of products, from olive oils to pasta, and from vongoles to pesto. Definitely something that is still missed in Muscat.
2. Jones the Grocer
More or less the same setup as Carluccio's, but with a bonus: an incredible cheese selection. This Australian concept has expanded to Abu Dhabi, and will soon see its first outlet in Dubai. We've been to the original Abu Dhabi outlet, and it has a great, lively atmosphere. Great for lunch, or just a quick cup of coffee. The food store offers a wide selection of products, including coffee (and coffee machines), jams, and much more. The seperate cheese room is a great experience. You'll be able to buy a variety of high quality cheese, unlike anything else available here in Oman. If Jones would decide to expand to Muscat, we will be regulars.
3. Bistro Vue
If Shannon Bennett still doesn't want to end his Omani adventure after the closure of Vue, we can very much recommend him to re-launch the Vue brand in a bistro setting. He has one already in Australia. Classic French dishes, served with the Bennett flair, but without the pretence (and price tag) of the Vue restaurant, as it was in the Al Bustan Hotel.
4. Oscar's Vine Society
Although we had a fair bit of criticism during our visit to this Dubai wine bar some two years ago, we would still like to see it (or something like it) here in Oman. Basicly, it is just a relaxed place, with a decent selection of wines by the glass and per bottle. Something we don't have here in Oman, and that we would love to see. A possibility for a liqour license is quite obviously a must, but the same goes for Bice as far as we are concerned.
It is probably too good to be true to have any of these here, but we can all dream, can't we?