Iftar - Fairways, The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa, Abu Dhabi

Fairways, the all day dining restaurant at The Westin in Abu Dhabi,  is simply a gorgeous restaurant. The soft, earthy tones that greet you are so harmonious with the rest of the hotel. Relaxing and peaceful. The sound of water falling adds to this sense of tranquility. It seems like a great choice for an iftar.

This is a grand iftar in the true sense of the word. In many ways it feels like a scaled down version of their legendary Bubbalicious brunch in the sense that it pretty much occupies a similar floor space.
Best seats in the house - but options abound.
So many elements combine to create a sense of calm.
Again, the earthy natural colours - tranquility.
As I walk to the restaurant, I see a cold mezze station on my left - different mezze options. On my right, as I walk, is a serene dining area with water falling on either side. Very nice indeed, and I have not even been shown my seat yet. Already there is a lively atmosphere as people wait to break their fast and those who did not fast, also wait as a sign of respect. The spirit of Ramadan is alive.

As I am shown to my seat, I notice the variety of seating options. There are high chairs, booths and your more standard options - making it an ideal venue for all kinds of groups.  However, I get the feeling that there are just  a couple table tables too many where I am seated, making it feel a bit claustrophobic. Be that as it may, the breaking of the fast is signalled on the tastefully placed television set and people head to the buffet area.

Part of a great date spread.
A sense of abundance permeates the iftar.
I visit the dates area first and am in awe as I notice 9 different types of dates, including madjool Saudi dates. I notice camel milk on offer but opt for the more more traditional labaan. The iftar highlights the strengths of Fairways as a restaurant. After the dates and labaan, I head to the seafood station. The word "fresh' comes straight to mind. Fresh and very inviting.

Cured salmon .
Part of the blue crab on offer. 
As noteworthy as the seafood station is, the cold mezze station is immensely popular. On investigation I can see why. There are 19 different mezze on offer all beautifully presented. I try some typical mezze, and I enjoy the baba ghanouj and hummus immensely.

My friends, meanwhile, can't stop lavishing praise on the iftar. A common thread in their comments is  not the quantity of the dishes, but the taste. I concur. This is evident in some of the dishes that I try. The centrepiece of an iftar at numerous places, usually ouzi, is replaced this night by the  visually arresting fish sayadia which is really tasty - perfectly spiced, with the right moisture, while the crunch from the nuts rounds it off nicely. Next I try the tagine barouk, and while  a friend is put off by the caramelised onions, I like it. I think the sweetness is a welcome intrusion on the rest of the savoury dish. Finally, the kebbeh bil labaan  brings me a delicious sour and saltiness that proves my friends' assertion that the iftar is big not only on dishes, but flavours!

Grilled eggplant
The asparagus - crunchy.
This reviewer tried the live pasta station.
In the meantime,  I find myself in two minds regarding the service. It is near text book except for a few things, but that ironically is what is amiss. Water is topped up without prompting and there is generally a good sense of anticipating most needs. Plates are cleared timeously too. So why the ambivalence? Well, when you follow the training manual too closely, there is very little engagement and more importantly, soul. However, I look at my friends and see that they are really unequivocally pleased with the service. A smile breaks on my face.

Creme caramel 
Finally, dessert really offers an incredible variety. Of course there are the usual Middle Eastern classics like the kanafeh and um ali, but there is also a marvelous selection of more traditional Western desserts including more than 10 different ice cream flavours. However, I go with the kanafeh and the um ali. The commonality in these two dishes is the lack of overindulgence on sweetness. This reviewer loved it. The top of the kanafeh is light and crispy and the cheese has just the right stretchiness. As for the um ali, not too soggy and not too firm. Perfect. A friend and I are in agreement that it is the winner of the sweets.

In closing, the iftar at Fairways offers what you would expect from an iftar at The Westin, but provides  some welcome extras. The variety of seating options offers something different which directly impacts on your experience.  Also, the buffet offers a wonderful balance between Middle Eastern favourites and Western dishes which offer more than just quantity; there is quality on the plates. Finally, the soothing colours in the restaurant genuinely contribute to a relaxed feeling, making it a perfect iftar venue, especially for those who had had a day of fasting; it is very calming. It is an extension of The Westin philosophy of how your mood can be lifted by treating the senses to calming influences. Even at an iftar where there is the shuffling of feet, occasional dropping of silver by guests and the sound of china, you feel placid. Peace.

The low down

Fairways Iftar,
The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa
For reservations, call 02 616 9999 
or click here: http://bit.ly/1qAiFSh

Brandon Stoltenkamp