Iftar - Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan Rotana, Abu Dhabi

I was lucky to experience Iftar recently at the beautifully located Khalidiya Palace, a Rotana property. While I was there to enjoy Iftar, I was taken in by the eye catching landscaping. Worth visiting just to see this, I thought.

Gorgeous setting. 
Some nice views
Dates of course.
The iftar is hosted in a tent that is comfortably air conditioned and as we walked in, there was already a growing sense of expectation as people prepared to break their fast on this first day of Ramadan. The tent is a nice size indeed, and can accommodate up to 300.  On being seated, I immediately got up to enjoy the view. Through the windows I was able to enjoy views of the sea. Very tranquil. I walked around the tent and was impressed with the spread in terms of variety and practicality. As far as the latter goes, desserts, drinks, salads and mains were spread out in a way that meant there was no major crowding at any one place at a  time.

TV screens for entertainment.  
Various seating options. 

There are servers a-plenty, and in the time that we would be there, would have the pleasure of being waited upon by some  very warm waiters.

Juice is a big part of an iftar, and I made my way to their drinks area to see what was on offer. As expected, it was a nice selection: Qamar edin, karkade, jeleb and thamar hindi. Of course, to break your fast, they also had labaan. I enjoyed the thamar hindi and karkade, the former for its sweetness and the latter for its tangy taste.

Fabulous presentation

Tasty baba ganouj
There was a very nice cold mezze and salad station, with fresh vegetables used to good effect to create a feeling of natural goodness and abundance. I found the baba ghanouj particularly fresh and tasty. On the main side, there was,  as predicted, something for everyone. Dishes as diverse as harees (perfect for Ramadan)sirloin steak in peppercorn sauce, pasta alfredo, vegetable makhani, steamed vegetables and of course, the centre piece, the lamb ouzi. While I found the lamb surprisingly dry and overcooked, I enjoy the rice which is delicately flavoured. I was pleasantly surprised to see a dish you don't see often, pan fried barramundi with lemon and butter sauce on the side; the latter no doubt a favourite of Australian executive chef.

Lamb ouzi.

Of course, the dessert. Haagen Dasz ice cream for the kids as well as some Middle Eastern favourites are part of a lovely dessert section. My favourites were the halawal bil jeben and of course the um ali. The um ali, especially, was good - not overly sweet.

Variety of desserts 
Part of the nice Middle eastern dessert selection.
The carrot cake was the best surprise
In the end, the waiting staff did very well: enthusiastic and willing to please: Faraz, RJ, Adeel were fantastic. Finally, the major challenge for us though, was the smoking environment. We found ourselves surrounded by smokers. I have just become spoiled by many restaurants who have a non-smoking policy. There is a simple solution - create a smoking and non-smoking area if you need to placate your market - especially for the benefit of children.  Other than this, it was a good way to start Ramadan. A wide variety of dishes and drinks with timely service as well as a spirit of happiness in the people around  me,  made it a fitting way to begin the month.

The lowdown

Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan Rotana, 
(close to Etihad Towers) 
Abu Dhabi
02 657 0000

Adults 170 Dhs
Kids 85 Dhs
Under 7s free