Market Kitchen Iftar Preview - Le Royal Meridien Hotel, Abu Dhabi

I have had the pleasure of attending a few iftar Press previews this season, and when I had the chance to try Market Kitchen's, I cleared my schedule. Market Kitchen has shown itself to be a trendsetter when it comes to its dining concept, be that when running special promotional dinners or its brunch. Naturally, I was expecting something in line with the Market Kitchen 'standard'. What is that standard? A set menu ideal for sharing. In the spirit of Ramadan, isn't the sharing a quintessential element?

The four course set menu has the Market Kitchen standard all over it. Of the starters, there are some familiar dishes from the Market Kitchen stable, but with changes to reflect a connection to an iftar. 

Crispy Halloumi, Tomato and Green Olive Salsa 
Pomegranate Glazed Veal Cheek with Hummus 
Jumbo Shrimp, Lime-Yogurt, Mint and Basil 
Homemade Ricotta with Rhubarb, Charred Bread

The starters, you can be assured, are all winners, but the stand out dish for me is the veal cheek. It is marvellously tender  and with the pomegranate adding sourness and texture, it foils the veal in many ways. The Crispy halloumi has always been a  favourite of mine since I first tried it here, and tonight it reinforces that liking I have for it. I am amazed at the consistency of that crispness. 
Spring Pea Soup, Spiced Yogurt Foam

“MARKET Kitchen” Fattoush Salad, Heirloom Tomato, Sumac Dressing
Lamb Kofta Pizza, Labneh, Rocket and Pine Nuts

The intermediate dishes are served afterwards and my face lights up when I see the Lamb kofta pizza. How well the elements on that pizza go together. What I like about the lamb kofta is that it is not dry, which is often the case when I have it in restaurants. On the contrary, Chef has ensured that it is succulent. In addition, Chef uses strips of parmesan cheese to bring added flavour and balance out the labneh. Pine nuts bring unexpected but delightful crunch. 
Roasted Corn Fed Chicken, Smoked Green Wheat Risotto 
Braised Beef Short Ribs, Grilled Aubergines, Chickpeas Fries 
Sea Bream, Lentil and Quinoa Salad, Pickled Lemon
Sea bream

Of the main courses, the short ribs (not pictured here) are just outstanding. I enjoy the mild sweetness. Finally, the Sea bream. It must have been tempting to put hamour on the menu, but I am pleased they stayed with the sea bream. I think that its skin lends itself naturally to holding flavours. The lentil and quinoa salad complete what for me is my dish of the day.
For those with a very sweet tooth or those who can be quite possessive about their desserts, they will be pleased to know that they do not have to share dessert, as each diner is served a dessert platter. I especially like the Citrus Fruit Salad and how it was paired with dates, the latter being such a culinary icon at iftars, as well as the Creamy Rice Pudding with rosewater. Rosewater, for me, is such an integral part of dessert at an iftar. 
Hallawa Ice Cream Sundae, Caramel Sauce, Candied Pistachio 
Creamy Rice Pudding with Rosewater

Citrus Fruit Salad, Earl Grey Marinated Dates 
Homemade Ghorayeba Cookies

In many ways, Suzanne Husseini's Market Kitchen brunch month served as the precursor to this iftar. It was interesting to see how Chef Jordan has assimilated some of Suzanne's influence while at the same time allowing his own talent to shine through. People who like the Market Kitchen concept will lap up this iftar, while new diners will be impressed. I think it is easy for a restaurant to ignore tradition and boldly create a menu that totally disregards the traditions that surround an iftar. However, to respect that tradition while at the same time, not just adding a  few individual touches, but actually showing innovation and adhering to one's own concept, is what Market Kitchen has achieved. 

Market Kitchen
Le Royal Meridien, Khalifa Street,
Abu Dhabi
02 674 2552

Iftar is priced at 199 AED net per person

Brandon Stoltenkamp