Max bang for your buck

Max bang for your buck

As iftar buffets go, the cosmopolitan package at Seasonal Tastes in The Westin Dubai (Habtoor City) is perhaps one of the best places to break bread, Sushmita Bose discovers

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Sushmita Bose

Published: Fri 26 May 2017, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 26 May 2017, 2:00 AM

I'm not a big fan of iftar buffets: there's too much food, way more than I can handle; and then, almost every iftar buffet comes with a heightened sense of déjà vu... There are certain staples that constitute the perfect iftar - hummus and lamb biryani and grilled hammour, for instance - but it's a bit dreary to come across carbon copies of half-hearted non-staples. For a media preview, when I walked into the somewhat unimaginatively-named Seasonal Tastes at the Westin (during non-Ramadan times, it's the hotel's all-day-dining restaurant), I was a bit thrown by the sheer scale (of food), but was soon to discover every corner actually stood for something distinctive.
There was Indian chaat rubbing shoulders with nigiri sushi, an 'Olive Bazaar', a 'Pickle Station' (with Arabic cheeses), and   a 'Raw Bar' (forget the tuna, it boasted of seriously winsome exotica - like sundried tomato fennel): how can that not be deeply satiating, something to gorge on after a day of fasting? Special mention for the desserts: jaw-droppingly good and incredibly varied.
And finally, when we were a bit jaded with "occasion food", someone suggested dal-chawal. The simple yellow dal, infused with lasoon (garlic), was just terrific. Kind of gratifying when five-star hotels get home-style so stunningly well. So there I was, wrapping my iftar mains in the most unusual manner:
having something I usually cook on weekends. At home.

Almost impossible to score top points for an industrial-size iftar spread, but this one keeps food quality several notches above most others. Lovely cheese and charcuterie section, the sushi was great, and I was most impressed to spot a Beijing Duck in the Oriental section.

Navigation is easy, and the way the stations are laid out ensures you don't have to huddle around for too long. One standout observation was the lighting: it was quite perfect. Seasonal Tastes is sprawling, but you don't feel cramped thanks to the layout.

Again, difficult to gauge service levels at a buffet, but it was decent enough. General operations - like clearing plates, getting your juice, etc - were a bit slow. And maybe the cooks at the live kitchen can be encouraged to smile a little more.

A treat for sore eyes! While the food you carry back to your table will be a pile of grub, the buffet setting is colourful and spatial. There is attention paid to details: something as simple as the complements to each dish are placed strategically so there's no need for a scramble.

Value for money
At Dh185 per pop, this, I thought, was fantastic value for money - for the quality and the range of food (and the five-star setting). If you are fasting and likely to be hungry, it's a great opportunity to sample global cuisine without feeling deadbeat.

Overall rating: 4/5
Seasonal Tastes, The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road
Reservations:04 4355577
Timings: From sunset to 11pm daily, during Ramadan
Cost per head: Dh185 (children aged 5 to 12: Dh95; below 5: free)

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