Restaurant Review: Sense on the Edge

Six Senses Zighy Bay’s majestic hot spot offers dining to wow the senses at the top of the world
Monday , 21 May 2012
Six Senses Zighy Bay
Six Senses Zighy Bay
A rustic chic ambience
A rustic chic ambience
Stunning terrace vista
Stunning terrace vista

Correct us if we’re wrong, but there’s only one restaurant in this region that sits high on a cliff top commanding spectacular views, and we’ve reiterated many a time in Gourmet the importance of location, location and location.

Operational now for four years, Sense on the Edge at Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman (just across the Dibba border), has brought in a new chef changing its formal approach of seven-course degustation menus to simple, a la carte dining, while also showing off its new decor.

Perched dramatically between two peaks of the Hajar mountains at exactly 293 metres above pristine Zighy Bay, Sense on the Edge delivers a modern gastronomical experience with local flavours, under the helm of bright British culinary talent, Chef James Knight Pacheco.

In the new design, the lowest tier houses plush settees with bold splashes of turquoise – perfect for cocktails and canapés. Upstairs, dinner is served across two storeys. As the weather warms up, it’s time to move inside – floor-to-ceiling windows with the panoramic view, cocktail coves, sustainable wood furniture and natural stone flooring. If 293 meters isn’t high enough, there’s an extra-special, private dining experience – a starlight table for a spot of romance.

And not many will know this, but the restaurant is also open to outside guests with prior reservation – provided you don’t mind the drive there and back.

Chef James may be new to the region, but he’s amassed plenty of culinary expertise working in Michelin star kitchens – Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, Philip Howard’s The Square in Mayfair, and Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. He describes his food as, “inspired by the likes of chefs Raymond Blanc, Rene Redzepi and Philip Howard, I like to think my cuisine is inventive, progressive and intelligent.”

Six Senses’ ethos of sustainable food is evident in that a staggering 60 per cent of the restaurant’s produce is sourced locally from Oman and the UAE, with many of the vegetables and herbs fresh from the resort’s organic garden. Beef is 100 per cent genetically pure wagyu from Australia’s Blackmore Wagyu farm, said to be the best outside of Japan for a couple of reasons – firstly small herds (a maximum of 60 cattle) are fed on grass rather than grain, and secondly, the calves are raised on their mothers’ milk for the first 15 months, and then fed for 550 days on the farm’s secret Japanese diet of grass and local hops. It’s no wonder Thomas Keller buys his beef for three Michelin star restaurant, The French Laundry in California, from this supplier. Meanwhile, veal is sourced from Peter’s Farm in the Netherlands that also raises intimate herds with love and freedom.

“I have created international recipes while integrating rich Arabic spices. The concept is to entice guests with comfortable dishes and complex flavours that continually deliver a new dining experience, particularly to returning diners.”

Quite unusually for a region with unusually warm temperatures, soups are a menu feature in itself at Sense on the Edge with five choices, “You don’t often see soups, so we thought we would offer these to guests, and actually it’s proving to be a very popular choice. Plus it’s a good challenge for the kitchen team to cook cold and hot soups.”

And it’s not just the soups that differentiate this menu from others, but an inventive selection of vegetarian, dairy-free dishes that are integral to the resort’s wellness concept of healthy, sustainable cuisine that’s spurred on by guest demand.

Chef James champions the sous-vide cooking technique, developed in France for foie gras, which uses vacuum sealed bags to poach sealed foods at low temperatures. It can be replicated at home, but it’s a little fussy, so in this feature we have picked three of our favourite dishes – Spicy Scallops, Lamb and Apricot and Banana and Date Parfait – which Chef James has simplified exclusively for Gourmet readers.

So why does Sense on the Edge qualify for Gourmet’s Restaurant of the Month? “First the location is unrivalled, second, the food prepared here is intelligent and progressive. We never sit back and think this dish is great – we are always looking to push forward. Last, the senses have a huge part within the cuisine. Everything has been thought about very carefully, so that the diner leaves with a memorable experience.” We couldn’t agree more.

Sense on the Edge Menu
Starters:
Lobster and mango; scallops; beetroot and goat’s curd; chicken and pork; eggs on toast
Soups:
Gazpacho; bouillabaisse; garden custard; carrot and coriander; apple and onion
Meats:
Suckling pig; veal; lamb and apricot; Blackmore beef; poulet de Bresse
Seafood:
Monkfish; John Dory; seabass; tuna; scallops
Vegetarian:
Romano pepper; potato risotto; wild mushrooms; aubergine; onion and garlic
Dessert:
Coconut and mango; chocolate; figs; banana and dates; Mojito

*Diners can mix and match as they please. Three courses for OMR35 (Dhs335) or five courses for OMR55 (Dhs525).

Info: Sense on the Edge, Six Senses Zighy Bay is open to inhouse and outside guests with prior reservations. Dinner from Thursday to Saturday, www.sixsenses.com/sixsenseszighybay.

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