There’s something about ballrooms that’s a little impersonal. Maybe it’s the fact that my brain automatically associates them with one of two extremes — conferences (cold and detached) and weddings (full-on and hectic). Or maybe it’s just that the rounded tables are stacked too close to one another to offer any real privacy. In any case, they’re not my favourite place to be.
Alas, ballroom iftars are a tradition during Ramadan season, as buffets pop up in every corner of the city. So it was refreshing to head down to the popular Asateer tent in Atlantis and realise that not all ballroom settings feel so formal.
Make no mistake, Asateer is still considered an extravagant tent. But instead of the usual prescribed distribution of rounded tables, there’s booths, as well — circular ones that give you just enough seclusion, with little cushions that make you feel more at home. Whether you stay just for the food, or hang out for shisha during their suhoor (iftar is non-smoking), it’s a nice, cosy spot for friends and family.
The food itself is delicious and plentiful. It was served hot, which seems like an inane observation to make, but it can sometimes be a novelty with buffets that stay out for too long before guests can begin to eat.
There was an overwhelming amount of choice. Whether it’s the standard mezza station, the mini shawarma pitas (my personal favourite — garlic, pickle and chicken all in one bite), the sliced manakeesh section, the contemporised felafel station (complete with tahini fondue and a side bar for foul moudames and all its trappings), or even the desert table that had two different kinds of knafeh, halawet il jibn, luqaimat, various cakes, Umm Ali, sticky toffee pudding and an ice cream station, there was so much to choose from.
That’s not even thinking about the main courses, which ranged from kebbeh in yoghurt and vegetarian lasagne to mixed grill to several traditional lamb dishes. It’s definitely an extensive menu — the kind where you want to measure out your portions in order to get a little taste of everything.
If you’re looking for a special night out, maybe with relatives you don’t see often or all your busy bee friends, Asateer is a worthy contender.
What: Iftar at Asateer Tent in Atlantis, the Palm
Credit card: Yes
Packages: Dh210 per person
Iftar timings: 6.30pm to 8.30pm