The first impression I got when we walked into the ballroom of the JW Marriott Marquis was that of a large multi-ethnic, multi-cultural family happy to be in the same home. The warm ambience of the ballroom converted into a large lounge, the smiles on the faces of the people and the welcoming attitude of the staff gave us an idea of what lay ahead.
But nothing prepared us for the massive iftar spread of more than 200 dishes available at Al Fanous. Deriving its name from the lantern that is seen so often during Ramadan, the lights and the ambience at Al Fanous give it a special feel. If you want more private settings, the majlis areas (complete with TV screens) will help you relax even more.
We began with the traditional Ramadan juices, Kamer Eldine and Tamer Hindi, and then made our way into the adjacent large hall for the food.
With the intention to go slow on the food so that we could try a range of what was available, we tried the meat kibbeh, cheese rukakat (akawi cheese spring roll) and spinach fatayer.
The pancakes at the Peking Duck station were definitely worth a try and prepared our stomachs for heavier stuff. There was a sushi station, wild salmon boards and smoked meat. We tried the beef tenderloin which was roasted just right along with roasted potatoes and creamed spinach.
The main course was a massive spread with a choice for every kind of palette. In fact, choosing from the Arabic, Indian, Western and Asia main courses was not the easiest of things to do.
We tried the mixed grill and baked fish as well as butter chicken with fresh Indian bread and lamb biriyani. The penne pasta (veloute, Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs) provided a soft, smooth touch to the delectable assortment for the evening.
We left the whole lamb ouzi untouched.
From the crowd at the dessert section, it was obvious that the diners had kept space for the sweet range on offer. It was well worth the wait. We picked up assorted baklava, blueberry cheese cake, apple cinnamon tart, toffee pudding and fresh fruit slices. The Turkish ice-cream corner was a favourite for the evening
The experience at Al Fanous left me wondering if anything more could be offered for an iftar. A truly satisfying experience for the entire family.
Where: Al Fanous at Dubai Ballroom, JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai.
Price: Dh215 per person.
Timings: Sunset until 8.30pm.