Al Mansour Dhow
Time Out Says
Our evening didn’t get off to the perfect start. Having been shown to seats on the upper deck we made ourselves comfortable, only to be told that our seats were, in fact, downstairs. We still had a decent view and were now closer to the food, but with our chairs perched on a sloping floor, and the engine juddering rambunctiously, seemingly directly below our seats, it was hard to relax. So when a fez-headed oud-doodler began strumming enthusiastically a couple of tables away, it was a welcome musical distraction.
The décor was a little clichéd, quite reasonable for something as touristy as a dinner cruise; the lanterns on our paisley-patterned tablecloths were covered in palm trees and camels. There’s a waist-height shisha lounge at the back of the boat, which was used as a bedroom by one passenger who slept throughout our voyage. On other occasions this part of the vessel is more energised – it doubles as a children’s playpen – but being over 90 centimetres tall, we were unable to test the rocking horse.
Upon the unwrapping of the food everybody watched to see which glutton made the first move. A hungry young boy soon volunteered, and the masses fought for positions around a table full of solid if unspectacular food. The hummos and moutabel were so thick they required cajoling from the serving spoon, but were nicely flavoured. We also sampled some bog-standard potato salad and an irksomely tangy mushroom soup. Elsewhere, strips of cured beef were boisterously salty and impossibly chewy, and the salmon, which was served with spinach, was slightly too dry and lacking in taste.
There were also several successes. The lamb and chicken kebabs, having been flamed to a tee on the upper deck, were excellent, and the Indian food was generally accomplished too; the warm, thick and spicy lentil makhani stood out as a particular winner.
The subtly honeyed veal meatballs in BBQ sauce were also delicious. The countless desserts – all slight variations on a theme of fruit, cream, and general glutinousness – were all tasty, although only the sweet tapioca rice pudding was truly special.
Although our driver was handling a steering wheel taller than he was, he manoeuvred the boat to its docking with seasoned nonchalance. We were feeling pretty relaxed too, having been allotted plenty of time to enjoy the charm of the old cruiser before disembarking. Although the food wasn’t that special, we greatly enjoyed this leisurely cruise.
By Matthew Lee | 01 Feb 2005
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