Friday, December 31, 2010
North Pool Bar: lovely location by the beach, friendly service and very nice food.
Bussola: ridiculous lunch-time prices and poor service.
Avoid this one based on the bad service alone!
My last visit to the Meridien Mina Siyahi complex was a fairly mixed experience but it does provide a good value 'holiday' day, which is just what Simon and I were looking for after the Christmas madness. On this visit we stayed away from the pool where Simon's mother was attacked by a crow last time and planted ourselves firmly by the sea. As the Meridien side of the resort only offers the Horizon pool bar where Kath and I had eaten, we decided to head over to the Westin side for our lunch and see what they had to offer.
Our first stop was Bussola as we had an Entertainer voucher (buy 1 get 1 free) but after sitting down and ordering drinks, we decided to move to the North Pool Bar instead. Bussola operates a strange 2 floor system with only pizzas being served upstairs and only fine dining served downstairs, we had come for dinner once and sat downstairs - some of our party wanted pizza but we were told that was absolutely not allowed! They must use the same kitchen so we thought the attitude was ridiculous, especially as the staff were particularly condescending and unfriendly. Sadly we didn't have a better experience this time. The upstairs was closed so we presumed this meant everything would be available on the downstairs terrace...wrong. Who wants to eat a fine-dining lunch sitting in their swimming costume and pay Dhs 150 or more for it? Initially I thought I'd have a Dhs 70 caprese salad but when I checked, I was told that it was a starter portion and so not enough for a main course. Not only was the entire concept ridiculous for a lunchtime, beach-front restaurant but the staff were very much on their high horses and clearly thought that if you weren't happy to pay over the odds for lunch then you shouldn't bother being there.
Our move to the North Pool Bar was a breath of fresh air as we were warmly welcomed and handed our menus. Prices are still high at around Dhs 70 just for a sandwich and I felt really sorry for all the hotel guests with so little choice of lunch restaurants on-site and such high prices. After my disappointing panini at Carluccio's last week, I thought I'd try again in my search for a mouth-watering tomato and mozarella panini. This time I got what I would call a 'real' panini and it was delicious - a bit soggy at the end that had been enclosed in the cardboard sleeve so not perfect, but still very good. My only small issue was that the chips had a slightly strange taste, perhaps from the oil they had been fried in, so I didn't eat too many of them - a good thing really since I had eaten a fair amount of bread! Simon's club sandwich was excellent and had been cut into small sections similar to Madeleine Cafe, it seems this is the new very useful style for presenting sandwiches.
All in all we had a lovely day but the Bussola experience was very disappointing; they could certainly learn a thing or two about good guest service from the North Pool Bar staff!