The Qasr Garden

Ideal for summer evenings

The Qasr Garden combines all the ATICO restaurants in one. (Photos: Handouts from ATICO)
When the topic of restaurants comes up in conversation, those who are quite familiar with pioneers in the field of restaurants and hospitality cannot help but think of the ATICO Fakhreldin Group and their chain of restaurants.اضافة اعلان

I have always been fond of some of their restaurants and I reviewed Yoshi and its outstanding sushi. I usually take my mother out for a mother-son catch-up date at Vinaigrette, and Copas is my go-to place for the to-die-for lychee martinis, tapas, and happy hour.

Last week, I decided to take a long lunch break and go for a quick bite at one of their restaurants. I was not in the mood for a relaxed Yoshi vibe, but I still wanted sushi as well as other food items, so to hit two birds with one stone: I ended up going to the Qasr Garden.

The Qasr Garden combines all their restaurants in one, which is a brilliant idea if you think about it. Since they have a big market share of Amman’s top restaurants, they might just as well combine them all in one place.

The garden is a spacious outdoor venue in the Shmeisani area. As you walk in, you notice the multiple seating areas with couches, high tops, and tables. There is a bar in the middle of the restaurant and a kitchen area on the side. Being highly indecisive and spoiled for choice, it took me a moment to settle on a seat at the high tables by the bar.

When you go to any restaurant before rush hour, you get to see the employees there still getting ready for the coming battle: preparing their stations, organizing themselves, and arraying themselves on the battlefield. I watched with amusement, appreciating the crucial nature of the display; one that must be repeated for every dinner service.

While waiting for my friend to arrive, I admired the bar and noticed a sign advertising the “cocktail of the day” featuring watermelon and mint — refreshing for hot summer days.

As a food reviewer, I took the opportunity to sample items from the Nub, Trattoria, Vinaigrette and Yoshi. We ended up ordering the house garden salad, fried rock shrimp, a chicken avocado sandwich, seafood linguine, sizzling beef, and, of course, dessert.

As soon as you sit at the table and order your beverage, they serve you peanuts in their shell to nibble on, which is quite entertaining.

When presented with a wide variety of salads, I recommend ordering the house salad, which gives the restaurant an opportunity to present its creativity. The house garden salad I ordered consisted of iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, tomato cubes, and olives, all tossed in a pomegranate molasses dressing. The dressing balanced out the ingredients well.

The rock shrimp was an enjoyable appetizer: the crust was well seasoned and the shrimp themselves were a beautiful brown color. A Japanese spicy sauce complemented the dish well, and I found myself dipping more than just the shrimp in it.

I decided to go for the less popular option when ordering the chicken sandwich. It was not that special, but as we were sharing a number of dishes, I did not mind.

The spicy chicken was grilled and served with avocadoes served on multicereal brown bread. The avocado lacked sufficient seasoning, something that could have improved the sandwich. The chicken, too, was underseasoned. Overall, the sandwich lacked a satisfying crunch. The chicken could have been crispier or the bread could have been lightly toasted. If there is a delay between toasting and serving, adding some lettuce to the sandwich could offer that needed crunch.

If it were up to me, I would brine the chicken before grilling it to ensure it is well-seasoned throughout. A homemade spice mix or chipotle spice-infused oil could be brushed onto the chicken before and during the grilling process. I would toast the bread and add some variety in the form of sundried tomatoes, mixed greens, or picked red onion. Finally, I would season the avocado well — salt brings life to food, enhancing its natural flavors.

Next came the linguine: the pasta was cooked just right and the creaminess of the rose sauce complemented the dish. The amount of seafood in the dish was filling; the dish had a rustic and light feel to it. I thought the fried basil used as a garnish was a little outdated.

I ordered two rolls of sushi just to give the mix an eastern twist with Japanese cuisine. I ordered the “Green Warrior” roll and the “Crazy California”. The flavors of the sushi were excellent, and the freshness of the seafood enhanced the experience immensely. Overall, the presentation of the rolls was pleasant, although it looked like food coloring had been used with the Green Warrior roll.

The sizzling beef, cubed tenderloin, was served with pickles to nibble on. The quality of the beef was excellent, and it was both well-seasoned and tender. I felt that the dish needed some sauce: an aglio e olio — garlic chili olive sauce popular in Italian cuisine — or a chimichurri sauce would have paired with the beef nicely.

Despite eating all the food we had ordered, we still had room for desert, which I always say goes straight to the heart. The chef recommended a chocolate molten dessert served with vanilla ice cream. Although traditional, who does not like a chocolate ice-cream mess that combines both hot and cold items on the plate?

The Qasr Garden is a great place for friends to meet up, especially if some of them are picky eaters or if some of you are craving a specific cuisine. There is no guesswork involved: the restaurants involved are well established and have been serving excellent food for years and the waiters are friendly and hospitable. I would recommend taking the time to familiarize yourself with the options to make sure you do not miss out on something special.

Make the most out of the summer weather before winter drives us back into the warmth of indoor dining.

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