When Gerald Chevasson, above, arrived 18 months before the 2019 opening of the 279-room W MUSCAT, the owners, Oman Rousism Development Company, OMRAN,,had already decided on Chinese, plus a grill and a three-meal concept, and a destination bar. It was up to Chevasson to develop those concepts and make them work.
Fortunately the Paris-born GM not only has an inbuilt French palate but he has a long professional affinity with F&B (after heading that department at CONRAD LONDON he moved in February 2001 to Starwood and has been with the Marriott family ever since).
He turned the ‘anonymous grill’ concept into Char. This is a steaks-and-more restaurant. What you want where you want it. Sit inside, or outside, on the three-metre wide terrace of the second floor corner restaurant. A light breeze might quickly whipped away a couple of the taupe linen napkins, and at least one of the 35cm-tall paper menus tucked into wood platters, but who cares? An ideal meal might be a flat mound of tuna tartare blended with avocado, pomegranate, black olives, and wearing a loose hat of straw potatoes. Go French, then, with Parisian steak frites, namely an already-sliced 220-gram bavette flank, which is brought with a Laguiole knife, and a metal pot of paper-wrapped skinny frites, all-lettuce salad. Ask the Serbian sommelier Marko for something French and he might well suggest Les Rabassieres 2020 Côtes-du-Rhône Maison Bosachon, which he opens, as a party-piece, with one hand.
What’s the alternative? Well, Omanis seem to like Chinese (another OMRAN hotel, AL BUSTAN PALACE, A RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL, offers regional cuisines at its dinner-only China Mood). W Muscat also offers all-day dining at Kitchen. And judging by its splendid breakfast buffet, which offers, on the cold side alone, some of the best-ever local marinated and grilled vegetables, and creamy lebaneh as an alternative to yoghurt, plus a range of just-baked croissants and petits pains de chocolat, French muscles into international eats, too.
Overall 80% of diners, says Gerald Chevasson, are not staying in the hotel. They might be guests at the neighbouring Intercon, or they could be local residents. The point is that the necessary DNA of gastronomy filters through.
His agenda does not stop. There’s a space under Char, the grill. What will it be? Not Michelin (your worst enemy or, if you work hard, pour money at it and also have lots of luck, your best friend, says Monsieur C. One bet is that it could become a modern French brasserie.
But food, as at least the rest of the word knows, is not everything. W Muscat has gorgeous formal gardens with big swimming pools, and there’s direct access to Shatti Al Qurum Beach. More on that, to come.