Melissa Nazareth experiences a culinary feast of flavourful, contemporary dishes created using simple ingredients at WU Restaurant & Lounge, The Art Hotel & Resort.
On entering WU Restaurant & Lounge, the first thing I notice is how spacious it is. There’s a well-lit seating area with a bar on the left. This section leads to an inner area separated by a stained-glass doorway, which has a decorative wave pattern. An outdoor dining space overlooks the private beach, offering a beautiful view. The contemporary interior is marked with Mediterranean influences: an expanse of blue and white punctuated by verdant indoor foliage. A large mural in the same colour palette catches my eye. There’s groovy music playing and we’re tempted to dance but settle for foot-tapping.
Our luncheon adventure begins with The Art of Mezze served alongside some flat bread. The platter features staples such as hummus – traditional and pistachio – baba ghanoush with walnuts, beetroot mutabel, tabbouleh, fattoush with halloumi cheese, vine leaves with burghul wheat, lamb kibbeh, spinach fatayer and Akkawi cheese rolls. While every item is on point, I particularly enjoy the nutty variation of the good ol’ hummus. It’s the perfect dip for my kibbeh, which is crisp on the outside and stuffed with juicy minced lamb and pine nuts.
Next, comes Salmon Tartar, a tower of buttery avocado and rich, citrusy salmon garnished with peppery rocket leaves and salty capers. The balance of flavours, colours and textures in this refreshing dish make it a hit at our table. After this, we enjoy Roasted Goat Cheese, a dish of cheesy discs topped with microgreens. We eat them with the accompanying roasted pumpkin and caramelised figs – a burst of sharp, salty, sweet and smoky all at once. Our last appetiser is the Lobster and Avocado Salad. Bitesized chunks of the crustacean, de-shelled and poached, are perched on a drizzle of sour cream and smoked paprika. The creamy sauce elevates the sweetness of the bouncy lobster and the silken avocado complements this star of the plate.
Having whet our appetites, we move on to the mains. Making a grand entry is another treasure of the ocean, Chargrilled Octopus. I’ve tried this protein only twice before so, I’m looking forward to this dish of seared and smoky octopus, roasted potatoes, tomatoes and olives. Surprise! Octopus isn’t chewy if it’s cooked right. I can hardly tell if I’m still eating lobster because that’s how tender it is. It takes on the flavours of the salty olives, tangy tomatoes and earthy thyme. Next, comes Citrus Infused Salmon, a fillet of Norwegian salmon baked to perfection. The skin is crispy and the flesh, flaky. It’s served with a side of comforting mashed potatoes and a bouquet of grilled asparagus. The protein is anointed with a light, zingy sauce. I can taste lemon and orange zest. Complementing this flavour is the sweetness from wildflower honey.
Adding some turf to our surf is the tenderloin steak with a side of onion rings, grilled vegetables and sautéed potatoes. You could ask for fries, mashed potatoes or gratin instead. We douse our steak with the mushroom sauce, which adds depth to each meaty mouthful. Black pepper, Béarnaise sauce or herb jus, made from the juices of the meat, are other options. Cooked to medium, the steak is succulent and juicy.
Our meaty affair continues with Herb Crusted Rack Of Lamb, a rustic dish. The light coating elevates the flavour of the meat and the bright summer vegetables of the ratatouille add a pop of colour, making the dish visually appealing. We wash down our feast with unique creations from the bar. Smoky WU, a refreshing mocktail, comes with a side of showmanship – on lifting the dome, a cloud of smoke dissipates to reveal this concoction, which I truly enjoy. The smoky aftertaste gives it an edge. We also try WU’s signature Green Fairy, with undertones of green apple, and the spicy, tomato juice-based Picanto.
Almond Crunch Inspiration and Grand Chocolate Delice await us at the finish line. The former is a chewy, nutty wafer balanced on a scoop of vanilla ice cream, floating in a pool of cream blanketed with chocolate dust. If you want to enjoy the real flavour of this dish, try a bite with all the elements including the orange zest that sneaks up on you as you savour the taste. The latter is a finger of chocolate mousse on a ‘crunch’ base laid on top of berry dust. The flavours are quite rich, making it a must-try for chocolate lovers. All in all, a great and tasty experience.
WU hosts exciting themed nights during the week, such as Art Sushi Night, Steak Night and special nights for the ladies, the Queens Nights.