The Casbah is a new fine-dine offering from Westin, Hyderabad. This premium Mediterranean lounge, nestled in a corner of the second level terrace, offers a breathtaking setting for spending a lazy evening. The décor, which is distinctively Arabic with horseshoe arches, Moroccan lamps, and curtains, exudes elegance.
I was invited to a Zomato meetup held at Casbah, and had the opportunity to taste some of the finest offerings from their menu. We started off with a Cold Mezze platter that had Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Muhammara, Labneh, Pickled Olives, Grilled Paneer, and Pita Bread. I typically don’t enjoy Bana Ganoush, since I am not a big fan of eggplant, but this was simply amazing. Muhammara, a spicy pepper dip, also went really well with the pita bread. The Hummus, however, disappointed in both taste and texture.
Next up, were a couple of salads – Tabouleh and Greek Salad. I preferred the Greek Salad, which was a mixture of tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and olives with crumbled feta cheese, but there was nothing wrong with the Tabouleh either. It was a light and refreshing mixture of seasoned bulgar wheat with tomatoes, parsley, and olive oil.
The other vegetarian appetisers that were served to us were Paneer Shashlik, Falafel in a Pita pocket, and Spinach Fatayar (somewhat similar to a Spinach Samosa). None of them did much to impress, but the rather dry Falafel did stick out as particularly disappointing.
Non-vegetarian appetisers included Chicken Souvlaki (Chicken Skewers with Tzatziki), Grilled Prawns, Kofte Kebab, and Shish Kebab. All of the non-vegetarian starters were more or less on the mark. My favourite was the Kofte Kebab, sticks of char grilled mine lamb, that was both juicy and oozing with flavour. The Shish Kebab (chunks of grilled lamb) also has the potential to be a pretty impressive dish, but on the day, too much of salt ruined it. The grilled prawns were perfectly grilled, but I wish the chef had done more with this dish.
For the main course, we were seved Samak Hara (Grilled fish served in a tomato sauce), and Saffron and Dry fruits Pilaf. The pilaf smelled brilliant and paired really well with the delicate grilled fish. The Samak Harra was dominated by the flavour of tomato sauce, but the hint of garlic and onion and pepper in it made it a real beauty.
I also sampled a couple of cocktails during the night. First up was Casbah – the signature cocktail of the restaurant. It’s an intriguing concoction of white rum, pineapple, tender coconut, and caramel that honestly surprised me with just how good it was. The Wasabi Mix is not for the faint-hearted, it packs quite a lot of Vodka along with a hint of Wasabi.
For the final course of the night, we were served Baklava, Umm Ali, and Rose and Dates Sorbet. I have always loved the Sorbets served in the Seasonal Taste buffet and was really looking forward to the Rose and Dates. While this sorbet didn’t quite succeed in bettering the more traditional ones served in the buffet, it did impress with its distinctive salty flavour profile. However, a dominantly salty sorbet would better serve as a palate cleanser than a dessert. Normally, the Baklava manages to steal the spotlight almost anywhere it shows up. It’s a fabulous Mediterranean delight with crunchy layers of pastry stuffed with honey and nuts. However, Westin’s twist on Baklava left me craving for the richer version that’s available in many other places in the city. The dessert that really made its mark was the Umm Ali. I’ve had this humble bread pudding at many a place, but rarely has it been as good as in Casbah. The sweetness was just right, and the harmony of the cream, the pastry, and the dry fruits was perfect.
The service through the night was rather lackluster. The food was served in starts and stops, waiters needed to be hunted down to get water on the table, and things, in general, moved pretty slowly. The food showed signs of promise but was a far cry from the kind of perfection I would expect from Westin. Casbah is positioned as a premium lounge, and that shows in the price tags. A meal for two will cost around four thousand bucks. While the lounge offers a spectacular atmosphere that you will fall in love with, the food still has a way to go. However, if you want to enjoy a Mediterranean fine-dining experience, Casbah is one of the few options available in the city.