When we turned up at Eat Street today, on its first lunch shift since soft-opening last week, it was packed, and we were hard-pressed to find a table, and so slid into one of the booths that hadn't yet been cleaned after the last occupants left. Must have been kids here, I thought, when I saw the proliferation of dirty napkins on the seat. I was wrong. Grown-ups will get messy here, too, which, with street food, is a good thing, the proof in the pudding. Next time I go, I will ask for a kilo of tissue on arrival. And I will go again. Eat Street is awesome.
Usually, in Oman, 'international cuisine' either means a boring-ass buffet, or a roadside restaurant covering all its bases but not doing anything particularly well. Eat Street's underpinning street food concept lifts it above the dull, and the desperate. The menu is exciting and it makes sense - plus, it is a genius idea in that they will never want for new dishes. They have every street in every country from which to source inspiration. Their current lunch menu, we were told, is limited compared to the evening one. And already they've dipped into a whole load of disparate cultures and made it work.
So what did we have? I refer to my notes, photos, and the stains on my face: the Chang-Mai coconut chicken burger, the Bondi burger, the Canadian poutine, the Ukrainian langos, the Spanish churros and the Parisian crepes. There are also a dozen or so 'pizzas' on offer - the inverted commas are for the Italian purists reading this - which boast toppings such as gnocchi, Caribbean salsa, and hummus. I don't know. Who can really say what is a pizza, and what is bread with things on top of it? I'm too full at the moment to proffer an opinion. I will say though, also for the purists, that the Canadian I lunched with proclaimed the poutine to be very tasty, but decidedly NOT poutine. It's a curd issue, apparently.
As for the rest, it was well-presented - in supercool surroundings and a buzzy atmosphere - and really, really tasty. My chicken burger was perfect - succulent, bursting with flavour and texture, and it left a fragrant crust around my mouth. The star of the day, though, and the biggest surprise, was the Ukrainian langos. For those of you unfamiliar with Ukrainian cuisine, I am now able to condescend to you by sharing that this is a dish usually served with the national salad, on New Year's Eve; deep-fried bread, made from a special dough, and stuffed with sour cream, cheddar, and mozzarella. Just a tiny crunch on the outside, delightfully light and gooey within. It's the cheapest dish on the menu, too, and definitely my favourite. And the churros were lovely too - there's clearly someone in the Eat Street kitchen who knows their way around a deep-fryer. I could have done with a little more sauce, and some saltiness in the caramel dip, but I'm nit-picking. Speaking of which, the bill comes to your table tucked inside a copy of the Lonely Planet. It's a nice touch; it celebrates the global nature of the food, but I only worked that out after the change came back in a Tanzania edition...we'd been handed the tab in Syria, from 1999, which was a bit confusing and kind of depressing to flick through. Tanzania was much more cheery. It's got a picture of a giraffe on it.
Eat Street is in MQ, next to Crafty Kitchen, and it's open for lunch 12pm to 3pm, and dinner 6pm to 11pm. They only just opened so remember to go in with a little patience and before the worst of your hunger hits - the staff, although admirably friendly, helpful and informative, were pretty stretched today at 1.30. And take some wipes and a mirrored compact for after.