There’s something about familiar dining when you’re far away from home, is there not? Therefore, I was delighted to see Middle Eastern fare at Cargo, the St. Regis Vommuli Maldives resort’s Middle Eastern restaurant. Set under a canopy of trees, details have not gone unnoticed here, and there is both familiar Arabic music, as well as large outdoor cooling systems in place. The name of the restaurant comes from the large cargo container (with its own back story related to the Titanic) which serves as the kitchen, located directly at the entrance. Tables are arranged in an intimate manner — spread out to give privacy for dining couples. Menus are completely digital. While most of the drinks selections are available via tablet at the resort, Cargo is the only restaurant to have an entirely digital selection.
A look at the menu yielded many traditional Arabic mezze and mains. Diving right in, we ordered Fattoush, Shanqlesh, Falafel, and (what else?) Chicken Schwarama. While the plating might not be exactly what I was expecting, the flavors delivered (with the exception of the falafel which had a bit more cinnamon than I was used to). I loved the deconstructed nature of the Shanqlesh (and ending up adding some of the aged local cheese to nearly all of the rest of the mezze), and the generous portion Fattoush was crispy and crunchy (just the way I prefer it).
Main dishes were also as to be expected, with the highlight of the meal the Kastaleta Motaffayeh (oven baked lamb chops with potato, olive oil, garlic, and lemon). Served rustically in a deep, piping hot dish (as was my Chicken Motaffayeh), the sauce in both dishes was wonderfully tangy and savory. I might have expected a rice dish of some kind to accompany the proteins, but both could easily stand alone. As with the construction of some of the mezze, the presentation of both Motaffayeh’s was a bit surprising (but perhaps most importantly, there was no impact on the taste). Too full from our large order of mezze and filling mains, we neglected to order something sweet to finish the meal. However, guests can expect traditional dishes like Um Ali and Mohalabeah to be available.
My suggestions to the venue are limited — I think perhaps there should be shisha on offer (it would be a fun location to enjoy a bit of hubbly bubbly). Additionally, I might reconsider rearranging the menu so that all of the Motaffayeh dishes were grouped together (as they are all offered with the same sauce, this would prevent any group from ordering plates that were too similar to each other). And finally, the table we selected was relatively dark — a few fairy lights in the trees would assist in adding to the atmosphere.
Given the more intimate ‘pop up’ style of this venue and limited seating, advance reservations are highly recommended.
A to Za’atar was a guest of the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli resort. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.