Neat, clean and oozing with positive vibes, a black facade, white tiles, two counters displaying the fresh produce and French style decoration... That's Paul at the Muscat Grand Mall, known around Oman for their tasty breakfast.
Why Paul? Because I like to compare the same brands around the world for the differences between one franchise and another. France is too fast and commercial, Lebanon has service issues and the bread is a bit too chewy, now for Muscat... Expected better.
The welcoming impressed me. A smile on their face, the staff makes you feel home. Six tables are set outside in this mall that has large aisles, as if you were sitting in a terrace. The Paul sign, beautifully lit, opens up on a cafe with tables in front of the counter. Like they do it all around the world, it's all about opening up your appetite and displaying their masterpieces.
On the menu, written in French, English and Arabic:
- The Parisian breakfast
- The continental breakfast
- The complete breakfast
- Stuffed croissants
And we ordered:
- A selection of mini macaroons: Some are sweet, others are too crunchy, Paul is surely not specialized in macaroons, but those are not too bad.
- Eggs Benedict: Bread cut in circles -not English muffins- topped with salmon and a poached egg. An over cooked poached egg that's not molten inside, covered with a bit of sauce, a flavorful sauce that lacks the hollandaise spirit. A chewy bread lacking the chewiness one expects, the over cooked egg and the sauce. It's a breakfast plate one would enjoy but surely not an eggs Benedict I'd recommend. The plate comes with wedged potatoes and lettuce.
- Crepe Complete: Smoked turkey and cheese in a crepe dough topped with a fried egg, served with Provencal tomatoes and mixed green salad. A crepe with cheese and ham, molten-then-hardened cheese and an egg that's too oily. One bite was enough and I had to stop. It's too heavy for me and lacked juiciness and finesse. This plate comes with lettuce and grilled tomatoes on the side.
- Halloumi sandwich: Sliced halloumi cheese, fresh tomato slices, cucumbers, fresh rocket leaves, mint mayonnaise and olive and thyme baguette bread. That's a good one. A juicy sandwich with grilled halloumi cheese and some vegetables stuffed in Paul's chewy bread.
- Now for the croissants, the chocolate one is far from any croissant I've ever had in France. Bread and two chocolate sticks. Where is the flakiness and airiness in this pain au chocolat? Way below standard.
- Prepare decent French pain au chocolat.
- Make the eggs molten from the inside.
- Hollandaise is what a hollandaise should be, not a mayonnaise-textured sauce.
I expected more... from Paul, a famous French name...