The buildings jostled against one another, a multitude of colours, different shapes, it almost feels like we’re a little Manhattan: this is the spectacular view of Male’ from Farivalhu Restaurant’s terrace atop the Central Hotel in the heart of the capital.
The restaurant has a seating area on the inside and a spacious terrace which is often the venue of wedding receptions and other events. Opting for the best view, we sit in the smoking area with a couple of friends, an elevated area with seating for 18. We take our time ordering main course – so spoiled are we for choice, with over 300 dishes of Indian, Italian,Chinese and vegetarian cuisine.
The drinks arrive and look appetising: Mango smoothie decorated with a tiny umbrella and a maraschino cherry, papaya juice in a fancy glass and chocolate milkshake.
However the consistency and flavours prove shocking, to say the least. The mango smoothie is sour and watery, and the chocolate milkshake tastes like milk tea.
Ever optimistic, we await the main course. Fish steak in pepper sauce, chicken parmesan and prawn macaroni in tomato sauce are the main meals for the night.
The fish steak and chicken parmesan are served with french fries that appear to have been fried twice, and paysanne of crunchy vegetable coleslaw.
It seems the chef had excessive amounts of beetroot at his disposal. It’s the main piece of garnish on all the dishes – two slices of it are paired with a shred of lettuce. The rule of thumb is that beetroot should only be served as a garnish if it has been marinated or bound with a dressing.
The green salad, supposedly with a French dressing, is overpowered by excessive amounts of bell pepper and looks like it has been compressed with a heavy object onto the dish. This classic salad lacked height and depth and was poorly served.
After that is was not surprising to find the chicken parmesan overcooked and chewy, with an overly tangy tomatoe concassé and gratinated cheese on top.
The fish steak looked promising but turned out to be absolutely revolting, with a stale taste that is a travesty in a country where getting fresh fish is as easy as a five minute trip to the market.
The pepper sauce tasted good, though it lacked the right consistency and the glossy finish which comes from this type of velvety sauce.
Bracing ourselves, we tasted the prawn macaroni. It was like eating baby food, an overcooked mashed up mess of pasta and rubbery prawns. Either the chef didn’t know the difference between penne and macaroni or they had run out of it, as we were served penne.
Similar to the chicken parmesan, the tomatoe concassé for the pasta was undercooked and needed to be reduced more for a full bodied flavour.
By the time desserts and coffees arrived we were ready for just about anything.
The chocolate mousse is visually not bad with a dollop of split cream and a maraschino cherry. But one spoonful and a split second later the most distasteful after-taste of cocoa powdered oil hits the palate, enough to put anyone off chocolate mousse for life.
Even the coffee was burnt, watery and tasted bitter.
It’s a pity that Farivalhu, with the privilege of being in the city center and few restaurants in the vicinity, appears to not care enough to provide its clientele with good food. Maybe for inspiration they can look towards their service staff: the attentive waiters served their customers with care.
Mango smoothie: 25 Rf
Papaya juice: 18 Rf
Chocolate Milkshake: 20 Rf
Fish steak in pepper sauce: 45 Rf
Prawn macaroni in tomato sauce: 75 Rf
Green salad: 26 Rf
Chocolate Mousse: 15 Rf
Farivalhu Restaurant is located in the Central Hotel at Rahdhebai Magu is open from 7:30 am to 1:00 am.
Naby Mariyam is a Le Cordon Bleu chef graduate, and works as a cookery trainer in Sydney, Australia.