Cheese,  Food,  Middle East,  Restaurant Reviews,  wine

Best of the Brunch – Opal by Gordon Ramsay at St Regis Doha

I have written before about the concept of brunch in the Middle East – it’s an art form.

Hotels compete for the most elaborate buffet, ladies buy new outfits, drivers are booked, mayhem is guaranteed. I love a good brunch – a chance to catch up with friends, gossip and yes, wear the occasional new frock.

And this is the thing, buffets drive me crazy. Call me a drama queen, but I like to have my food brought to me. And the idea of dozens of people pawing the prawns before I get to them does make me a little uneasy.

Opal by Gordon Ramsay is an outpost of the celebrity chef’s empire. But what it has in distance from the UK mothership, it more than makes up for in food quality and ingenuity. They have pioneered an “a la carte” Friday brunch in Doha, where each diner can choose from a selected menu of breakfast items, starters, mains and desserts.

Each serving is bijoux, meaning you can order as many as you want and sample a range of flavors.

Gateway to heaven
Gateway to heaven

My usual partners in crime and I headed there in July for the last brunch before the Holy Month of Ramadan. Kind of like a last hurrah before we headed off for summer vacations and the city wound down for Ramadan.

Never say no to a cocktail
Never say no to a cocktail

Chef Gilles Bosquet’s brunch menu changes regularly depending on popularity and produce and ranges from eggs simply cooked to the more elaborate offerings like pasta with mushrooms and three cheeses.

Egg and beef bacon on brioche
Egg and beef bacon on brioche

You can treat each dish as a taster and part of a journey or just stick to starters or mains depending on how you feel. A perennial favorite of mine in the US-style crab cake served with a tart mayonnaise.

Crab cakes - a favorite
Crab cakes – a favorite

You can order any time you like and food is prepared a la minute – meaning it arrives promptly and hot.

Greek salad - a palate cleanser
Greek salad – a palate cleanser

More substantial offerings don’t disappoint either, but using our prior knowledge, we shared the pasta as it could almost be classed as a full serve.

Penne with mushrooms
Penne with mushrooms
Baby Opal burger with gruyere cheese
Baby Opal burger with gruyere cheese

Some items reappear regularly on the menu, including the snapper which comes in several incarnations. I have also tried it with asian style vegetables but this version was Med-inspired with clean flavors of artichoke and accompanied by aioli.

Snapper with artichokes and aioli
Snapper with artichokes and aioli

The dining room – with a picture window overlooking the sea – had a relaxed vibe, perhaps spurred by people already in holiday mode. Big groups and smaller ones like my table of four gave the place a lively feel and service was as always friendly, well informed and attentive.

Tamarind chicken wings - they eat these in heaven apparently
Tamarind chicken wings – they eat these in heaven apparenty

I am not a dessert girl, although my dress size says otherwise. But I do make an exception for the French Toast. An unctuously addictive piece of brioche soaked in syrup and served with icecream.

French Toast. Hands's mine
French Toast. Hands off…it’s mine
Eaton Mess - just call it a pavlova and be done!
Eaton Mess – just call it a pavlova and be done!

Brunch is served with free flow alcoholic beverages including some well selected international wines.

Who needs to elbow out people at the seafood station when you can have Michelin star food delivered to your table on demand?

Verdict: A grown up brunch for people who love their food and wine.

The Details:
Opal by Gordon Ramsay
St Regis Doha
Phone: (974) 44460000
Brunch every Friday from 12:30PM – 4PM
QR 275 inclusive of soft beverages
QR 375 inclusive of beer, house wine and house sparkling

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