I’m about to clock up eight years in Doha. I’m not going to bore you with the expat habit of saying how fast it’s gone, how things have changed etc.
What I will talk about are the things that have become a constant. The irritating being the sandstorms, the whingeing expats and the bad driving. The good constants being friends, special people in my life, my job, this blog and the opportunities.
There are also the physical constants – those places you have been going to for years, that are a part of your life. One of those places is the Ritz Carlton Doha. Always elegant and welcoming, I have always enjoyed visiting there. The property is about to start a renovation which will see this landmark transformed.
I recently returned to the Ritz to try the new “Blind Tasting Menu” at La Mer, which was one of the first fine dining restaurants I visited in Doha all those years ago. Now helmed by Canadian chef William Khala, the restaurant has revamped its menu.
The idea behind the “Blind Tasting” is for the chef to discuss with each diner their preferences, likes and dislikes and he then prepares a seven course tasting menu to match that. I was thinking it’s probably quite hard when someone like me says they “LOVE everything”.
Our menu encompassed the familiar including a starter of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese with pumpkin seeds and powdered olive oil.
To the familiar remixed – like a dish of seared sea bass as well as this east meets west dish of delicate scallops with dukkah, raw cauliflower-couscous, cauliflower yogurt, roasted almonds and hibiscus.
And the challenging like a foie gras terrine that made me reassess my complicated relationship with the ingredient.
And a slow cooked Wagyu short rib that literally melted in my mouth. I may have wanted to lick the plate, but you know, I was in public. It was accompanied by a kale chip (possibly the first time in my life I admitted to liking kale), pistachio puree, charred leek and yes, an onion ring.
Often with a tasting menu, you lose each dish because of the volume of food. With this menu, each dish had it’s own personality and distinct flavor. I often find in Qatar’s dining scene, some chefs feel the need to pile on ingredient upon ingredient, sometimes over complicating a dish and losing its integrity.
This wasn’t the case with this menu.The menu was thoughtful yet also a little adventurous. Like this single oyster served on salt snow, with caviar served with a slither of radish and yuzu (Japanese citrus) and some caviar pearls, almost challenging the diner to enjoy the unobscured flavors.
Service was the usual Ritz Carlton flawless style – staff learned our names and were attentive yet unobtrusive – no wonder this is a favorite date restaurant. We chose the option of having each dish with a paired wine and our waiter was knowledgeable and understanding of our preferences. Chef William also visits and presents each dish, describes his method and reasoning for serving it.
To be honest, the actual dining room of La Mer is a little old school, but I hear new decor will be part of the revamp.
Whether you are a serious foodie, or just serious about having a great dining experience, this should be on your list.
La Mer, Ritz Carlton Doha
West Bay Lagoon, Doha
It’s QR500 per head for the seven course tasting menu.
To book call +974 4484 8000 or go to http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Doha/Dining/LaMer/Default.htm
*Life on the Wedge was a guest of Ritz Carlton Doha.