There are two things certain.
One of that a Kardashian will post a nude shot on Instagram. The other is that at some point in our lives, we will be forced to eat an overpriced, stale sandwich in a dingy airport somewhere in the world.
I’m pleased to say, that Hamad International Airport, this trend is being bucked. (The Kardashians however, that’s a lost cause).
Honestly, took me some time to warm to this behemoth of an airport. The old airport was just 1km from my home and I could even see the tail fins of the planes from my balcony. After a trip I could be off the plane, in a taxi and home in 15 minutes flat.
But, I have been charmed (I’m making no comment about THAT bear) and the airport, with it’s cavernous departure area, great duty free and travellators has won me over. So to, it seems our international traveling friends. Doha is looming as a top destination for transit passengers from Australia, Asia, Europe and the US, thanks to good connection times with eight million passengers passing through in the first quarter of 2016 alone.
As many of us are planning to flee for the summer break (Budapest, Zanzibar, Koh Samui and Bali in my near future), I thought a look at some of the more interesting dining options at the airport was in order.
Not everyone has access to one of the four plush lounges in the airport, so, with the help of Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free here is my rundown of the options in terms of foodie destinations airside:
Champagne and caviar pre flight? Yes please waiter! The raw bar is the best and I am a fan of their seafood plate of oysters, smoked salmon and prawns. They also up the luxury quotient Swiss Balik Salmon and Prunier Caviar washed down with bubbly and a spot of people watching.
With a menu that runs from asian-style salads through to crab cakes and burgers, the stylish design (in red of course) sets this apart. The burgers are a work of art and use USDA prime beef and toppings including goat cheese. Kid friendly.
Seating up to 600 people, this is as it’s name suggests, market style dining. Arabic, Asian and Indian as well as European favorites, it has something to try to please everyone. Operating 24 hours, they even have screens updating departures so you have no excuse to miss your flight as you scoff your breakfast pancakes.
OK so this is technically a food court that you would see in all major airports and malls, but with a few additions to pique your interest. While you have the ubiquitious Burger King (I have been guilty of gobbling a Whopper pre flight), it also has
- Camden Food, offering organic sandwiches, a fresh salad bar, smoothies and dried fruit
- Negroni, an Italian outlet with a variety of pastas and pizzas (but alas, no actual Negronis)
- Azka, offering Indian favorites and some Arabic options
- Red Mango serving up frozen yogurts, coffees and juices for the thirsty
Could use more seating as at peak times is a squeeze. Don’t forget, you are paying a premium for its location.
The cool thing about this outlet is the glass roof gives the impression it’s outside. Probably one of the few locations with actual natural light in the building. Along with Caviar House and Le Grand Comptoir one of the places outside of the lounges where you can get a glass of wine or a beer with your pasta or pizza.
An attempt at a Parisian brasserie in the heart of a heaving airport. The one time I have been, I found the service impeccable. Serving up pastries and hot dishes for breakfast as well as French brasserie favorites like Salad Nicois and steak and frites. It’s an overused word, but it’s actually a little classy and there is even a live pianist. The only drawback is the proximity to that flashing ginormous TV in departures. Get a table inside.
A little slice of Qatari hospitality in the heart of the airport. This place is designed to resemble a majlis – gathering place – with richly textured fabrics and a menu that runs from local coffee through to mezze, dates and sweets. My last trip though the airport I noticed Qataris and transiting passengers enjoying the location.
This funky, exquisitely designed cafe serves up wraps, sandwiches, sushi rolls good coffee and no attitude. They also stock Raw Middle East juices and a concept of Qatar Museums they also have a gift shop on site.
So, honestly I have never had more than a coffee here as being born without a sweet tooth, I haven’t been tempted by their menu of waffles, cakes and creamy dreamy concoctions. But, the coffee I have had was decent if a little overheated as is the norm in this part of the world.
I’m not hip with the kids so the tea phenomenon has passed me by. But this outpost of the international chain that prides itself on using organic ingredients, you can sample a range of teas as well as sandwiches and wraps. For the tea sceptics, they have Illy coffee.
Grab and go outlets (one on concourse B and one on C) with free trade coffee, some snazzy organic packaged snacks and the usual sandwiches.
Not a restaurant or cafe, rather a store packet with delicious foodie gifts. I pick up Arabic sweets for family and friends here but they also have Bateel dates and Kusmi Tea. I wish this shop was in Doha city!
These offerings, not all five star, are better than a hot pocket and an elbow in the ribs on the plane any day.
Safe travels foodies!
*This post was made possible by the great people at Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free.