Cheese

Dining Out in Doha – the good, the bad and the downright alarming

I actually wanted to name this post “The Good, The Bad and the Did That Just Happen?” because, let’s face it, we’ve all left a restaurant or eatery shaking our heads.

This isn’t a “name and shame” post, rather to give voice to the many discussions I have with fellow foodies, hoteliers, restauranteurs and everyone in between about what works and what doesn’t in this town.

THE GOOD

NEW CONCEPTS

kebab german doha life on the wedge

New concepts like German Doner Kebab keep things interesting

From the country’s first Vegan Cafe to innovative and downright funky cafes we are starting to see a new diversity of offerings from high end to crowd favorites like German Doner Kebab on the dining front. Even the legendary Cheesecake Factory is coming. New concepts and new options are a good thing for the consumer. Another point here is that there are more amazing offerings beyond West Bay including Indian foodSouth American and sushi. There has never been a better time to be a foodie in Doha.

HOME-BASED FOOD BUSINESSES

Whether it’s freshly made cookies or pasta or burgers cooked fresh in your home, Qatar’s home and Instagram-based food micro businesses are booming. I’ve tried Vietnamese pho made fresh, home made savory pies and many other dishes both at MIA Bazaar, through the vibrant Doha Foodies Facebook Group or via Instagram, the options are endless!

BYE BYE BUFFETS

Finally it seems hotels and restaurants are banishing the lavish buffet and trying the a la carte route especially for brunch. Not everyone likes to trawl a buffet looking for something to eat and frankly they are overwhelming! Standouts are Nobu Doha and the new Picnic Brunch at Ritz Carlton Doha. Expect more as Nozomi Doha and Mainland China look to add new brunch concepts in coming weeks.

VALET PARKING

It’s a small thing but many venues are now adding valet parking and the expat brat in me says…yaaaaas.

THE BAD

images

UNTRAINED STAFF

I was in a cafe recently with a friend with a food intolerance. He asked the obvious questions and the replies came back as “I don’t know” “Maybe” and “Not sure”. No attempt was made to check or follow up.Just a nervous giggle. This is not an isolated incident. From bad phone manners to lack of knowledge, it’s still common place in many venues in this city.

SKY-HIGH PRICES

We all know life in Qatar can run on the expensive side. But QR440 plus for an average brunch offering or QR70 upwards for a sandwich isn’t just gilding the lily…it’s taking the proverbial. This also applies to supermarkets in this country. I feel violated when I leave some of them and not in a good way. A friend who works in the food business told me once that good food doesn’t have to be expensive, I wish some outlets would heed this advice.

PRETENTIOUS MUCH?

The global trend of dense opaque and flowery language to describe menu items has reached Qatar. Apparently the more words you use to describe something, the more awesome the dish is. If it’s lamb chops with mint sauce then that’s what we want to know. Maybe it’s provenance but really, I didn’t need to know the mint was carefully sourced from a fair trade farm in Guatemala and dried according to Zen principles in a farm house owned by local shepherds.

WHEN DO WE GET THE FOOD TRUCKS?

Still waiting for the promised food trucks at the MIA Bazaar. I’m hoping this will be interesting, diverse and a little bit fun.

burger food truck doha

Burgers are great but let’s see some more diversity in our food truck offerings!

THE DOWNRIGHT ALARMING

WASTE NOT WANT NOT REALLY

While there have been strides in the right direction on this issue, we still have a way to go. On a micro level restaurants like Maison De Sushi are charging for food on your plate left uneaten, and many restaurants will now allow you to take away leftovers. There still needds to be a cultural shift for both consumer and vendor.

NO SUCH THING AS BAD PUBLICITY

Anyone who is on Instagram or Snapchat as seen it. The blanket gushing posts and mentions for certain new or emerging restaurants by bloggers, “Influencers” and others. They have invited them to an event and as a result, get a myriad of positive mentions, photos and reviews. I admit, I’m also a party to this Social Media Industrial Complex. The problem I have have is that it makes it hard to separate the reality from the hyperbole and there is rarely a disclaimer attached. Not much can be done to change this, but it’s worth being a bit of a skeptic.

GRILLED CHEESE

I am yet to find a decent grilled cheese sandwich in this town. This is a travesty! Any suggestions?

Well, my whine is over. What drives you crazy about the dining scene here in Qatar? Share your comments below and happy eating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Cheese

17 replies »

  1. Unfortunately, cheap eats here are often times linked to small ethnic shops that are usually overlooked because people automatically judge them as “unhygienic”, but almost always deliver great authentic flavors. The food scene in Doha is far from being as diverse as it’s always publicized to be, and with the widespread mentality, it will remain this way.

  2. I make a mean grilled cheese sandwich with bacon, just bought some pesto and hot pepper cheese from Amsterdam! I wouldn’t go anywhere for one 🙂

  3. Will never forget the mediocre Lebanese restaurant at the Pearl that wanted to charge me 24qr for a can of Lipton iced tea. I almost lost it when they told me. This type of price gouging has to stop.

  4. Being in the Food Business (People Business- that’s how I like to call it as we are working for Them all the time) I feel that the most important thing for us to consider is Value for Money (VFM). The days are numbered for the All you can Eat Buffets charging exuberant amounts by claiming 100 Items on display, which technically includes 30 varieties of condiments 20 other types of hit and miss salads and cold cuts, these probably only have 8 – 10 decent food items which people would like to eat … which invariably tends to get lost in the superfluous of the extravagance.

    Today calls for 10-12 decent tasting items at a price that people cant resist, teamed up with great genuine service.

  5. Unfortunately they need a lot to learn about hospitality food industries a big factor is the industrie wants to buy a Ferrari but not put petrol .. they don’t pay for professionalism or understanding of food or language .. I am one restaurant that worked very hard to make real food real valuable prices most of all loved each and every consumer that walked in from the heart.. I ran in to a unfortunate investor who devastated my world with making my desicion to close down so that we didn’t sacrifice the quality we put in .. Qatar it’s a shame 5 star restaurants are not the quality for the price ..Qatar can have the best of the best if they provide proper teaching school for food handling and consumer attention before opening or workers in this field compulsory 6 week course should be given .. Rachel if u ever want a mean yummy go crazy cheese toastie I am glad to come make it for you …

  6. I’m pretty sure I know where that QR440 brunch was, and I wasn’t too impressed with it. There certainly wasn’t any food worth that much and the selection was pretty dire. The wine waiter was quite surly and the atmosphere lacking. I was invited back there again for a celebration this coming Friday. I politely declined and shall take my custom to a better brunch with a more diverse selection and staff that genuinely care.
    On the wastage front, even the lowly Great Wall Chinese at The Centre charge for food left on the plate!

  7. I’m pretty sure I know where that QR440 brunch was, and I wasn’t too impressed with it. There certainly wasn’t any food worth that much and the selection was pretty dire. The wine waiter was quite surly and the atmosphere lacking. I was invited back there again for a celebration this coming Friday. I politely declined and shall take my custom to a better brunch with a more diverse selection and staff that genuinely care.
    On the wastage front, even the lowly Great Wall Chinese at The Centre charge for food left on the plate!

  8. It’s a shame that you feel you had to bash your fellow bloggers in a post which is supposed to be about food in Qatar. There has been some unsupportive behaviors going on in the recent weeks and I think you should be using your own influence to be boosting others up rather than tearing them down. Just a thought

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