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