Forget your gimmicks, your themed events and fancy dress. For me – good Friday brunch experience has a number of key elements – good food, great service and yes, crowd-pleasing music. And there are many around town – Nobu, Market at the W Doha, Shangtastic at Shangri-La who get it spot-on. But last year, a new and surprising entrant shook up the brunch scene – the Big Apple Brunch New York Steakhouse at Marriott Marquis.
Besides my sporadic trips to Quick Bites and Ipanema, frankly I never rated this hotel for its food and beverage. For me, it was a little too cookie cutter – big hotel, no real personality. So when I accepted an invite to try their new brunch at their steakhouse last year, I was expecting the usual – nothing too challenging and exciting. Decent steaks. Some salads. A couple of “surprise” dishes. A cocktail or two.
Let’s just say, I admit now that I underestimated this brunch.
What’s so good about it?
- The concept
At QR500 this is steep by anyone’s standards, but the idea of a US style brunch, no buffets and food cooked to order is more than appealing. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for a brunch buffet, but my days of scheppling back and forth and waiting, plate clutched to my breast, for that single prawn to be cooked at the live station, yep those days are gone. The concept is simple – a tight menu of favorites (and cheese and a roast cart), proper French bubbles (you heard me!), 25 martinis and live entertainment.
Nothing tricky. Rather international brunch favorites, served in small portions, just enough for one and also perfect to order a few to try (or all!). But these dishes all have one thing in common – a luxurious and creative touch.
I was happy to see of my recent visit, aware they had regulars, they changed up the menu to keep us interested, adding new dishes and keeping old favorites. They seem confident enough in the food and concept to make some tweaks, something diners appreciate. But the food? Well. An Eggs Benedict rendered luxe by the addition of a crab cake.
Chicken and waffles – the chicken served two ways (pan fried and deep fried), the waffle giving a hit of sweetness. A slow cooked braised short rub, fork tender, served with a perfectly poached egg and a silky hollandaise. A Caesar salad, a far cry from the cafe renditions, with a breaded, soft yolked egg.
As expected there is a burger, served open faced with a good hit of cheese and just enough to stave off the effects of the martinis. A filet of steak is perfectly cooked and kicked up a notch with a piece of pan fried foie gras.
A favorite dish, tuna tartare, given a cheeky twist thanks to gin and tonic jelly and a creamy avocado sauce.
One of the stars of the menu is the show-stopping seafood platter. Perfectly poached lobster, king crab legs and prawns plus a healthy dose of briny oysters. This, a glass pr two of their French bubbles, well I would be happy. there are also desserts (not my thing), but the chocolate souffle looks spectacular!
3. The drinks
I recognize that not everyone drinks or even likes a drink with lunch, but for those who do, this is a great brunch. I’ve always thought it was a little rude for some brunches to charge upwards of QR450 and serve very cheap wine and sparkling. Yeah, First World Problem, but this place proves you can serve quality tipples and not compromise. Another example of this is their Martini Cart – serving 25 different martinis, using premium gins (the espresso martini is a thing of beauty).
4. The atmosphere and service
This is a smaller space than most brunches in Doha. It’s a steakhouse, so the feel is clubby – red leather, high backed chairs, an open kitchen. But add in an excellent singer (and some retro party tunes between sets) and you have all the atmosphere you need. Couple this with outstanding, personalized service (they have regulars for a reason), where no glass is left empty for long and dishes cleared and new ones appear quickly.
Why do I think this is currently the best brunch in town right now?
It’s a big call.
You might say I, like other bloggers, had been invited and this colors my judgement. Yes, it’s true, I did last year and was impressed then. But I have been a paying guest four more times. That’s a blogger actually putting their money where their mouth is. I am as impressed now as I was then.
I had been worried the quality was a once off – but my return visits proved me wrong. The food is consistently great as is the service. I was also concerned, like many concepts in Doha, it would start with a bang, then they would start to strip back to save costs. Not so here – that touch of luxury and attention to detail remains.
I had given up my Friday brunching ways a while back – lunches at home and events with friends over bubbles and oysters. This is the concept that got me out of my Friday brunch retirement.
New York Steakhouse Brunch
Marriott Marquis Doha
Every Friday from 12.30pm. booking recommended
Phone: +974 4419 5000