Back in the old days, when my hair was as red as my wine, THE place to go for a quiet and romantic night out was Maxims at Radisson Blu. It was old school fun, a secret elevator whisked you its hushed and plush interior and the menu included classics like Dover sole, crepes suzette and foie gras. It was a different time, before Instagram and Alas folks, Maxim’s is no more and something very 2018 has replaced it – a gin bar.
Now more Parisian bistro than bolthole, the new incarnation, Inginuity, sits comfortably inside the revamped Maxims interior and with more than 20 gins on the drinks menu, it’s a rare find in Doha. The menu is also now more creative and bar-food focused thanks to the venue’s new-ish Singaporean-born chef.
A generous plate of house gin smoked salmon is rich and buttery and offset by the crispy salmon skin adorning the plate.Salted cod (a rarity in this city) is served with orange/gin foam and even their humble bowl of fries comes with truffle salt.
A trio of wagyu sliders is cooked medium rare and served in tiny brioche buns with a salty/sour/spicy hit of kimchi. The co-star of this dish are the hand cut chips – perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside – a rare feat in this town which is blighted by flaccid chips.
While the menu is very much “of the now”, there is still a touch of Maxims in the new venture in the form of the ever popular manager Jimmy. They have also kept the traditional preparation of Steak Diane – done tableside with the flambe flourish and all. My steak was a perfect medium rare and the sauce garlicky with that creamy Diane peppery finish.
On the drinks side, you can try gins you might not find elsewhere and they are paired with a normal tonic or one of their specialty versions. There are also gin liqueurs – trying them is my winter challenge.
In recent years I have rarely visited Radisson Blu, centering my dining out around West Bay and my home area. More fool me. With one of the most diverse dining offerings in the city (Bombay Balti, the excellent Chingari and Ruby Wu’s to name just three of their 13 outlets), this is a major omission on my part.
The Verdict: Everything old IS new again. Inginuity is a rare find – a bar/restaurant with well executed and imaginative food and a service culture that is lacking in some of the newer hotels in the city, this is a place that will both comfort and surprise you.
The Cost: Prices for food are pocket friendly – starting from QR30 but most hovering around QR45. Steak Diane is a very reasonable QR99 with sides (and of course, the show!)
Please read my fine print (no magnifying glass needed)…