There is no doubt about it….Qatar loves a food trend. Remember when elaborate cupcakes popped up like wildflowers? Then cookies filled with all manner of sweet fillings…2018 is no different. Here’s my tongue-in-cheek look at the best and the…worst food trends of 2018.
Peruvian Food: Yep, with the opening of La Mar and Manko, this intriguing and addictive cuisine that is a mix of Japanese, Spanish, Chinese and South American – has Qatar’s foodies talking – and it’s all good. The Intercontinental Doha has taken the “go hard or go home” approach, putting serious cash behind it with a custom built venue, celebrity chef endorsement and frankly it has paid off. Here’s to more brave choices in 2019.
Plastic straw revolt: It’s in its infancy but many restaurants in Qatar are finally offering alternatives to plastic straws. Bravo to the Marriott Marquis Doha and Crowne Plaza Business Park for offering steel and paper straws and for Talabat Qatar for now has a “no plastic cutlery” option on their home delivery app which not only makes economic sense, but reduces waste. Now for businesses to ditch the plastic – that’s a harder road.
Vegan food: As I have previously written about vegan food is having a moment in Qatar and it’s about time. Raw ME, Fresh Doha and of course Evergreen Organics are at the vanguard of this revolution and cafes and restaurants are also jumping on board with meatless and vegan options on their menus. Even this carnivore is a fan.
Specialty coffee: As an openly over-caffeinated individual, I initially loved the proliferation of the specialty coffee shops around Qatar. More places to indulge, meet and generally hang around drinking coffee. But have we reached peak Spanish latte? For every EspressoLab, Flat White or Cafe 42 committed to and serving up great coffee, somewhere there is a cheesecake latte being served. Time for something new…
Burgers…burgers…and burgers: Speaking of saturating the market. Dear would-be cafe and restaurant owners – there is so much more to food in the city than burgers. I get it – they are easy to produce and who doesn’t love a burger? I do! But…there ismore to fast food than burgers. Last week I saw a restaurant hyping a dish that consisted on three mini burgers (aka sliders) on a skewer. Seriously. Also guys, enough of the colored buns already. Stop. Please.
Trick plating: For hundreds of years, humans have been using plates and platters to serve food. There is a reason for that. They work. They are practical. Here in Doha I’m seeing this kind of trickery sneak onto our plates. I’m not talking about dry ice or the like. Chefs, please let your food speak for itself. Call me old fashioned but I do not want to eat my dinner off a tyre, or from a mini shopping trolley. Nobody needs that.
Saturday brunch: Finally, this is a “thing” – thanks to the much improved Opal at St Regis, Momosan at Morimoto at the Mondrian and the popular Noodles and Ribs offering at the Four Seasons Doha. There is something very civilized about a Saturday brunch – less drama than a Friday and a way to sliiiiide back into the week.
Breaking the QR500 Brunch Ceiling: When the always dependable Nobu tapped on the QR500 ceiling for their brunch, there was a sharp intake of breath from many foodies. But the people came. Now, Marriott Marquis’ Big Apple Brunch has taken a crash or crash through approach and has priced theirs at an eye watering QR595. Whether that is sustainable is a matter for the market…
Casual dining: by casual I don’t mean “turning up in your sweats” – I mean removing the stiffness and overformality that sometimes permeates restaurants here. A perfect example of this is this year’s breakthrough star – Claw BBQ. Relaxed, great music, simple food and staff with personality. More restaurants are following suit and relaxing the rules a little – this can only be a good thing.
Festivals: Burgers? Biryani? Street food? We’ve got a festival for that. The Qatar Food Festival is no longer the only player in town (although it is still the OG of food festivals), with more festivals than you can poke a stick at popping up around town. Are we festivaled out? The crowds flocking to them seem to say no. I will not cease until there is a Night Cheese Festival.
Food trucks: I’d love to say the proliferation of food trucks (more caravans and cabins in Qatar) selling everything from koshari to karak and just fries was related to a spontaneous uprising of foodies. Rather, it has more to do with sports clubs and businesses looking for a way to make some money from unused spaces like carparks. Who am I to question capitalism when it delivers me fast and fresh food?
What about you? what is your favorite/least favorite food trend of 2018? share int he comments below!