And just like that, it’s December and we’re staring down the barrel of the festive season! While this month may be all about Christmas, there are others like Marhaba Qatar who do full round -ups of what’s on offer. My list is more about where to eat, drink and be a little merry in Doha this December…
The new season of the Farmer’s Market at Qatar Foundation has really impressed me. They have been a little more selective about their stallholders this year and there is now a new emphasis on food – eat in and to go. Favorites include Fresh Doha and their vegan bowls, BAO Doha’s selling their delectable Bao buns (bravo to them for lowering their prices) and newcomer Exhale with their Mexican inspired plates. They have the usual organic veggies, coffee joints, plants and craft stalls, but the food has been amped up. It feels busier and more inclusive. The market runs every Saturday from 8am to 8pm at the Ceremonial Court – go mid-morning and stay for lunch!
Must order: The make your own salad bowls at Fresh Doha, the chicken bao bun at BAO Doha and curried chickpea nachos at Exhale.
On its first full weekend of opening, this place on top of Katara Beach Club (in Katara), saw more than 400 people rock up to try their food. The buzz is real folks. Expect colorful plates of well executed comfort food, like creamy avocado with sweet king crab meat, crunchy cassava croquettes with hummous and churros with home made ice cream.
Competing with the food are the stunning interiors and the expansive terrace with views for days. I’m a fan of anywhere trying something new and different. In a city full of cookie cutter concepts and blow-ins, this is a home grown idea and a lot of love has gone into it. Book ahead, this place will be the hit of the winter season.
Must order: the crispy crab bao and any of the desserts.
anywhere that has beer, nachos and is smoke free is a winner in my book. Throw in the interactive option to pour your own brews and I’m going to be a regular. Newly opened in the Crowne Plaza West Bay, this bar is scoring points with the after work crowd.
It’s gimmick is that you can load up an RFID card with cash then choose and pour your own beer at tabletop taps or the “Beer Wall”. Add in a menu of well thought through bar food classics as well as a daily 4pm to 9pm happy hour, and you have a hit on your hands. PS for old timers like me, this used to the Melia Hotel in West Bay.
Must order: the beer (of course) and the sublime buffalo chicken dip.
When the Mandarin Oriental does a theme night, it pulls out all the stops. This isn’t your usual hotel seafood buffet. It’s not a buffet at all. There are live cooking stations as well as an a la carte menu of lobster dishes like lobster mornay, a richly creamy Sri Lankan lobster curry and of course, lobster sushi rolls.
The live cooking stations include a decadent lobster risotto and more including a raw bar. At QR390 per head (alcohol is a la carte) every Wednesday this is treat territory. But with unlimited Canadian lobster and the Mandarin Oriental attention to detail, this is worth the splurge. This hotel has been quietly carving out quite a reputation for it’s food – expect more in 2020.
Must order: The succulent tandoori lobster – a half shell of lobster delicately spiced with Indian touches.
I was pretty excited about the new Al Messila Hotel and Spa when it opened last month – mainly for the food offerings. with the city’s first Scandinavian restaurant on site and now this place, that excitement has been well founded. Veritas serves up Northern Italian food with flair. The centerpiece of the dining room is a pasta counter where the chefs make your noodles to order. It’s interactive and fun, but it’s also heaven for a serious foodie. Speaking of which, DO NOT expect alfredo or other close approximations to Italian food, this is the real deal. Their pizza is a thing of beauty, rich and almost buttery crust topped with earthy gorgonzola.
Tonno al marinara is plated to perfection, the barely cooked fresh tuna complimented by almost sweet fresh tomatoes and salty capers. The main event is the pasta – their take on lasagna is a disc of slow cooked beef and fresh mozzarella given a luxe touch thanks to shavings of truffle. Their alcohol licence is in process and their prices are on par with other established Italian restaurants – but the food surpasses most of what we have in Doha.
Must order: chittarrine pasta with olive oil and parmesan cream – one of the best dishes I have eaten this year.