Ever has that feeling KNOW you are getting taken for an expensive ride…that feeling when the experience is so swift and so practiced that you have to sit back and just admire the AUDACITY.
That folks, is what it is like to eat at HUQQA The overall experience is so pleasant and the food is so tasty that you kind of just throw up your hands (or in this case your wallet) and say…I give up. Just take it. Take my money.
I had that exact feeling when I realized we were paying QR168 for a dish called Sac Kavarna. You heard me. QR168. For a dish of admittedly beautifully spiced cubes of lamb and some flatbread.
But we are ahead of ourselves.
This restaurant is part of a well known chain and is a continuation of Qatar’s love affair with Turkish cuisine. It’s housed in the space once occupied by the St Regis’ redundant and somewhat moribund second ballroom (aka Al Gassar). The building has been redesigned and re-purposed as six new restaurants – this one, a tapas restaurant, a Mexican restaurant and more.
What is HUQQA?
HuQQa has two parts – one an international style restaurant and the other the Turkish steakhouse. We opted to sit outside on a pleasant winters day on the steakhouse side and I will say the set up is stunning. Our vest-wearing waiter (what is in that front pocket?) was…rushed which was strange given there were only a sprinkling of tables occupied.
The outdoor area is lovely – benches and tables tailor made for sharing. The area itself, overlooking the entrance to the St Regis is actually an inspired use of the space. The blankets on the back of chairs a nod to Doha’s allegedly chilly winter.
Sitting down, we were handed an iPad menu (god how I hate them), the offering is extensive and almost encyclopedic. Hot and cold starters, salads, grills, burgers, breakfasts and more. Feeling overwhelmed we opted for two starters, a salad and two grills.
Around 15 minutes after ordering the harried waiter plonked two tiny dishes and bread on our table. “How nice,” I trilled. “Some free dips!”
Narrator: “they were not free dips.”
Half way through devouring the smokey eggplant and white cheese dip called the Albanian Pouche, I realized this half a cup of dip housed in a bowl that could fit in the palm of my hand was in fact what we ordered.
Narrator: it cost QR36
We looked askance at the other dish of smokey sweet and sour eggplant. Equally as small but but just as delicious.
Narrator: “It cost QR56”
Good thing we didn’t order the corn. It was QR69 for four small grilled pieces. A burger? Qr129
But back to our actual meal. A salad of white cheese, green olives, tomatoes and lettuce was well put together and fresh. A slick of pomegranate dressing (added at the table) have it a sweet/tart kick. It was also QR76. Gulp.
“Eat your greens!” I commanded my other half. “ALL. OF. THEM”
Adana kebabs are a favorite of mine and we ordered with high expectations. In terms of juiciness and flavor it delivered in spades. The meat was clearly high quality had just a little hint of chilli added. The two skewers clocked in at QR104.
As I said the lamb dish we ordered was the star of proceedings. The flavors can’t be faulted – well spiced and perfectly cooked.
I had briefly considered ordering a shisha – something this outlet is famous for. But with shisha starting at QR140 and skyrocketing from there, that’s for a later date.
Better overall value seems to be their breakfast offering. Among the many dishes on offer for the morning, they have one traditional Turkish breakfast spread with meat, cheese, eggs and more designed to be shared by two people for QR183. I would return for that…
Service as I said was spotty but charming and friendly – from the hostess to the waiter. Some things were lost in translation and when we queried one mistake it was swiftly rectified and removed from our bill. The set-up is also made for Doha’s winters – huge outdoor seating area, spaced well enough to give privacy but also a “buzz” when full. We didn’t clock the other “International” side and I would be interested to explore that menu and value proposition…after payday.
So what’s as the damage? We had very little change from QR500 with two diet cokes and no dessert or coffee. I get it, Turkish food is meant for sharing. The dishes small so you can taste everything. But even adding another couple of starters, a dessert and coffee, we would be hovvering in the QR1000 territory – and that’s just crazy.
The flavors may have been great (almost enough to overlook the guy at the next table who slipped off his flip flops and dined barefoot – but I’m fussy like that) but in spite of the quality of th food I can’t in all conscience say this is good value for money. There will be people who disagree with me (judging by some of the rhapsodic “reviews” on social media), but that’s where I stand.
so when we left (there is valet parking right in front), I turned to my partner and said meekly… “Did we just…..?”
“Yes, darling. Yes.”
We all know this place will be a hit. I mean… the AUDACITY.
HUQQA, Line and Sinker
Huqqa Qatar, St Regis Doha. Open from 10am to 12am daily
Must order: Adana kebab