I have a confession to make – I’m a huge fan of Dani Garcia, the brains behind the newly minted Lobito De Mar at the Marsa Malaz Kempinski.
But when I was told this new Doha venture was to be located on the moribund bayside site that was home to the now dearly departed Pearl Social and prior to that Antica Pesa, I did hesitate. The spot, on the island outside of the main hotel, well, it seemed a gamble. The underrated Pearl Social was excellent couldn’t make a dent and NY style Antica Pesa too was long gone. Both spots had a celebrity name attached as well.
But with the space given a light and bright seaside inspired makeover and a menu of Spanish seafood classics, I think the hoodoo might finally be broken.
What to expect at Lobito De Mar
Tapas and seafood. It’s that simple. Lobito de Mar first opened in Marbella in 2017 followed a second branch opened in Madrid in 2019. It’s the second Doha venture for Garcia after the greatly improved Bibo. Fans of Bibo (I am a recent one), will see a few familiar dishes.
The main dining room occupies the downstairs and has an outdoor terrace. The night I visited it was blowing a Doha desert inspired gale, so we luxuriated on the comfortable seats inside. In a very Doha twist the dock in front of Lobito will allow guests to arrive with their private boats and The Pearl water taxi service. the dining room is close enough to be cosy but not so close it’s an issue – the night I visited the restaurant was full. The vibe was lively and honestly it was a treat to see a busy restaurant post-COVID.
Upstairs is a bar area and will host a DJ in coming months.
The Menu at Lobito De Mar
I was fortunate to try a sampling of the menu on my visit, matched with wines. Highlights included:
- The Spanish can do things with potatoes that other nationalities only dream about. Patata alinada – crushed potatoes with olive oil and a silky tuna tartare – fresh, clean and tangy
- Croquetas de calamar – these inky morsels, are in turn salty and unctuous
- Spanish prawn salad comes with a tangy dressing and stuffed inside a hollowed out pineapple. As an Australian it’s my duty to ensure pineapple is added to everything (pizza, burgers etc) do I was pleased to see this playful dish on the menu.
- Another for the octopus lovers (please, no need to tell me to watch The Octopus Teacher ok?), pulpa la Gallega, hailing from the Spanish region of Galicia on the Atlantic coast, perfectly tender discs of the mollusc, dusted with paprika and salt. To me this kind of dish exemplifies the beauty of Spanish cuisine – simple yet at equal turns complex.
- The main event – huge steaming pans of paella, the glistening, al dente rice and the crackle of the socarrat (the crusty and crunchy on the base of the paella) like music to this foodie’s ears. This is not the paella we usually see here, aka mounds of overcooked rice. This is the real deal. Seafood paella comes studded with prawns, mussels and lobster. A wagyu version sees the broth the rice is cooked in in a beefy broth, the meat seasoned hard, served a silky medium rare.
- Dessert featured a tarte de queso – yes a Basque style cheesecake but not as we know it. More savory than sweet, the wobbly custard like cake was finished with a generous shaving of manchego cheese. Heaven for this cheese lover.
Wines and cocktails at Lobito De Mar
The night we visited they offered is selection of sherry and gin based cocktails as well as a Spanish wine-based tasting menu. I’m always pleased to se this attention to detail.
What about the prices?
To be clear, this was an invite and a set menu. But they have now released their full menu and prices. It’s a five star hotel venue so the prices do reflect that.
Starters sit at QR50 and up, croquettes QR60 and up, sides from QR25 and their fish dishes from QR55. Paella (for two) is from QR235, creamy lobster rice QR435.
The Verdict on Lobito De Mar
This is meant as a first look at Lobito De Mar At Marsa Marsa Malaz Kempinksi. This visit was a pre-opening experience and for perhaps the first time serving a crowd of this size, service and atmosphere were spot on. The menu is populated by Spanish classics which do, in my experience stick as close as possible to the culinary heritage and DNA of the food. The paella is also hands down the best in class in this city.
As someone who has been covering the food scene in this city for more than 10 years (yep, this blog hits a decade this year), I have long been saying that Doha is ready for and indeed needs sophisticated, interesting places like this with legitimate culinary pedigree.
Third time is a charm as the experts say.
Lobito De Mar, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl
Open from 6pm at the moment
Good for: Seafood lovers, romantic dinner, night out with foodie friends
Must order: the octopus dishes and of course the paella!