It’s hot. It’s humid. The days are long. But these are not excuses to not to dine well in Doha this July and August. What to expect? Gluten free dining; a Japanese/Korean fine dining option and a brunch for those who may be tired of the usual brunch scene. These are my hot, new and just-reviewed places to check out, right now.
Pure Eats has opened at Qanat Quartier at The Pearl, offering a huge gluten free and dairy free menu of comfort food. I’ve always struggled a big with the “free from” cuisines as they have erred on the side of tasteless – thankfully Pure Eats turns this on its head. The Sheikha Burger (QR89) comes with a gluten free bun, dairy free cheese, a spicy sauce and two USDA angus beef patties.
A chicken Parma pasta (QR65) comes with a tangy tomato sauce and topped with well seasoned crumbed chicken strips. A gluten free take on chicken shawarma comes with a spicy sauce. The desserts were perhaps the biggest surprise for me – the heroine being a lush pistachio cake topped with dairy free cream. The thing about Pure Eats is that this could be a cafe in any city in the world. And that’s what Qatar needs more of – diverse, independent eateries with interesting offerings.
Must order: The burgers and save room for desserts.
The space on the ground floor of the Four Seasons Doha may have finally found a permanent concept.
Le Deli Robuchon has opened in the light filled location which spills out to the gardens (currently being revamped). With the deli counter “in the round” and ringed by tables and sofas, the spot has already proven popular. The menu includes the Instafamous Le Cube Robuchon (the vanilla custard filled version was lush) as well some unique sandwiches and pastries.
Legendary French chef Joël Robuchon, named “Chef of the Century” by Gault Millau and at one time the holder of the most Michelin stars (32 actually) of any restaurateur in the world, passed away in 2018, but his legacy lives on with his global empire of restaurants. Prices for the Doha venture are as you would expect for a five star hotel, but this is great for a catch-up with friends or a sweet treat. With the weather finally turning its mind to summer, the outdoor terrace will be a perfect spot in the cooler months.
Must order: Le Cube of course but don’t sleep on the sandwiches they are great.
Once you get past the Bond Villain Lair aesthetic of Provok (there is a glass encased life sized ice sculpture which gives real Die Another Day feels) Chef Taimoo Sun’s Japanese and Korean menu (with occasional detours into China and Vietnam) is interesting and dare I say, a little provocative. The chef’s influences are very apparent – a bowl of Caesar salad (QR75) with triple cooked potato gnocchi and pecans is straight out of Nobu’s (where he has worked) playbook.
Korean style ssam tacos (ssam means wrapped) with lettuce and shrimp (QR60) are light and bright and remind me of everything I love about this cuisine. The “Gamechanger” (QR55) is a playful spin on flavors and textures. Platters of sushi and sashimi are good but play a distant second fiddle to the other dishes like a take on the much loved Bulgogi – with wagyu beef, toban chili and mushrooms (QR210). Spread over two levels, downstairs is the bar which has a happy hour and an outdoor terrace. Yes, some of the names of dishes veer towards pretentious, like the interiors, but I’m a forgiving soul.
Must order: The Gamechanger and stump the cost for the Bulgogi
I so want to gate keep Ambar at the Mandarin Oriental, it’s one of my favorite bars in Doha. But if a place is great, I feel compelled to share. Located on their second floor, it’s stylish, quiet and discrete and has some of the best bar food in the city. It also has seriously good cocktails – from the classics through to the more innovative styles. Speaking of classics, their Cocktail nights, which run Sunday to Wednesday are perfect for a catch up with friends or to take the edge off the week.t’s QR150 for three cocktails plus four very substantial tapas/snacks.
The menu of seven cocktails includes a Negroni, a vesper martini (shaken or stirred) and an old fashioned among others.If you prefer something later in the week, their oysters and champagne nights are now etched in my calendar – QR275 for a half bottle of bubbly and oysters from Thursday to Saturday. Ambar is very underrated – perhaps not on everyone’s radar because of the Msheireb location. However, it should be on your rotation – it’s very relaxed, the service excellent and the food five star.
Must order: The tapas – head straight for the sour dough with manchego but also don’t count out the bowl of piquant padron peppers – charred and almost sweet and nutty in flavor.
Friday Brunch at The M Doha
You may be a little over me talking about this place, but others are starting to catch on to how good it is. This brunch is perhaps currently the best in the Doha market right now – a big call but I have receipts to prove it. The a la carte menu changes regularly but the quality never wanes – the food is unpretentious, meaning it’s what you actually want to eat.
I’ve been to this brunch three times (all paid for myself) since it launched and find something new to impress me each time. Mainstays on the menu include the surprising rigatone with fennel sausage and a silky beef carpacccio. The drinks menu included a choice of sparkling, red, rose and white; six cocktails and beer (Peroni, Corona and Stella). With three seating time options (12pm, 1pm and 2pm) and combined with the stellar service it’s probably the most grown-up brunch I have been to in some time. Perhaps like me, you were cynical about the Friday brunch scene; this is the one brunch that could just change your mind. It’s QR350 for soft drinks and QR450 for the alcohol package.
Must order: Just sit back and enjoy it all, and yes you can order more.
The thing about Chinese food is that we all think we know what it is. The Chinese diaspora has spread across the world and their cuisine is their calling card. The truth is, the Chinese food most of us know is very much a caricature of the true cuisine. Adapted to suit the local market. This is why the offering at Zhen Street Kitchen is so unique. It may be located in a west bay hotel but the food is very much of North Eastern China with few compromises.
And this can be a leap for those us us used to the “Cantonese light” Chinese food we know and love. Kick off with their mapo tofu – a traditional Sichuan dish, made with simmered medium-firm silken tofu flavored with fermented bean paste, beef, plenty of red-hot roasted chili. Save room their dumplings – stuffed with vegetables, beef and also seafood. These are more rustic than other offerings in the city but in my view among the best in class.
You can go to one of the big name restaurants in the mall offering “Chinese” food; or the newer places with views claiming to offer “elevated” versions of this cuisine. And you should! But you should also take a step outside your comfort zone try something new – you might surprised.
Must order: The hotpot and the dumplings
While you are here…
So that’s Your Summer 2023 Dining Hit List – Where to eat and drink in Doha this July and August – don’t tell me there’s nothing new to try! But while I have you here:
- Do you subscribe to my weekly newsletter? If not, why not? It’s got news, reviews, my views and the odd special treat! I’m biased but each week’s is a cracker.
- For my best restaurants of 2023, check out this post.
- My mid-year 2023 report card for the dining scene is here.
- I’m a tease but a project I have been working on is launching very soon – stay tuned!