Despite Qatar being a small country just off the Arabian peninsula, its position in the world both economically and culturally has brought with it a treat of diverse and multicultural cuisines. The country’s capital, Doha, is home to a number of local and international restaurants catering to all tastes. We revisit Doha to find out whether its cuisine is still world class.
Opened in 2010, the Cellar has grown in recognition and is now one of the most popular restaurants in Doha. The simple yet elegant décor is matched by its fine selection of Mediterranean tapas. The wine list, as you’d expect, is extensive and thoughtfully complements the flavors of the Spanish dishes. On Tuesdays, the all-you-can-eat tapas with three glasses of wine is a very reasonable treat. Among other exquisite dishes, the tapas includes grilled salmon with fennel and orange, oven-baked hammour with chickpea puree, tuna tartar with avocado, and herb crusted mussels.
Ipanema is an exciting Brazilian restaurant whose concept is to offer guests an all-you-can-eat experience. There is a buffet of straight-forward pastas and salads, but the main draw for the crowds is the Brazilian churrascaria, which offers diners over a dozen cuts of grilled Brazilian meat on skewers. Cooked on a traditional oven pit, guests can choose from tender picanha, linguiça, char-grilled chicken or lamb. With a vibrant and lively atmosphere the restaurant comes alive at night, with a live band playing Brazilian songs as you eat.
Layali is often cited as the best Lebanese restaurant in Qatar, even winning the Best Middle Eastern Cuisine Award from Time Out Doha magazine in 2012. Encapsulating all the best bits of Arabic cuisine, Layali combines great food, warm hospitality, and relaxing shishas in a setting akin to a Moorish palace. As the midday sun cools off slightly, Layali’s atmosphere transforms into a buzzing hub packed with locals and tourists alike. The food includes salads, cold and hot mezze, charcoal grills and a wide selection of seafood, completed with traditional Lebanese coffee and desserts. As a perfect accompaniment to the great food, there is live tarab music, with the oud taking centre stage. For a true Arabic experience in a city often striving for Western refinement, Layali is the perfect place to relax in style.
Mykonos is an authentic Greek restaurant close to Doha’s waterfront, with some of the best views in the city. Joining the already impressive list of restaurants in the InterContinental Hotel, Mykonos cooks up a selection of traditional Greek dishes in the relaxing Mediterranean-themed interior. The menu includes a range of traditional dishes, from perfectly dressed salads, taramosalata and tzatziki to moussaka. Coming highly recommended are the meat skewers marinated with a creamy and aromatic tzatziki dip. As it is part of a hotel complex, the restaurant can serve alcohol, and does so to full effect through its extensive cocktail menu.
Prime is an essential destination for all steak lovers, and was recently awarded Doha’s No.1 Steakhouse by Time Outin 2013. The restaurant’s ethos is to serve big and bold dishes with a consistently fine selection of different cuts of meat cooked to perfection. Customers choose four cuts: tenderloin, rib-eye, T-bone and striploin from USA Prime, Australian Kobe, or Wagyu. The Wagyu steak is one of the finest in the Middle East, and comes highly recommended. As well as beef steaks, a wider selection of dishes are available, including foie gras, rack of lamb, beef carpaccio and sea bass.
For a truly indulgent experience, visitors to Qatar are recommended to visit Ric’s Kountry Kitchen. A country kitchen would have connotations of a small restaurant with peaceful surroundings; however, this American diner isn’t what you would expect at all. Located in downtown Doha, Ric’s has been an institution in Doha since it opened in 1997, and as a result, is one of the oldest restaurants in the country. The feel-good menu is a pleasingly gluttonous affair, but unlike the greasy burgers you would expect from a diner, everything, including the burger buns, is homemade. Expect big burgers, traditional pancakes, tender steaks, big breakfasts and of course, Ric’s famous apple pie. Ric’s is popular with both locals and expatriates, thanks to its friendly atmosphere typical of a diner in the States.
This restaurant, run by the Michelin star chef Guy Savoy, is a culinary delight in the heart of Doha. The minimalist interior of the restaurant is detailed with sophisticated touches such as the ‘wall of flames,’ which adds a romantic atmosphere to the cozy space. The food is inspired by a number of international cuisines, presented in a wholly unique style. The artichoke and black truffle soup, layered brioche with mushrooms and truffles is an exquisitely presented and indulgent treat.
Inside Doha’s Radisson Blu Hotel, it comes as some surprise to hear that there is a small Chinatown. Creating authentically traditional Chinese cuisine, Ruby Wu’s specialities include steamed chicken and shrimps dumpling (siew mei) and its Szechuan stir-fried prawns and cashew nuts. Located close to some of Doha’s best bars, the restaurant is an ideal stop off before a night out. Serving traditional Chinese dishes from various regions reimagined for western tastes, the service is attentive and, considering prices in Qatar, it is also really good value for money.
Winning best Indian restaurant of the year for four consecutive years, Saffron is regularly cited as one of the best Indian restaurants in the whole of Qatar. Set up in 2009 by Michelin star Chef Vineet Bhatia, the restaurant cooks up a combination of regional dishes. The interior is clad with hues of red, reflecting the colors seen in the spicy and vibrant dishes. One dish in particular, the finger tandoori lamb chops with corn korma biryani rice and pomegranate and mint raita, comes highly recommended. Afterwards, the tea lounge offers a variety of tea blends, a welcomed palate cleanser after the flavorsome main.
Vine mixes the tranquility of Arabian hospitality with everything great about international cuisine. The white marbled interior of the elegant restaurant is illuminated through high arched windows and is an ideal place to relax in the evening. Fresh ingredients are used to create its international buffet, with a huge number of items on the menu. Vine is best known for its Friday Brunch BBQ, which cooks some of the best ribs in town. Combined with the good food, the sweeping views of the Arabian Gulf on the terrace is a perfect way to start your weekend.