Dining in Doha

diningOriginal Post: December 11, 2015

Finally, I’m sitting down to tell you about my fantastic dining experiences over the last few weeks. Each experience was quite delightful. I’ll tell you all about Jones the Grocer @jtgdoha, Opal by Gordon Ramsay, @GrodonRamsay Gordon Ramsay Fine Dining and Hakkasan.

I’ll start with Jones the Grocer. Now, when I’ve heard people talk about this place, I was confused by the name so I had to get a little history on @jtgdoha. It’s a gourmet restaurant that was started in Australia in 1996. They have locations in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, UAE, and Qatar. You can get anything from fancy salads with octopus to pecan tarts. They have a little bit of everything. It wasn’t until my third visit that I realized they had a full dinner menu; only because my prior visits was for the purpose of having coffee. Any I must say, the coffee is splendid.

To start, this place is super trendy. It reminds me of many of the restaurants in Portland, OR. You walk into a place that is warm with the dark floors, yet hip with the wooden tables and metal chairs. You’re surrounded by deliciousness: beautiful pastries, fresh sandwiches and salads, and a fancy cheese room (you can buy the cheese). They offer a variety of specialty drinks as well. The food menu I will describe as small but mighty. My colleague had a nice fresh salad with chicken; simple but very good. I had the mushroom risotto and added chicken. It was a very good portion and is served with two nice sliced of toasted bread. I must say, it was a very fresh dish and of course it was filling. I’d go so far to say that it is the best risotto I’ve ever had. The staff are very friendly and actually attentive. If you’ve eaten out in Doha at all, you’ll know how rare it is to have staff who are good. So I really appreciate this about JTG. This is a little place that’s close to home with great food at a great value. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone wanting a nice fresh meal in a trendy spot.

So let’s move on to Gordon Ramsay’s Opal at the St. Regis. One thing stands out to me about this place right off the bat: it’s always empty. This seems to be a symptom of many restaurants in Doha. It actually saddens me to see this. The place is a nice venue, well designed with a descent menu. The service could be a bit faster which always baffles me when the place isn’t really busy.

On to the food: I can’t say that I’ve had a lot there but I have had the potato & leek soup and had to try the red snapper ceviche. The soup is okay. I felt as if it needed a bit more flavor. As for ceviche, it was intriguing to me because I’ve never seen a snapper ceviche. Well, it was a well designed dish as an appetizer. It was lime with wasabi, tomatoes, and red onions. It really did melt in my mouth. My only critique is that the portion was too big for an appetizer. This seems to be a trend at the GR restaurants as you’ll see in the next review. Overall, I think Opal may be worth a try if you’re wanting the GR experience. The menu has enough items that should suite any pallet. If all else fails, just order the pasta or a pizza. It’s hard to screw that up.

Now…Gordon Ramsay Fine Dining: the place that almost no one knows exists. Why? Because it’s hidden behind these huge double white doors that takes 2 buff grown men to open (exaggerating a bit J). Again, this place is plagued by Doha Empty Resturaunt Syndrome too. However, it was a very pleasant dining experience. I won a contest at work and the prize was dinner for two at a restaurant of my choice. Of course I would choose one of GR’s places because I’ve been dying to try them. For the record, the prices weren’t that bad. The ambiance was cool. I really appreciated the fact that some thought went into the seating arrangements at tables for two. They had a nice little curved loved seat so you could actually sit next to your date if you had one.

What I can say about this place is that it was a show. We had a few different servers. We had several different “treats” (I’m sure there’s some fancy name for this) compliments of the chef before the appetizers ever came out. It was definitely nice and most were tasty. Aside from those distracting items, I started with a scallop appetizer. The waiter said the scallops were prepared 3 different ways: raw, seared, and then in a little dot as decoration on the plate but they were a good dots. The portion was huge though. It was about the size of a small saucer. I could only eat half because even though it was good, the texture of the raw scallops was getting to me. My main course was lobster. It was served with grilled zucchini, which immediately made me think of my garden at home. The presentation of the lobster was very elaborate. The waiter brought it to the table in a hot pot and removed it form the shell in dramatic fashion then poured some fancy sauce on top. I must say that it was very good. We decided not to have dessert. Shortly after, we were presented a smoking tray of mini desserts…courtesy of the chef I’m sure. They were served on a cake plate with dry ice captured in the dish somehow. It was a beautiful display of dessert and it was good. My favorite was the mini cheesecake that really melted in my mouth.

Now I’ve saved the best for last. Hakkasan in Doha at the St. Regis specializes in Cantonese cuisine. This place is amazing! After you walk to the end of the sidewalk and think perhaps you’ve made a wrong turn, the abstractly decorated glass door opens to reveal a space that you’d surely expect to find in Shanghai.  The décor truly takes you to a place outside of Doha. You forget where you are. Next, it’s so obvious that the staff isn’t your typical Doha staff. I felt as if I were getting service in a high end US restaurant. They were attentive, knowledgeable and a bit witty. It was a nice change to have good service. Hakkasan is also popular with the locals.

With such a beautiful place, hopes were high for the quality and taste of the food. They don’t disappoint. I’ve had the following: crab and sweet corn soup, vegetable fried rice, wagyu beef, spicy prawns with curry lemongrass sauce, and pot stickers. The soup was amazing. It was perfectly flavored and left nothing to be desired. It was that perfect consistency too. The fried rice, plated tableside by our fabulous waitress, was excellent; not that greasy panda express or corner Chinese restaurant rice, but excellent fried rice. The shrimp, while there were only a few, was a filling dish and it was very good. The pot stickers were perfectly prepared as well. I haven’t had a chance to try the dim sum but I hear it’s excellent.

Whew! So that’s my overview of my latest dining experiences. Thanks for reading!

Until next time…

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