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It’s halfway through Ramadan and if you are anything like me, you have “buffet fatigue”. Which is why I’m excited that these three great Doha places are offering iftar menus other than a buffet this Ramadan.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me a buffet, but sometimes you just need something low key and different to break the fast.Here are top three picks for iftar this Ramadan in Doha that are outside the buffet bubble.

Nobu Doha

When I heard that Nobu Doha was staying open this Ramadan it was like music to my jaded ears. To entice new diners and rusted on addicts like myself, they are offering a four course Omakase iftar menu for QR250. It’s light but still offers a taste of Nobu and a way to break your fast without the buffet theatrics. Highlights of the menu include the ever popular rock shrimp, a beautifully cooked beef tenderloin and of course, sushi. My advice is share the mains.

For something a bit extra, the main menu is on offer, with some dishes taking a vacation for the quieter summer months. Fear not you can still order the lush lobster Caesar salad, the tiny tacos stuffed with wagyu or lobster and the black miso cod.

Heads up: Nobu Doha will remain open during the Four Seasons Doha renovations which start in June.

Yugo

Since opening last year this French/Japanese fusion restaurant in The Gate Mall has been packing in the happy diners. There is a lot to like about this place (especially the panko coated deep fried brie, but that’s another post). This Ramadan they are offering a very cool set menu for dumpling lovers. Their dim sum sets are QR55 for a choice of three dim sum with Chinese sweet mantau bun and green tea for QR55. For QR99 you can get the large set which is all six of their dim sum with the Chinese bun and green tea. You can ask for them steamed or deep fried.

My favorites were the unusual seaweed dumpling which is filled with chicken prawns and shitake mushroom sand wrapped in nori. Another favorite was the delicate shrimp shaomai. On my visit the mantau was MIA for some reason but would be an interesting way to end the meal. Each small basket comes with four of the dumplings.

Heads up: This is a light menu and while the bigger set is good to share, those looking for a bit extra can supplement their meal with something off the main menu.

IDAM

For me this is becoming a treasured Ramadan tradition. Iftar at IDAM at the Museum of Islamic Art is a truly unique Doha experience – the food, the location and of course the service all combine to something special. They have again pulled out all stops with their four course menu, which changes weekly throughout the holy month. On our visit we were treated to tiny, crispy samosa filled with crab, mango and ginger as one of the mix of starters. Mains were a meaty wild hammour with green asparagus and a fork tender saddle of lamb with dried fruit.

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Doha’s dining scene can be fickle and driven by fads, as anyone who has seen a line outside the latest specialty coffee house can attest. A few weeks ago I went for my third visit to The Pearl Social at the Kempinksi Marsa Malaz. For a Friday night, the restaurant was at half capacity. The bar (aka the Diver’s Club) upstairs was busy. But the restaurant was not.

Occupying the spot that was once home to the overrated, overpriced and over itself Antica Pesa, the Pearl Social completes the trio of restaurants on the hotel’s mini island. This venue has been hit and miss – the location on the water is stunning. Toro Toro has finally hit its culinary straps after a shaky start, thanks to a new menu and more refined focus. While Nozomi continues to confound – great food and vibe at the start but its high prices tend to deter.

But back to The Pearl Social. To be fair, my first two visits were for the opening and for a visit by its celebrity chef founder Jason Atherton – not indicative of their menu or diner experience.

The space

But a recent Friday saw me book a table with a group of friends on a whim. The outdoor terrace is perhaps one of the best in the city and on this still cool April night it was perfect. the restaurant interior meanwhile is clubby and comfortable and the floor to ceiling windows allow you to experience the view even with the looming Doha summer.

My only quibble with the outdoor space – it’s dark. Very dark. So dark you have to whip out your phone to peer badger-like at the menu. Extra mood lighting came later, but there’s romantic and then there is dark

The menu

On the subject of the menu, it leans heavily on flavors of the Mediterranean with starters, pastas, mains and even a crudo (raw) bar, an interesting risk in this market. It does have one annoying trope that restaurants globally just won’t give up – the tyranny of the “small plates”. Are you meant to share them? Or is it for one person? Can’t you just call them starters? I’m an only child – I hate sharing.

Starters

My food trend issues aside, the small plates on offer are so tempting we almost order all of them (OK now I get the point). A whipped burrata with honey glazed figs and sourdough toast is silky smooth and the fruit is sweet.

Burrata appears again and the prosaic menu description does not do justice a dish of Italian beef tomato and aged balsamic. The tomato had been blanched whole and peeled, encasing the cheese. The almost syrupy vinegar is tart yet smooth – swoon worthy.

A salad of olive oil poached lobster sees tender small medallions stud a melange of shaved fennel and leaves – the aniseed hit of the fennel lifting it beyond just another Doha salad. This was perhaps our most expensive dish,

My favorite dish of the night was a last minute order – salt cod with a slow poached egg and endive. Salt cod is a divisive dish, but i won the argument. The cod was pureed with potato – it was like comfort food had found a new incarnation – the creaminess taken up a notch thanks to the egg.

Mains

The mains on the menu on this visit were classic comfort food. A bowl of casarecce (the twisty pasta), basil, parmesan, pine nuts and rocket (let’s call it pesto ok folks?) was nutty and sharp thanks to the cheese. another bowl came with a deliciously tangy tomato sauce. Both pastas were hand made and al dente – a rare occurrence in this city. My selection of dish and chips was inspired if I do say so myself.

The hammour was just meaty enough for the perfectly crunchy batter that encased it. the chips were crisp and the tartare sauce was clearly house made.

Our appetites didn’t stretch to dessert but a quick word about the wine list. As is all alcohol in Qatar in 2019, it’s expensive. But a few decent bottles hover around the QR200 mark, making it a less painful proposition for a night out. On my most recent visit, service was slow to get started but once the full team was on deck it was seamless, discrete and well informed. My only annoyance is that cocktails, which are offered in the restaurant, are made in the upstairs bar. There was a noticeable delay between ordering and delivery, and they arrived almost at the same time as the first (small) plates of food.

The cost

Starters begin at QR35 and head upwards from there while mains sit at around QR75 for a bowl of pasta, QR160 for fish and QR200 plus for meat like a rack of lamb. These prices put it on par with say, Doha favorite La Spiga.

The verdict

Whether by design or the fickle attitudes of Doha’s diners, the Pearl Social has been under the radar since it opened early in 2019. Either way this is a shame. This is simple, accessible but beautifully executed food in a setting many restaurateurs in this city would walk over broken glass for. this has been one of my best meals of the year food wise. Put bluntly the Pearl Social is the best restaurant in Doha you have never been to – and you should change that as soon as possible.

The details

The Pearl Social by Jason Atherton

Marsa Malaz Kempinski

The Pearl Doha

+974 4035 5300 or email reservations@pearlsocialdoha.com

*While I have been a guest of Pearl Social (at their opening party and during the Qatar International Food Festival) on previous occasions this review is based on a meal I paid for myself.

The post Is The Pearl Social the Best Restaurant in Doha You Have Never Been To? appeared first on Life on the Wedge.

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Here we are again – Ramadan 2019. While I do love seeing Doha come alive during the long Ramadan nights (and in 2019 the days will also be long and hot!), it’s nice to have some quality, convenient (and pocket friendly) options around Doha for dining out during the day, especially on weekends.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of places to eat during Ramadan – rather my recommendations. For that you can check my friends at Marhaba for a full list of Ramadan offerings as they occur and 24hrfoodie team for reviews and photos. you can also find excellent coverage of Ramadan in Time Out Doha.

I will however, be showcasing a couple of my favorite Ramadan venues (some not in hotels!) in coming weeks – stay tuned for that! But in the meantime, here is my of top Doha places to eat out during the day in Doha in Ramadan 2019.


1. The Social At Fraser Suites

Tucked away inside the Art Deco inspired Fraser Suites West Bay is a little foodie gem. While the dining room itself is pretty blan, the food isn’t. The Social has a menu of comfort food favorites like burgers, pastas and salads – some a little offbeat but all tasty. There is a daily breakfast buffet but the a la carte is where the action is.

Try the perfectly portioned butter chicken sliders or the Asian flavored braised beef short rib. The spicy prawn starer also gives PF Changs a run for their money.

2. Le Colonial at Al Wadi Hotel

I’m calling it – this could be the find of the Summer. A breakfast only hotel restaurant. Outside of Ramadan hours it’s open 6am to 3pm and has a huge menu of breakfast favorites. During Ramadan it will serve breakfast from 6am to 11am then lunch. With views of the Souq and a quirky dining room, this is going to be become a regular haunt for me. The menu spans breakfast faves like Eggs Benedict, pancakes and waffles and breakfast sandwiches. I would recommend the Royal Eggs Benedict which is salmon, perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise topped with truffle. Coffee is good, service is even better. Be sure to check out the decor – there is a replica of the old Qatar Post Office post boxes.

3. Quick Bites at Marriott Marquis

One of the most popular venues for this time of year, this West Bay casual hotspot is back for more this year. Its menu has had a revamp – still mainly burgers, sandwiches, salads, pastas and flatbreads but with a more creative twist. the cafe itself is spacious (if a little soulless), has valet parking and service is always great. I love their take on Eggs Benedict with salmon and a hearty hashbrown as well as their Cruffin (a hybrid of muffin and croissant)this place gets busy, especially on weekend, so book ahead or go early. 

4. Santa Monica Breakfast Club at Grand Hyatt Doha

This has become one of the hottest spots for a weekend breakfast in town. As the name suggested, it’s “breakfast heavy” but you will easily find something you will like. With fun and funky interiors, this is not your usual “all day dining” hotel offering, it’s open until sunset when their excellent Thai restaurant Isaan takes over. And some good news – they will be offering their budget busting QR100 breakfast buffet during Ramadan.

5. Elements Doha

This Asian-inspired restaurant at the Four Seasons Doha is a good idea all year round. With a menu spanning Indian, Chinese, Asian and Arabic favorites it’s a crowd pleaser without sacrificing on quality – this is a first rate spot for dining out during the day in Ramadan in Doha. I can highly recommend their handmade dumplings, black pepper beef and their Peking Duck. Oh, and of course their sushi is some of the best in town!

BUT in other breaking news, Nobu Doha will open at sunset this Ramadan. They will be offering a special Omakase menu (chef’s choice) as well as a la carte.

6. Mykonos at Intercontinental Doha

While I’m not sure there will be any plate smashing going on, Mykonos at the Intercontinental Doha is a welcome addition to the Ramadan dining roster. a menu of Greek favorites and a sunny outlook, this will brighten any day. Its menu is simple and traditional a flaky and moreish cheese and spinach pie, moussaka even a Greek mama would approve of and a selection of tender and perfectly prepared souvlaki are star picks. And, if you have the iDine app – which gives you many offers at the hotel including 241 and discounts – you can use it to make it an even better deal!

7. Sel & Miel at Ritz Carlton Doha

It may be Doha’s Doha’s newest restaurant but is also one of the most impressive at the moment. The old Porcini (RIP) has been transformed into a French brasserie – complete with woven chairs and Golden Age stylings. A full review of the menu is to come soon, but in the meantime PLEASE check out the excellent brasserie menu – I can’t think of a similar experience in Doha right now.

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Dining out in Qatar when you are gluten free can be a minefield. But the good news is that restaurants and cafes in Qatar are finally starting to cater to special diets like those who are gluten free as well as food intolerances. This is not only great for those who previously have been left scrambling, it also makes great business sense.

While I am lucky not to have to deal with any major allergies (as a food blogger this is a blessing!), this post is in response to many requests from readers who wanted to know what their gluten free options were. It was an enlightening experience for me – being gluten free is not just about cutting out wheat. Many sauces and additives contain gluten, kitchens are teeming with flour and other gluten derivatives. It’s EVERYWHERE people! also, specifically gluten-free products can be expensive.

But these nine places in Qatar – restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and more – all offer great gluten free options or products either on the menu or by request.

1. Lulu Hypermarkets

Not a restaurant or a cafe, but the Lulu chain (which grows bigger weekly – a new store on B Ring road just opened and another off D Ring is in the works!), has one of the biggest gluten free ranges in the city – hundreds of items on the shelves.

Their Messila store in particular is well stocked with products from gluten free flour to pastas and more. Check out their shelves for the “Free From” signs for a range of internationally recognized brands – with many gluten free.

2. CUT by Wolfgang Puck

Not only has this restaurant got some serious foodie creds, the team has also built a reputation for offering creative and tasty food for a range of different diets ad is perhaps the go to place for gluten free dining in Qatar. This is a steakhouse so the grills and steaks are always a winner, but inform the team about your preference and they will whip something up. Absolutely do yourself a favor and order the wild mushroom soup topped with toasted almonds (this can also be made vegan).

CUT Doha steak 3. Cafe 999

Being right on Al Bidda Park and with ample outdoor seating, this place has a great location and vibe. But it also has some gluten free options (and some vegan ones as well!) on the menu. Check out their breakfast items – shakshouka (hold the bread – or better still, give it to me!) as well as their Spanish tortilla – as well as their salads for a quick lunch with a view.

4. Q Lounge at Anantara

Take yourself on a little mini holiday away from Doha to Banana Island and to the very underrated Q Lounge. While the menu spans Indian, Arabic and international cuisines (their mixed grill is exceptional as is their butter chicken) they pride themselves in catering to special diets and gluten free diners. Call ahead or ask the team on the day what can be done beyond the menu.

5. La Spiga

This was a bit of a revelation, I had always assumed an Italian restaurant would be gluten heavy. But shame on me, they have many gluten free options such as their Melanzane (eggplant) with mozzarella, beef carpaccio and many of their main courses including their crispy roasted spring chicken. Their sister restaurant, Paper Moon on Airport Road is similarly accommodating (and has a lovely terrace – so bonus!). Special note – there is also a special menu at Market Doha for those with allergies or on special diets. They have adapted their popular chicken recipe to be coated in cauliflower as well as other dishes.

6. Pool Grill at Four Seasons Doha

The international breakfast menu here is a gluten free star with quinoa porridge, poached eggs with yogurt and hot smoked salmon.

Heading into lunch and dinner also offers some terrific options like an organic quinoa and seared tuna salad with creamy goat cheese and beetroot and a portobello mushroom and mozzarella wrap. Gluten free items are clearly marked n the menu and you can also ask the team.

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It’s the restaurant with the Russian name and pan-Asian menu. Beloved of celebrities and the brainchild of a main who is mates with Vladimir Putin, I did want to not like Novikov Doha. But I was also curious – the first “big name” to open alongside Galleries Lafayette in Katara’s faux European boulevard 21 High Street (admit it, you also want to say 21 Jump Street).Also the final restaurant in the much anticipated quartet of openings in Doha over the last six months and the reviews had ranged from rapturous to tepid.

This is also a market crowded with pan-Asian and Japanese restaurant, many of them excellent. Did we need another one?

The welcome

We arrived at peak Saturday lunch time, without a booking and hoping a winning smile and a touch of luck would get us a table. The greeting warm and friendly. We were immediately shown to a table with a view of both the room and the impressive fish market display. I should talk about this – it really is the centerpiece to an already visually appealing room. Piled up with fresh fish, crustaceans and a bounty of vegetables, you can’t help but be drawn to it.We were quickly furnished with the restaurant’s free “shot of the day” – be warned there is no alcohol here – it was pomegranate juice served with a small selection of crudites and a tangy dipping sauce. Free snacks? I’m interested.

The menu

The menu is large. If it wasn’t for the fact the type is small, it would easily run to two or more pages. It runs the gamut of sushi, raw dishes, real caviar, dumplings, cooked seafood, wok dishes and a few meat and veggie dishes for good measure. To be frank the menu was overwhelming – I didn’t know where to start so had to seek guidance from our excellent waiter. We ordered a selection of what the waiter called “guest favorites” as well as our own preferences. You can also choose your own seafood or fish and have it cooked to order – wok fried, grilled, steamed.

The food

A starter of mini Wagyu tacos (you can’t open a restaurant in Doha without mini tacos it seems) hit the spot – the shells stuffed to the brim with tender meat. A duck salad was next up and honestly, the star performer of the entire meal. We ordered because we had seem these plates, piled to a dizzying height with fresh greens, delivered to other tables. I had feared it would be all show and no go, but once delivered, the waiter starts his show – shredding the duck tableside and mixing the salad with its hoisin dressing. A heady ix of sweet, salty, savory and umami.

From the dumpling menu we chose chicken buns, a suggestion from the waiter. I was expecting the glutenous buns you get a dim sum, more casing than filling. We were proved wrong, the lightly spiced chicken filling was matched well with the fluffy, read like covering. I also liked that there were four – perfect for two or sharing between four. Nobody likes to be THAT person taking the third dumpling, or worse, missing out. I also find this is a cheeky way restaurants get you to order up.

Maki rolls came next. The shrimp tempura roll (call me basic but for me this roll a yardstick for a decent sushi spread) was still warm. It was covered with slithers of fresh avocado – a decent rendition of a crowd favorite. The highlight of this course was a scallop jalapeno roll – stuffed with the raw scallop and accompanied by a kicky sauce. It was delicate yet not overwhelmed by the chili.

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Who needs a reason to enjoy happy hour in Doha? Certainly not me. We survived the “Great Alcohol Tax Earthquake” of 2019 and as predicted by Life on the Wedge, things are starting to settle down. That means more happy hours, more deals and well…more fun for Doha’s foodie crowd. Here’s a list of six new happy hours in Doha I’m loving right now and you must try:

  1. Tanoshi at Nobu at Four Seasons Doha

You have to hand it to Nobu Doha – it maintains it’s well earned place at the top of the Doha dining pyramid thanks to its commitment to spicing things up in terms of menus and offers, yet remaining true to its brand. In line with this Nobu have revamped their VERY popular happy hour menu. The Tanoshi happy hour runs from Sunday to Friday 6pm to 8pm and drinks (selected cockatils, beer wine and spirits) start from QR45 and snacks (because we are all here for the snacks) from QR45. The bites menu is a revelation and standalone from the main menu. Highlights include avocado caviar (yes veggies, something for you!) and Nobu-style fish and chips.

Must order: Japanese gimlet and the beef short ribs with wasabi zuba.

2. Cut by Wolfgang Puck

This is an underrated happy hour in an equally underrated restaurant. It has one of my favorite bar set-ups in the city. Their daily happy hour is QR195 for unlimited drinks (beer, wine and a couple of cocktails) between 5pm and 8pm. For another QR80 you can order three bites created by Chef Ben Small. The menu is short and sharp and includes favorites like the tomato arancini.

Must order: Blinded by rainbows cocktail (gin people!) and the Australian wagyu beef sliders.

3. Monkey Tale Doha

I’m not one for beach bars when I am not on holidays (call me old fashioned) but this brand spanking new bar has caught my attention. On the beach at the Grand Hyatt Doha, happy hour is 5pm to 8pm Tuesday to Saturday. Also on Saturdays, ladies get three drinks free. with its beach location it’s the perfect spot for sundowners and they have a DJ and live entertainment

Must order: this place is about the vibe and location but has some great bites as well – try the pizza!

4. Zengo Doha

Not only has Zengo Doha improved immeasurably in recent months, it also has the earliest happy hour in town. Sunday to Thursday from 4pm to 9pm and Fridays from 4pm to 11pm. It’s hard to go past the views across the city and the very chilled vibe.

Must order: The cocktails are the stars here.

5. STK

Whoooosh. That is the noise STK Doha made entering the Doha dining market. What an entrance it was. While the menu is pretty standard steakhouse fare, the atmosphere is like nothing else in the city. Full credit to them for also creating a set of deals (like their early dinner set menu) to bring in a diverse crowd. Their new daily Social Hour menu runs from 6pm to 8pm in the bar and lounge (don’t worry, it’s just as glam as the dining room). Bites start from QR25 and include their signature soft shell crab sliders and parmesan truffle fries. Cocktails are QR49 each. Fast becoming a favorite and a worthy mention in this list of six new happy hours.

Must order: STK spritz (it has APEROL) and the Madagascar Prawn ceviche.

  • Mini burgs
  • Hubba hubba
  • STK Doha – dare to be different

6. La Vista 55

A little slice of Havana in Doha – albeit 55 floors above the city. This is the surprise packet of all the big openings over the last 12 months. they have managed to turn at space that was at one time dreary. A Caribbean makeover with fun murals and real Cuban staff, it’s great fun. Every Tuesday it is Mojito Loco from 5pm to 2am. Mojitos for QR45 and pitchers for QR185. Tequila! They also have a regular daily happy hour from 5pm to 8pm.

  • cocktails for days
  • Cubanos!
  • Havana Nights

Must order: Ummmmm mojitos (and any of the Cuban specialties in the normal happy hour) and the dreamy yuca fries.

So, that’s six new (ish) happy hours for you to try in coming months. Have I missed any?

The post Six New Doha Happy Hours You Must Try Right Now appeared first on Life on the Wedge.

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Wait…wasn’t it just February a red hot minute ago? April is here already and frankly I am not ready for it. Just a few weeks until Ramadan, Summer is looming and….Well, at least we have some amazing new restaurants, menus and dining concepts in Doha to ease us through the transition.Here is Life on the Wedge’s Doha dining hit list – your top eating and drinking in tips for April (new addition this month – a price guide) so there is no excuse not to eat well this month:

  1. Izu

It took me two visits but this restaurant at the brand spanking new Mandarin Oriental Doha has grown on me. The menu of both upstairs and downstairs is drawn from the Mediterranean – Italy, France, Spain, Greece. Downstairs is a more casual all day dining (and dry), upstairs is more formal (and licensed). On a recent visit I devoured a well executed lobster pasta – huge chunks of the shellfish lightly coated in a tangy tomato sauce. a mushroom risotto that is both earthy and funky in all the right ways.

The Spanish style cheese croquettes were crunchy and the creamy filling steaming hot and a burrata salad is a fresh start to your meal. The service upstairs is old school white table cloths and I especially loved the touch of serving the bread with hunks of freshly cut and juicy tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil.

There is also a secret bar up here, hidden behind an obscure door – it can fit maybe 12 at a squeeze and has all the speakeasy feels. The downstairs has an outdoor cafe that takes full advantage of the incredible open air square and the outside cooling system. While they have an excellent dessert list, I recommend you head to Gelato where the chefs there are shaking up the dessert scene. the icecream is made on premises and concoctions include medjool date, local honey and kiwi fruit.

I -scream you scream…

Must eat: the lobster pasta and duck and quinoa salad

Price guide: starters from QR65; mains from QR90

Details: Izu, Mandarin Oriental, Msherib, Doha

2. La Parisienne

A slice of Paris in Doha – this boulangerie has opened in the Intercontinental Doha the City and is an instant hit. All items – including croissants, pastries, elaborate cakes and concoctions and even quiches and pate encroutes are baked on the premises.

The space (located on the serviced apartment side of the hotel) has been given a makeover with fun belle epoche murals and service staff in black dresses and aprons. Kitsch? Yes, but the food is worth it. I love the custardy salmon quiche I tried and the croissants are perfect for a quick breakfast.

They have a range of special offers throughout the day – eg juice, coffee and two viennoiseries for QR49 for breakfast. And you want to know the kicker? Not only is it open until 10pm, it’s also licensed. Yep, you can have a cheeky glass of red with your quiche on the way home.

Must order: The decedent Paris Brest pastry and the traditional pate en croute

Price guide: Pastries start from QR12, the more elaborate ones from QR25.

La Parisienne, Intercontinental Doha – The City, West..

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Here we are again – it’s the 10th Qatar International Food Festival. New venue and new restaurants and a new vibe. I braved the first day crowds to source what I think are the top five must interesting and tasty dishes on offer in 2019. As a price indication, dishes range from QR10 through to QR45 – pretty good value.

Here’s my list (and stick around for some real talk at the end) of what to eat at the Qatar International Food Festival 2019…

  • QIFF is back
  1. Beef short rib sandwich at Arnag

The breakout star of the food Festival a couple of years ago, this Al Wakra eatery has returned in 2019 with an amped up menu and some seriously great flavors. The short ribs are braised with a smokey chipotle adobo and topped with peppers and two types of (proper) cheese. Encased in toasted sourdough bread this is the sandwich of my dreams. It’s big enough to share, but I wouldn’t.

2. Buratta with olive oil and balsamic by Colosseum Doha

Essentially the company that supplies many of the best ingredients to the city’s restaurants, this year they have come with the goods. The fresh pastas are made in Doha (select your own sauce and type of noodle) and earthy mushroom soup were spot on, but there was something super decadent about eating buratta at a food festival finished with oilive oil and a balsamic drizzle, a great starter!

Cheese please!

3. Crispy yuzu shrimp sushi bowl by W Doha

One of a handful of hotels participating this year, yet again W doha nails what the people will want. This little bowl of perfection has it all – crispy fried shrimp, a comforting bed of rice and accompaniments including edamame. The tangy citrus yuzu brings it all together. Easy to eat on the slow walk around the venue.

Bowl of soul

4. Eggplant and tahini grilled cheese at Halo

If you thought Halo were all about the grammable donuts, think again. Their festival offering includes a selection of grilled cheese and this combination, on paper, shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s a literal savory flavor bomb for QR40 and made to order. It’s also a whopping size and easily shareable (although you may not want to). I definitely want to check this place out post-festival.

beautiful mess

5. Chicken karage at Four Seasons Doha

Japanese style fried chicken…where have you been all my life? It’s marinated and double fried so you get the spice as well as the tender chicken. the flavor is brought out by a drizzle of lemon at the end. Deceptively simple, this is a great starter dish before you attack the rest of the menus. Heads up – next week the Four Seasons brings the Nobu menu to QIFF

Winner winner

Special mentions: Safahat, the cafe inside the Qatar National Library, is quietly serving up great coffee but their cakes are the stars. On the menu this week is their pumpkin spice cake – a dreamy mix of fall flavors. The Westin Doha is showcasing their excellent Thai restaurant this week. Their shrimp seaweed wrap is a surprise taste hit – deep fried in a light tempura batter, it’s all prawn.

  • Scenes from QIFF 2019

Now, I know you want to know…in terms of experience, what is the festival like. Well here are some observations, admittedly made on one visit on the opening day of the festival.

  1. The venue is HUGE. There is the main area comprising of three sections – in itself huge. then there is the food truck area and a small hike away is Torba Farmers Market. Wear sneakers. Bring water. Be prepared to walk.
  2. Parking and access on the first day was…chaotic. Wherever you park there is a hike to the venue(s). I came in Gate 5, as instructed, was almost thwarted by traffic. Once inside parking in that area is plentiful and underground. you can also park near Torba – but it is a long walk to the main venue. Hindering the flow of traffic is construction, confusing signs and security waving people in different directions. Be patient or take a cab.
  3. Toilets are on the perimeter of the venues and again, walking is involved.
  4. To me, while this is physically the biggest festival, the offering was not as diverse as previous years. There were some standout dishes (as above), but many big name hotels missing (this is also not a bad thing – but I do think it’s nice otherwise expensive hotels offer their food at reasonable prices in a festival), enabling the smaller vendors to shine), but not exactly enough for multiple repeat visits.
  5. The layout of the venue is not diner-friendly. For example, each section is grouped so you cant get a “full meal” in it. Coffee vendors and cafes are in one area, those selling main dishes and more substantial offerings, are in another. and again, the size of the place means you cant wander around, grab a few things and sit and eat...
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It’s hard to believe the Qatar International Food Festival is now in its’ 10th year – but here we are again. Running from 20 March until 30 March, it promises to be bigger and better than previous years. Before you head out to indulge and enjoy, here’s Life on the Wedge’s essential guide to making the most of the festival and having a delicious time.

  1. This year’s festival is at Oxygen Park at Qatar Foundation

Another year, another venue change. In terms of space (13,000 square meters) this seems to be the biggest festival yet. Oxygen Park at Education City is a sprawling location. Parking is located underground and you can enter through gate 2 or 5 and timings are 3pm to 12am weekdays and 3pm to 1am on weekends. The festival activities are located across three spaces – including a stage for the celebrity chefs and a family-friendly area. Food prices will range from QR5 to QR 40. My advice? Do a circuit and then go back to your favorites – also reserve a seat at a table if possible or bring a blanket and go picnic-style.

  • Boa wow wow

2. There will be 160 food and beverage stalls this year

Along with some of the city’s best know hotels, there will be dozens of much loved restaurants. Around 15 percent of the space has also been dedicated to up and coming outlets and home businesses – so there will be something for every taste and budget.

Coffee corner

3. Speaking of celebrity chefs…

There is a lot of interest in the celebrity chef contingent coming along this year. There are more than 30 visiting Doha for the festival with some holding court of center stage at Oxygen Park. For the beIn celebrities (including chefs Siba and Jenny Morris from South Africa), click here for registration and the schedule. Some luxe restaurants across Doha are offering diners a unique opportunity to join internationally-acclaimed chefs for an interactive cooking and tasting experience through QIFF Chef’s Table. Sessions feature the excellent US chef Richard Sandoval at his Toro Toro Restaurant, Francesco Scala and Shane Macneill at Novikov Doha, Chef Eric Lanlard at Astor Grill and Jason Atherton at Pearl Social Restaurant. There are 12 to 20 seats available per table and the per person cost ranges from QR500 to QR1000. Bookings can be made through the hotels directly.

4. Fans of Torba Farmers Market can visit it every day during the festival

Yasssss! The ever popular Torba Farmer’s Market will be open daily for the duration of the festival in the same location (the Ceremonial Court). This will include their popular farm-to-table concept.

5. If you can’t make it out to the venue, you can still enjoy a taste of the festival.

Restaurants and cafes are offering an exclusive three course QIFF 2019 Menu consisting of a starter, main course and dessert, at discounted prices of QR45, QR95 and QR125. Among these, 35 restaurants are in hotels, 16 inside malls and over 40 are standalone restaurants. Check out a list of participating venues here.

Stay tuned on Thursday for my yearly list of essential eats at this year’s #QIFF2019 and make sure you are following me on Instagram and Facebook for live updates and exclusive offers.

The post Five Things to Know About the 2019 Qatar International Food Festival appeared first on Life on the Wedge.

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That escalated quickly! It’s March already and frankly I am still unprepared. Luckily there are some great drinking and dining options around Qatar to ease me into the stark reality of a new month. This month’s list focuses mainly on outdoor venues – we all know summer is fast approaching so lets enjoy this while we can. Here’s where you should be dining out in Doha this month:

  1. Lo Spaghetto

A longtime cult favorite which I have recently rediscovered. It’s on the list because of the well executed Italian and crossover classics but also for its sublime outside dining area.

Secret garden

A rarity in Doha, this tree fringed venue is dreamy and the perfect place to enjoy the dwindling days of cooler weather. The food does what it says on the tin – but for me it’s really about that terrace. You would never guess this restaurant was just a stone’s throw from one of the most manic streets in the city!

Oodles of noodles

Must order: The seafood spaghetti is a pescatarian’s dream and the mushroom risotto earthy and satisfying.

Four Seasons Doha Friday Brunch

The big Daddy of Doha brunches has upped its game…again.
We all know brunch is an expensive proposition in Doha now because of the tax hikes. So hotels offering brunch have to work harder to make it good value for diners.


With 17 live stations including fresh seafood (including one cooking bowls of steaming mussels to order), Mexican, Chinese (where you can watch the chef create your meal via a go pro strapped to his head) and Arabic and Indian grills.Other favorites were a Peking duck station and a cheese room (yes a room). Drink options are many and varied – there is a roving margarita cart as well as one serving three kinds of sangria. You can also prop up the gin bar or just choose wine, beer or sparkling.
Brunch is QR540 with alcohol and the set up works well for big groups as well as couples (and there is a kids club).

The price is QR540 including alcohol but in terms of bang for your dining buck – this brunch is hard to beat

Must order: the Peking Duck and the Indian curries. Actually, everything. Pace yourself

Breakfast at Sultan Brahim

This could be one of the best kept secrets in Doha’s dining scene – and I don’t say that lightly. Located poolside at the St Regis, this Lebanese restaurant recently started serving breakfast.

Breakfast spread

Grab an outside seat on the terrace and order from the short and sharp menu of Middle Eastern breakfast classics. The shakshouka has a great hit of spice and their famous hoummous (which takes three days to make) is creamy and moreish. You can indulge in shisha (if that’s your poison) and dishes are well priced (QR35 to QR40) and they even have set menus.

Redefining comfort food

Must order: The fatteh with meat with its mix of textures and flavors is comfort food in a bowl.

With two new hotels opening in Doha this month, there is bound to be more to indulge in. also keep an eye out for my updated guide to the best brunches in Doha – coming soon! Happy March Madness!

The post Your March 2019 Dining Hit List – Where to Eat and Drink in Doha this Month appeared first on Life on the Wedge.

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