Sarab Lounge, St Regis

It’s always a good sign when a food display makes you go ‘wow’ and this was our reaction when we entered Sarab Tea Lounge at the St Regis and saw the beautiful display for afternoon tea

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We had booked for 2.30pm and it was obvious when we arrived the staff were very busy with 2 large groups as well as a variety of couples and families. As a result the service was not as good as I would have expected as we had to wait to be seated, were then left  unattended so had to catch the servers attention to ask for a menu and then to order. I was a bit concerned as the menu we were given didn’t include any reference to afternoon tea as I wanted to use my Entertainer Voucher but we were assured that the voucher could be used for the afternoon tea buffet which is available on a Saturday. Once we ordered tea – a pot of English breakfast for me and a pot of mint infused water for Rachel – off we went to fill our faces plates.

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The presentation of the food added to the appeal. It was laid out on a large, central table and decorated vintage style with flowers, miss matched cake stands, fresh fruit, jars of sweeties, and a wide range of sandwiches and desserts. I liked the concept of a buffet as I actually prefer savoury food so I could select more sandwiches and Rachel could satisfy her sweet tooth with cakes, macrons, tarts, scones and éclairs. It also meant less food waste as you only choose what you like and could actually eat – much to Greg’s disappointment I didn’t end up bringing a bag of desserts home that I didn’t like!

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The food itself was good, everything was fresh and replenished regularly, I particularly liked the feta and watermelon ‘sandwich’ and the lemon curd biscuits. The service also improved throughout the afternoon and we were offered a top up on our tea or a coffee instead, the staff were friendly and offered recommendations on what to try. I do think it would have been helpful to have more labels on the food to help people with allergies; very few of the desserts were labelled so it was a bit of a guessing game, it would also be useful to have spare cutlery nearby so you can help yourself. The lounge had a lovely, relaxing atmosphere with very comfortable furniture and the sound of the harpist playing; it is designed to feel spacious yet cosy at the same time.

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The bill for 2 people was 195QR as I used my Entertainer voucher which I thought was excellent value and I will be using my other vouchers before 2015 is out!

Sarab Lounge - The St. Regis Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ipanema, Marriott Marquis


‘ Brunch is a marathon not a sprint’  was the pep talk I overheard from one of the tables at the Ipanema brunch on Friday, I wish I taken this advice. I had read good reviews of this Brazilian Churrascaria styled restaurant and we were keen to try it especially as we can see the restaurant from lounge and involves very little effort getting there ( our car had broken down that morning). The atmosphere when we walked in set the scene nicely – a lively bar area, carnival head dresses on display and a samba band. We received a warm welcome and the concept of the Rodizio service was explained to us as were the different price options available.

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Drinks swiftly arrived and so did a bread basket with delicious warm cheesy rolls, a small pair of tongs and reversible cards to indicate whether you wanted more food bringing over (green) or if you wanted a brunch break (red). We headed to the buffet first which was well presented with an array of Brazilian inspired dishes, sushi, oysters, salads, breads, soups, desserts and cheeses. The buffet is available throughout brunch and you can just help yourself to whatever you want.

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As we returned to our table we had been served tapioca, fried bananas, beans and polenta in small dishes to compliment the meat then, the stars of the show arrived, and continued to arrive at regular intervals throughout the next 3 hours. Huge skewers offering various cuts of lamb, beef and chicken cooked and seasoned perfectly, bowls of braised short ribs, plates of lobster and cinnamon roasted pineapple. Wow, it was meat heaven! I particularly liked the deliciously tender braised short rib and the garlic infused beef. As the meat was sliced you caught it with the small tongs provided and, at first,  it seems a bit odd only being served one slice,  but you soon realise it is very filling and the staff are constantly checking if you want more by looking at the green and red cards on the table.

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After a bit of a meat overload I had a dessert break, the carrot cake was fantastic especially the frosting and I shamefully admit to eating a couple of spoonfuls of Dulce de Leche sauce on its own it was so good. After a short rest we chose the cuts of meat we had liked the most for a final plateful – by now we could barely move, and after the last plate, both quickly turned our cards to red.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our brunch, the quality of the food was excellent, the service was fun and friendly, the atmosphere was very lively, it had a nice buzz. Even though we went as a couple it would also be great for a bigger group and families – the children seemed happy trying on the carnival head dresses and dancing to the band.

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Brunch is priced at 260QR which includes soft drinks or 335QR for a package which includes wine, beer and cocktails which I thought was good value especially as neither of us ate anything else for the rest of the day! If anyone is planning a Christmas party this would be a great place, we will definitely go back.

Ipanema - Marriott Marquis Doha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thai Cooking Class at Isaan, Grand Hyatt

The ‘ Thai Me Up’ slogan on our aprons was a humorous start to our Thai cooking class at Isaan in the Grand Hyatt. After a welcome drink on arrival our small group of 6 quickly found ourselves in the kitchen with our aprons and chefs hats on clutching our recipes books.

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We were given a brief introduction to the chefs we would be working with and the first demo was for Chicken in Pandan Leaves. Chef showed us how to prepare the chicken, marinate it then wrap it in the Pandan Leaves ready to be steamed and deep fried – then it was our go. It was much more difficult than it looked and the result didn’t resemble the perfect triangles we had been shown but the staff were on hand to guide us and laugh at/ with us until we eventually got the hang of it, even if our ‘triangles’ had 5 edges! We then got to taste the ones which had been prepared earlier and they were delicious especially with a deep, syrupy soy sauce.

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Next we moved on to dessert, Banana in Coconut Milk and while it was not very complex, chef talked through the various elements and how the dish is traditionally prepared and eaten. Our final two dishes were Red Curry and Fried Rice. We went over to the second kitchen with the proper Wok stations and we were given a demonstration show how to make Chicken Curry which was making our mouths water as our appetites grew.  One of the highlights of the afternoon was the wok demonstration – the huge flames from the wok and the skill of the chef handling the ingredients, controlling the flame and water whilst producing delicious fried rice. Needless to say our efforts weren’t quite as good – those woks are deceptively heavy!

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Once the demonstrations were over we all sat down together and ate what we had made, then we received a certificate for our participation.

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It was a lovely afternoon and it encouraged me to try more Thai dishes at home as we were also advised where to buy ingredients and substitutes if items are not available. I don’t think this class is suitable for somebody who has a lot of knowledge of Thai cooking as it was a basic introduction and may not challenge someone who cooks Thai food a lot. As a small group it was very informal and we felt able to ask lots of questions and the staff who ran the class were very friendly and encouraging. I’d really recommended this class if you like cooking or as a gift for someone who would like to learn more. I am definitely booking on to the next class as they change the recipes monthly and I thoroughly enjoyed is as did my friends who I went with. My one piece of feedback would be to offer people the option of buying the apron as a memento of the afternoon to go alongside the chef’s hat and recipe book

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The cooking class cost 280QR per person and includes: a welcome drink, cooking demonstration of  4 recipes, a glass of wine / soft drink with lunch, tea or coffee, a chef’s hat, a recipe booklet and a participation certificate.

Thanks to Mandy and Gill for their company and allowing me to use their photographs!

Sawa, Marsa Malaz Kempinski

Saturday was our first visit to the Marsa Malaz and I have to admit I was impressed. The hotel is stunning, so beautifully and elegantly designed, I would have been happy to spend a few hours just admiring it but we were hungry and had a lunch reservation at Sawa. I had emailed to reserve a table earlier that day and quickly received confirmation, when we arrived it was fairly quiet as it was a week day – the restaurant is pretty big with a fantastic open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work, again the decoration was lovely.

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As it was a perfect November day so we chose to sit on the terrace which looks out towards the beach and the Pearl, it also offered a fantastic close up view of Ahmed Al Bahranis bronze horse sculpture which is very impressive as it towers over the tables

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We opted for the business lunch priced at 95QR each which is similar to other promotions across the city mid week. The menu is quite small a choice of 3 starters, mains and desserts but I felt it offered a variety to suit most people.

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I ordered the Pea Soup with Goats Cheese and Popcorn Prawns, Greg went for the Smoked Salmon Rillette. After ordering we were presented with an amazing bread basket, the bread was still warm and served with salted butter and hummus, I think if we had just eaten this we would have been happy! Its always a good sign when your first reaction to seeing your dish is ‘wow’ but my soup had that effect. It was so pretty and smelt divine. The sweet velvety soup had swirls of salty goats cheese melted through it and the lightly battered prawns on the side were delicious, it was a 5* version of fish with mushy peas! Greg really enjoyed the smoky salmon as it wasn’t too overpowering and the thin crispy cracker bread was perfect.

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For mains I ordered Hammour with Lentils and Greg ordered the Angus Short Rib, the intention was to share but we enjoyed our dishes so much that didn’t really happen. The Hammour was light and moist and worked with the lentil which had a quite firm texture. Greg loved the short rib, it was so tender it just melted in your mouth and the croutons had absorbed the salty, meaty gravy. Another outstanding dish.

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I can usually take or leave dessert, I don’t really have a sweet tooth but the Snickers dish caught my attention as I love salted caramel. It was again very well presented with hand made chocolates but I found it far too sweet and Greg ended up eating mine as well as his Panna Cotta which is one of his favourite desserts. He did however feel that the amount of orange soup overpowered the white chocolate so the taste of it didn’t really come through.

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Our bill came to 350QR for two 3 course business lunches, a large water, a beer, coffee and a tip which is brilliant value. We absolutely loved our lunch here, everything came together – good service, pretty view and fantastic food. The a la carte menu looks really good and if the standard of business lunch is anything to go by I am sure it will be another ‘ wow’ experience.

Sawa - Marsa Malaz Kempinski Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

French Olive, Barwa Tower

We hadn’t intended to go to French Olive on Friday morning ( Nonna Zanons was closed) but I’m glad we ended up there, I was very impressed with the food and service. There is ample parking at Barwa Tower and French Olive has indoor seating or an outside terrace – admittedly the view is of C Ring road but it’s still nice to sit outside. It was fairly quiet when we arrived and the menus were brought to us quickly. Carol our server was polite, friendly and efficient throughout the meal.

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The menu is a mix of salads, tarts, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, meat and fish dishes – there really is something for everyone. Shortly after we ordered we were brought a variety of breads with olives, a tomato dip and olive oil with balsamic, the bread was very nice. For starters we decided to share calamari, firstly because this was only meant to be a light lunch but secondly I found the starters quite expensive. When the calamari came it was really nicely presented and was crispy, fresh and well seasoned not rubbery or chewy.

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For our main course I had chicken pasta in a creamy pink garlic sauce, it was delicious. Big chunks of tender chicken, a good portion of fresh pasta bound in a rich creamy mascarpone sauce – yummy. Gregs pizza was also freshly made – a perfect thin, crispy base with a good ratio of meat / veg to cheese.

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By now we were so full we boxed up half of the pizza and pasta and I went for a nosey inside. There was a vast array of beautifully decorated cakes on display, someone with a sweetooth would be in sugar heaven. I contemplated buying some chocolate truffles but felt it was better left for our next visit as we will definitely go back.

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Its sometimes rare in Doha to have good service and good food but French Olive seem to have mastered it! Our bill was 350QR for 2 fresh juices, large water, a starter, 2 mains and a tip which I thought was reasonable for a very filling lunch.

The French Olive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bombay Balti, Radisson Blu

Last weekend Greg went to Bombay Balti and suggested that we should go together. We have previously been to Ruby Wu’s and enjoyed it so we booked a table for Friday evening. As I have mentioned in my previous post Ruby Wu’s and Bombay Balti are on the lower  ground floor in quite a big space which is cleverly broken up into the two separate restaurants using furniture, flags and other decorations.

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We were were seated quickly and Malika our server brought menus. I am well aware that many Indian restaurants do cater for Western tastes and the menu here was no different consisting of samosas, kebabs, pakoras, meat and fish dishes, a vegetable section and rices. We ordered Chicken Tikka, Lamb Rogan Josh, Hammour Saagwallah, Saag Aloo and steamed rice. While we waited for our dishes to be brought we were given very moorish popadoms with a variety of sauces. Our mains arrived quite quickly and were well presented in copper tubs and lovely warm plates. The meat in all the dishes was very tender and plentiful, there was defintely a blend of different spices defining each dish rather than having everything taste the same which does sometimes happen with Indian dishes. My favourite was the Chicken Tikka along with the Saag Aloo as I found the mustard in the Hammour Saagwallah a little too strong for my taste.

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The meal was very filling and what we ordered was more than enough for two people, we ended up boxing leftovers to take home. The service throughout the meal was very good and at the end I was given an elephant which is now at home with the rest of my elephant collection – how did they know?!

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We will definitely return here –  it is suitable for couples, families and groups. Our meal cost about 450QR for 3 mains, 1 rice, 1 vegetable dish, 3 beers, a large water and tip.
Bombay Balti - Radisson Blu Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spikes Lounge, Doha Golf Club

I thought that you had to be a member of the golf club to use the bar and restaurant so hadn’t really thought about eating there. As the weather is getting so much cooler and it’s pleasant to sit outside I made some inquires and realised we could go there as non members so on Thursday afternoon we booked a table via email ( very quick response) and arrived about 1pm. Spikes has a large outside terrace overlooking the golf course, West Bay into the distance and Lusail – it’s really green and the trees, shrubs and flowers make for a lovely setting.

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We were were quickly brought menus which had a good choice of sandwiches, salads, burgers, meat and fish dishes as well as a few daily specials. Between 4 of us we ordered salmon en croute, burger, chicken fajitas and steak pie. I thought the pie was fabulous, it was packed full of tender braised beef and the pastry was light and crispy, it was huge though so half of it was boxed up for later. Greg liked the salmon but said it could have been hotter and our friends enjoyed the burger and fajitas.

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Greg and I shared a sticky toffee pudding for dessert and it was really nice, it would have been better if the fresh fruit it was served with was replaced by a little more toffee sauce. Banana split and the chocolate brownie were also good.

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The bill came to just over 600QR for 4 mains, 3 desserts, 2 beers and 6 soft drinks which I think is pretty reasonable and we will definitely return as the setting is so peaceful – it feels that the dust and hustle of the city is a million miles away! My one criticism is that the service, although friendly was quite slow. As we weren’t in a rush and were busy chatting away this wasn’t too much of an issue but others may find it a bit frustrating.

Spikes Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato