My Doha, Bloggers Link Up

My Dream, My Doha

Doha for me is where my dream to live overseas turned into a reality. I have always believed I was born to live in warm country and from a young age been drawn to the Middle East. I started to visit Dubai and Qatar about 12 years ago when my friend worked for the Ritz and I loved it. For many reasons my plans to teach abroad never came to fruition but all that changed in February 2014 on a dark, wet, miserable, gloomy Tuesday. After a tough day at work I said to my equally fed up husband ‘let’s apply for jobs overseas’. He looked at me like I was crazy (Greg will admit he isn’t very adventurous) and I thought no more of it until a few days later when he told me he’d written a CV and filled in application forms for Qatar, Dubai and Spain. I was gob smacked but over the moon. Fast forward 3 months and we had both resigned from our jobs in the UK and secured jobs in Doha, two months after that we had sold our house and we were on a plane. It was like a whirlwind but I was so excited and even though Greg was pretty terrified we knew it was the best thing for us both.

 

Leaving our Sheffield home

 

Packing the essentials!

 

Barely room for poor Dyson

 

My main memory is of landing and being driven along the Corniche and pointing out things to Greg I remembered from previous visits, being in awe at how much development had taken place. I also remember  waking up the next morning and looking out of our apartment window to the view of West Bay, the view we had looked at so many times online was now on our door step. Goose bump time!

The view from our gym

 

The view from our lounge

Life here is good;  very good. I think Doha is a bit of a marmite place but we feel very settled. We are both happy in our jobs, we have a fantastic home, we get to travel regularly and on  weekends we get to go to the desert, the mangroves, eat at 5* hotels, grab a 6QR shawarma, go to the Souk,  watch world class tennis, laze by the pool……the list goes on.

 

The Inland Sea

 

Quad biking at Sealine

 

MIA Park

 

Al Thakira

 

My Blog, My Doha

Doha is also where I developed my confidence enough to start a blog. I have always loved food ( I am by nature very greedy) and in the UK we ate out quite a bit but nothing on the scale as we do here. I often found myself recommending places to eat and following other bloggers such as Pinay Flying High, Life on the Wedge, Quest and Mark, Follow your Sunshine, Lemon and Mint and Boulangerry among others, but never felt I knew enough to write my own.

My site

However, with technical support and encouragement from Greg, in May 2015 I got my site up and running, ventured into the (sometimes scary) world of social media and started to write about places we ate. I am keen to highlight that I am not a food critic, I cannot suggest that a dish would be improved by the addition of some rare spice or an extra dash of truffle oil, I am not always able pick out flavours – but I do love reading the reviews of people who can. For me it’s about the whole experience. Was it easy to get a reservation? How comfy were the chairs? What was the ambiance like? Was the food well presented / cooked/ flavoured? Was the service good? How much did it cost? And, more importantly,  would I go back / recommend it to others? My reviews all follow this theme. I also write my blog so I remember where I have eaten, a record of our foodie exploits! I was a bit embarrassed the first time I clicked the ‘publish’ button. Was my English terrible? …….had I repeated myself? …..would a friend ( or even worse an English teacher colleague) read it and think it was rubbish?……to be honest those doubts are still there at times but many people tell me they like my reviews as I write like I speak and it’s just me!

Melia Brunch

 

Choices at the Oryx Rotana

We have lived in Doha for 18 months now and have no plans to move on just yet. If and when we do move to pastures new Doha will always be special to me as the place where I realised my dreams and lived a fantastic life with Greg. My main issue is if I do move on what will happen to Doha Dinners, something I didn’t consider when I chose the name!

Thanks for reading!

Tex Mex Theme Night, Oryx Rotana 

‘ You know I’m not a salad person but I’m going for a second plate because it’s so good’ – praise indeed from my husband who only eats salad if it’s in a burger or shawarma. He was right, an array of beautifully presented salads greeted us on Sunday when we visited Choices restaurant at the Oryx Rotana for their Tex Mex night.


I have eaten at The Cellar and Jazz Club at the Oryx before and can highly recommend both but haven’t been to Choices. I was a bit taken back and pleasantly surprised by how light, airy and modern the restaurant was, a really lovely space. We were quickly seated and showed the various areas – salads, nachos station, live grill, cheese fountain (!), breads, hot dishes and desserts. There was so much choice but it wasn’t overwhelming as it had all been set out so well.

We started with lots of fabulous salads – beetroot, avocado with sour cream, mussels with salsa, coleslaw, prawn ceviche, cold cuts of meat and plump poached lobster.

We then moved on to mains of chargrilled beef, which had a good kick of chilli, and was served pink, chili con carne, fajitas, nachos, tacos, calamari – the list goes on. Everything we ate tasted fresh and was packed full of flavour.


 There was a fairly small dessert section with fresh fruits, sauces, creme brûlée, rice pudding and cakes. To be fair we’d left little room for dessert but we did enjoy the raspberry mousse cake and the rice pudding. Service throughout was attentive but not intrusive. It is clear that the new team in the kitchen and front of house have a desire to produce good quality food and give customers a great dining experience.

Throughout the week Choices offers various theme evenings as well as a Friday Brunch with live music. The Tex Mex evening is priced at 215QR food only  (I think 1 soft drink or small water should be included in that perhaps as there is no soft drink option) 305QR including house beverages and 350QR including sparkling wine and spirits.


* On this occasion I was a guest of the Oryx Rotana. As always my review is completely honest and the photographs are my own *

Choices - Oryx Rotana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Street Food, Doha Marriott 

During a Twitter conversation about places to eat on a Thursday evening ‘Street Food’ at the Marriott was recommended as a place to go. I needed very little persuading to go and check it out but when I heard that an Entertainer voucher could also be used within 10 minutes I’d had a phone call back to confirm our reservation!

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When we arrived just before 7pm it was fairly quiet, we were greeted and shown to our table within Salsa restaurant. The table we were given was really close to the band (great if your with a group for a party) but we felt it would be too loud so we asked if we could move and without hesitation were offered a table in Taj Rasoi the Indian restaurant where it was a little quieter. On Thursday evening you can sit in any of the hotel restaurants located along a corridor then just wander in and out of all the restaurants to the different live cooking stations.



  
We were given a glass of delicious mango lassi then told we could go to any of the cooking stations to get food and any of the fridges to get drinks. We were taken back by just how big the ‘market’ was –  stalls from various nationalities with their wares beautifully displayed, music playing, food sizzling, cardboard signage, flags, people wandering and interacting with the ‘vendors’ it was lots of fun. It’s a good concept well executed, lots of effort gone into giving the impression of no effort. When we thought we’d come to the end of all the cooking stations we found a room which was designed like a fish market where you could select fresh fish (hammour, mussels, shrimp, crab, snapper, lobster) then hand it over to be cooked and then collected 30 minutes later. The staff here were really friendly and helpful.

  

I started with British – beef stew in a tin, a mini shepherds pie in a foil tray and a wedge of pie. All delicious comfort food. Due to the Street Food theme everything is sold in paper or foil trays, plastic or paper cups, polystyrene cups or paper cones and you simply grab a tray and make your selections. Everything is cooked fresh to order so you can choose your own ingredients and personalise it to your taste. Greg loved the Japanese pancakes, samosas, tacos and spring rolls. I enjoyed sweet potato wedges, beef brisket, ceviche and satay skewers. The fish we had ordered was fantastic too especially the lobster.

  


We were absolutely sold on the Street Food concept, it’s different to what other places are doing and it was fun wandering , watching, eating and being bombarded with sounds and smells from faraway places. By 9pm it was getting quite busy and there were lots of families eating together, I think this would be a perfect place to hold a party or bring a large group too. We will definitely return and recommend it as a great way to spend a Thursday evening. 
  
  
Throughout the meal service was good. There were staff all around so if you needed something you could just call them over, tables were cleared quickly. My one piece of feedback though would be to put more napkins on each table as it got quite messy! We opted for the soft drinks package priced at 240QR each but as we used our Entertainer voucher we only paid for one meal, an absolute bargain!

Asia Live - Doha Marriott Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Market by Jean-Georges, W Hotel

We seemed to have had a W Hotel themed weekend after spending Thursday Happy Hour and Friday Brunch in Spice Market and then going to Market by Jean Georges for lunch on Saturday. The express lunch at Market is great value at 98 QR for 3 courses and there is a good choice of dishes for each course to suit the majority of people. I like the design of Market, its bright and modern with clever use of dividers to break up space. It was a bit odd however that they filled all the tables in one section and it felt a little cramped, it would have been nice to be more spaced out as the restaurant wasn’t full.We quickly placed our orders and were given a lovely basket of warm, fresh bread. I think a good bread basket is the sign of a good meal to come and we soon finished it. Luckily our starters arrived before we could devour any more.

My tomato and mozzarella salad with basil and balsamic was a good size, the mozzarella was thick and creamy and it was well seasoned. I did find a couple of the tomatoes slightly under ripe, they were a bit hard. Greg ordered the calamari with lemon harissa dip and it was delicious. The calamari was crispy, not too oily and the dip had a lovely kick to it.

As this is an express lunch service was swift, our plates were quickly tidied away in preparation for our mains arriving. Whilst we were waiting the server came and explained the new ‘ Supper Club’ menu being offered every day ( except Friday) 3 courses for 100QR 5pm – 7pm and the ‘ Gin o Clock’ offering unlimited Gin Sunday – Thursday 5pm – 7pm for 120QR. These promotions sounds great and I am sure we will be back to try it out! Soon our mains courses arrived. My salmon with mash was light, fresh and cooked perfectly and the mash was creamy and not too heavy, the shredded sprouts gave texture. Greg’s cheeseburger was huge…… really huge. It was the kind of burger you need to cut in half before you tuck in! He had asked for it medium rare but the middle was a little too rare for him so he left a little bit but other than that it was delicious.

We were feeling rather full by this point and probably wouldn’t have ordered dessert if it wasn’t included in the lunch offer. My salted caramel ice cream sundae with popcorn was lovely though I would have liked the ice cream to be a little saltier – it was a huge serving but I battled through and finished it. Greg ordered the banana cake with ice cream and as he was so full already he found it a little heavy and did not finish it all (the latte he ordered probably didn’t help!)

Overall we really enjoyed our lunch, as I said its excellent value for money when you consider the quality and portion size. It is particularly good if you are in a hurry as service is prompt but not rushed. The bill came to 280QR for 2 express lunches, a bottle of water, a latte and a tip. Highly recommended – just make sure you’re hungry and have no plans to eat later in the day!

Spice Market, W Hotel

In my opinion you can’t go wrong when you eat at any restaurant in W. The food is consistently excellent, the service is spot on and there’s always a good atmosphere. When I read that Friday Brunch at Spice Market was 241 with the Entertainer it was a bit of a no brainer so we planned a joint ‘ selling our house / valentines / 3rd wedding anniversary’ celebration.

We arrived just after 12pm and as usual received a professional welcome and were swiftly seated. I’d specifically asked for a table by the window as it’s more light and airy plus the live band and food stations are located in the lower section and it can get quite loud and busy. We actually opted for a non alcoholic package ( we’d had a few cocktails in Spice Market the night before!) and just wanted to enjoy the food. As expected the majority of the food is of Asian origin. We started with some of the best sushi and sashimi, delicious plump king prawns, tempura fish and vegetables. The California rolls were a winner.

We then moved onto beef stir fry, duck, curry and fried rice. It was all excellent quality, well presented, hot, very fresh and tasty.

After a bit of a rest we moved away from the Asian dishes to have beef rib and leg of lamb. These were a bit of a disappointment as I like my meat rare but it was well done and dry, there were no ‘traditional’ accompaniments such as mash or veg so we didn’t revisit this section.

As we were starting to get full we moved onto salads – beetroot which was delicious (and very similar to the beetroot in the bento box) and bang bang chicken which had a bit of a kick! Unfortunately we didn’t get to sample the live cooking station as we were so full but it was very popular.

We had a tiny bit of room for dessert and we both really loved the lemon tart, mousse cake and cup cakes. Some of the desserts weren’t labelled however which resulted in me picking up a creme brulee not realising it was lemongrass flavour – not a mistake I’d want to repeat as I didn’t like it at all. Luckily I had a slice of lemon meringue pie to take away the taste!

The non alcoholic brunch is priced at 295QR pp which, when you consider the quality of the food, is excellent value. It was a lovely afternoon and the live band added to a buzzing atmosphere. Service was excellent throughout, there were lots of staff about so drinks were topped up and plates removed quickly and we were asked on a couple of occasions if we needed anything.

The entertainer voucher can be used on a Friday Brunch until the end of February and can be found in the ‘monthly offers’ section of the app. However, if you love Asian cuisine this is definatly the brunch for you regardless of the offer, you won’t be disappointed.

Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, it was busy, dark and I wanted to eat!

5 Al Fresco dining ideas 

Sawa, Marsa Malaz

Such a beautiful hotel and this restaurant on the lower ground floor had an outside terrace overlooking the Pearl and the beach. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also offers an express lunch on weekdays and brunch on a weekend. The menu is a mix of various cuisines to satisfy most people and the food is superb. 

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Opal, St Regis

Opal has a shaded terrace that overlooks the hotel grounds and the Pearl. It’s the perfect place to take advantage of the cooler weather over some refreshing drinks and good food. They open daily for lunch and dinner and on a Thursday evening they offer a promotion on wine, beer and cocktails and you can select 3 small snacks for 80QR. With the DJ playing chill out tracks it’s the ideal way to start your weekend.

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Elements, Four Seasons

This newish restaurant is one of my favourites. The food is excellent, the service is good and the terrace is lovely. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and also offering a business lunch on week days and weekend brunch. The Saturday buffet for 170QR including water is good value for money. 

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French Olive, Barwa Tower

Located on C Ring Road a fantastic Mediterranean menu inspired by French and Italian dishes. They have lots of tables inside too where you can drool over the patisserie items or you can sit outside on the patio area. The food is reasonably priced and is family friendly. It’s open from 7am – 11pm.

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Spikes Lounge, Doha Golf Course

Open to the public with a large terrace overlooking the course and West Bay, an oasis of green. The menu is made up of ‘pub grub’ such as pie, fish and chips, burgers and pastas. The portion sizes are big so make sure you’re hungry when you go. Spikes also offers an early evening happy hour on drink and a buffet on a Friday. 

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Boston’s Bar, City Centre Rotana

On Saturday I was invited to a preview evening at Boston’s Bar at the new City Centre Rotana Hotel. Its quite hard to describe the design of the bar, its a quirky fusion of sports bar / diner with music, decorated brick walls, art installations, booths and a large bar with stools in keeping with the ‘Cheers’theme and more contemporary tables and chairs. As the bar filled up the atmosphere was buzzing and I can imagine it will be a fun place to go to for an informal meal with drinks.


  

The food was really very good and offered a taste of from their main menu. Spicy buffalo wings with thick blue cheese dip, mini caesar salads, delicious creamy mash with short rib, tasty sliders, and zingy fish tacos.

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We were offered a selection of drinks, the white wine was good and the Moscow Mules served in a copper tankard were lovely.

Throughout the evening the service was exceptional, very attentive and friendly. I also liked the fact that the smoking room is screened off so it didn’t become overly smokey. Overall Boston’s Bar is good new addition to the city.

Hours and promotions:

Open daily from 5pm to 1.30am  – 40% discount on drinks 5pm – 6pm / 11pm – 12.30am.

Tuesday – Cabin Crew and Teachers Night

Wednesday – Ladies Night

Sunday – Hoteliers and Cabin Crew

https://www.rotanatimes.com/citycentrerotanadoha/offers/16389

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