Turkey Central, Al Nasr

So, I have a foodie confession to make…..I have never been to Turkey Central. When we found out we were moving to Qatar one of the first things I did was Google the restaurants I could go to in the first week. Seriously. One of the restaurants that was mentioned repeatedly was Turkey Central, it was described as a ‘Doha institution’ a ‘must go to’ place. I pencilled it in. Fast forward two years and despite many good intentions we’ve never actually made it there until tonight. Hearing that parking nearby can be a nightmare we Ubered and after a frustratingly long journey we arrived about 5.30pm.

Large restaurant area upstairs

It was fairly quiet when we went up to the restaurant, maybe about 6 tables occupied and we were quickly given menus. The place is light and bright, there are lots of tables and I imagine it gets pretty noisy when it’s busy. The service from the first waiter who was a bit bizarre, we couldn’t be sure he understood what we were asking for as he was mumbling and not making any notes. We chose hummus, baba ganoush, mixed grill, meat shawarma and Turkish bread. For drinks a small water and fresh carrot juice. Our starters arrived after about 10 minutes but then a different waiter came to take our drinks order. We explained we’d already ordered, repeated our request and a couple of minutes later the water arrived but no juice.

Baba ganoush, Hummus and Turkish bread


The Turkish bread was hot, crisp and light. Dipping the bread into creamy hummus and sweet, smokey baba ganoush was an excellent start. We had to stop ourselves from eating all the bread so we wouldn’t be too full!


After about 15 minutes our main course arrived but oddly our table wasn’t cleared of the empty plates and dishes. At this point my carrot juice arrived, it was worth waiting for as it was very fresh and pure with no added flavours or sweetner.

Mixed grill
Meat shawarma


My mixed grill was nestled under a thin layer of bread which was smothered in a light tomato sauce and had soaked up lots of the meat juices. Hidden underneath the bread was lovely cubes of marinated chicken and lamb with slightly spiced koftas and a bed of red onion and fresh herbs. The meat was so tender and flavoursome. The meat shawarma was hot and packed with salad, shaved meat and light, tangy dressing. Both portions were of a generous size.

At the end of the meal we went to the counter and gave our table number. We were then given a receipt which we took downstairs to pay. The bill came to 71QR which was very reasonable for such a tasty meal. I can understand why Turkey Central is so popular, it was getting very busy as we left and the takeaway orders were lined up. We enjoyed our meal, the food was good but the service was a bit hit and miss. Overall though I think to travel there from West Bay is a bit of a trek especially in rush hour. If we were in the area we’d definitely visit again but for a very similar meal closer to home I still love Royal Istanbul!!
Turkey Central Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My favourite restaurant in Doha, Qatar Linkup

Nooooooooo  was my immediate thought when I read that this month’s Qatar Linkup was to write about my favourite restaurant in Doha. It’s a question I get asked so often and I always give a different answer as it changes daily if not hourly. My favourite restaurant depends on a variety of factors – what type of food am I in the mood for? Who else is going? Is it the day before or the day after I have been paid? Do I have to get dressed up or can I get away with a touch of makeup? How hungry am I? Can I walk there? What was my recent experience of the restaurant? Is it a school night or can I have vodka or two? The list goes on. Fickle I know.

img_0890
Can you guess where I have chosen yet?!

After much consideration I have concluded that my favourite restaurant (not the best restaurant, which includes a whole load more factors) is ……..Spice Market. The reasons I chose Spice Market are listed below

  • Convenience – we live really close so we can walk there in just over 5 minutes, no messing around with taxis. Even as it gets hotter is pretty do able. It also means we can go there spur of the moment i.e. when I can’t be bothered to cook.
  • Dress – I think you can dress up or dress down as much as you want here. I’ve worn a dress and heels, I’ve also gone here to eat before going to City Centre to do the weekly shop
  • Service – overall the service here is excellent. It does get busy during happy hour and you may have to wait a while for a drink (my advice is to order two). There is always plenty of staff about and the manager is happy to stop for a chat and seems genuinely interested in feedback.
  • Ambiance – a separate bar area, great use of decoration and furniture to give a feeling of space, subtle music. Everything comes together here. The toilets are also brilliant; Greg has been known to take visitors to Spice Market just to show them the loos.
  • Variety – whether you want happy hour drink with a free appetizer, a bento box, supper club, a taster menu, Friday brunch or a la carte there’s a huge choice. If you haven’t had the taster menu here you are missing out!
  • Food – finally….the most important thing. I have never had a poor dish at Spice Market regardless of when I have eaten or from which menu. The food is stunning. It is always well-flavoured, spiced, seasoned and presented. It also helps that Spice Market serves two of my favourite desserts – Ovaltine Kulfi and Red Velvet Cake. I also had tuna tartare for the first time a few nights ago and I have been having fabulous food flash backs ever since.
  • img_1173
    I love these popadoms
  • img_1085
    Dishes from the Taster Menu
  • The Bento Box

    My favourite dessert – Ovaltine Kulfi

To sum up, in my opinion if you want consistently good service and excellent food served in lovely surroundings then Spice Market is the place to go. That’s why it’s my favourite restaurant in Doha.

img_1174
If sometimes I can’t squeeze in a dessert I love to get a ‘cakeaway’ and a coffee to enjoy on the corniche

Hwang, Intercontinental Doha the City

There are places in Doha that some people rave about but I don’t like, there are places I love that other people don’t rate highly and then there are places I feel indifferent to. Hwang at the InterCon is one of them. Despite living next door and hearing some good reviews (and one or two bad ones) I never felt compelled to try it. However, their Yum Cha Friday brunch has polarized some people so when I was invited to try it myself I jumped at the chance – would I love it or loath it?! The challenge was set…..


It’s always a little worrying when you arrive at reception, give your name and there is a hesitation – especially when the table has been booked for you. However, we were located on the system and we were swiftly taken to our table. At first we were shown a lovely, large table in a sectioned off area but I asked if we could have a smaller table nearer the bar as I like to be nosy and people/food watch. Our server said this wasn’t a problem and a new table was found for us. The decor was a bit unexpected, it was more modern than I’d imagined it’d be with lovely bright accessories, interesting art work and an open bar area.


We were given menus and the concept was explained to us – basically you order as many dishes as you like and everyone shares. Unlike some other brunches food is served to your table. It was nice to be given a comprehensive drinks menu and some snacks whilst we perused the menu.


We started with a selection of appetizers which arrived quickly. Highlights were the light and flavorsome siew mai (I think I ate a full serving to myself!)  the wasabi prawns which packed a bit of a punch and spring rolls. We found the fish cakes a little cold and rubbery.


We then ordered a variety of main dishes which arrived at different intervals. I loved the spicy beef salad, broccoli and the duck. Other favourites were beef satay which was wondefully tender, crab rangoon, nasi goreng and the asparagus with sambal belacan. The wok fried duck was so good we ended up ordering another. The chef also sent out another duck dish for us to try that wasn’t on the menu and it was delicious. We were a little disappointed with both the jungle curry and the red thai curry as it was felt they were watery and lacked ingredients to create a good texture. We fed this back but we were told this is an authentic version and it would not be changed.

Our orders for last drinks and desserts were then taken. As we were all feeling pretty full we were advised to order a couple of desserts between us all. I loved the gooey chocolate cake, I could have eaten a couple! In fact, I ate the other portion as no one else liked it. I didn’t like the coconut sticky rice with mango as I felt it was bland and it didn’t taste of much but it was demolished by the others. So it’s fair to say the desserts divided opinion.


Throughout our meal the service was superb, Sandesh ensured we were well fed and watered (especially with Mr Ally’s ‘special cocktail’ concoction!). As we were sat near the bar we weren’t in the main hub of the restaurant but there was a great atmosphere and buzz. So, did I love it or loath it? To be fair neither, but I’m leaning towards love more than loath. There were some fantastic, stand out dishes that I would go back for. The service and ambiance were excellent and I think it’s well priced. However, there were a couple of dishes that just didn’t hit the mark. I think that it’s the type of brunch where you go once, find out what you like then go back again and thoroughly enjoy it. This is what we (and the friends we were with) intend to do. It’s also a great brunch to do with a group as its relaxed, informal and fun.


At the end of brunch we were given a drinks voucher for Strata upstairs on the 56th floor. As a sign of how full we were we chose to go downstairs to Al Jalsa Garden which is one of my favourite places in the city instead! Overall it was a lovely Friday.

*On this occasion I was a guest of the Intercontinental Doha the City. My opinions and photographs are, as always, my own. Our friends paid for themselves however they did use a 241 Advantage Club voucher *

Hwang - InterContinental The City Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Quick Bites, Marriott Marquis 

In an attempt to get a little fitter I’ve joined the gym at the Marriott Marquis. I decided after my first visit to reward my commitment with a take out from Quick Bites located on the ground floor. I now realise I have set a dangerous precedent because the food is really good! I’d describe it more of a cafe than a restaurant – it has a lovely light, bright, spacious feel to it with a fantastic long counter displaying sweet and savory items.


The varied menu offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to eat in or takeaway. The first time I called in I ordered a BBQ chicken pizza, shrimp coleslaw salad, a sugared donut and a cronut to take out. The pizza was freshly made while I waited and everything was ready in about 10 minutes. The service was really good, very friendly and helpful. The food itself was also good however I did feel the desserts were a little dry.


As we enjoyed this food so much we chose to go there on Friday but this time we ate in rather than taking our food away. Greg was delighted to see a Cornish pasty on the menu but he couldn’t decide between that and a pizza so he ordered both! I liked the look of the fresh salads of which there are some wonderful combinations of ingredients. I chose an apple, watermelon and rocket salad with balsamic dressing and Parmesan. Once again our food arrived quickly and it was hot and fresh. I did think there was a little too much balsamic on my salad but luckily this didn’t overpower the delicious flavours. The Cornish pasty was excellent – flaky, buttery pastry with a well seasoned filling. The pizza was light and crispy.


I really recommend you try Quick Bites, the cafe is thoughtfully designed so if you’re there for business or leisure it’s a relaxing place to enjoy some delicious, freshly cooked food. We’ll definitely be back purely to try a freak shake!!

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

Burgeri, Aspire Park

My favourite burger in Doha is the Bistro Burger at Champions and Greg loves Shake Shack burgers. I’d been told that the best burger was at Burgeri at Aspire so we went to investigate. We arrived just after opening on Friday afternoon and I was surprised at the industrial, stripped back feel of the restaurant. Booths, metal tables and chairs, long wooden benches and the staff served from inside what can be best described as a steel type cage. A large wall was playing film clips and the music was from a ‘now this is music’ tape circa 1984. I loved it! As it was so warm we sat inside but there is a roof top terrace where you can get great views of the Torch and Aspire.


As its self service we grabbed a booth and a menu ourselves. I chose a single burger with aged cheddar and Greg chose a ‘special’ burger with pickles, aged cheddar, salad and Burgeri sauce. We also ordered a portion of sweet potato fries and cheesy fries to share and two soft drinks. When you order you are given a buzzer which goes off once your food is ready. Our food took about 5 minutes and by then the queue to order was getting pretty big so I’m glad we arrived when we did.


We both thought the burgers were good. They were nice and fresh, the meat was juicy and there was the right amount of cheese and fillings. We didn’t find them as greasy as Shake Shack ones. The sweet potato fries were so good, but I found the cheesy fries not as nice as the cheese sauce was a bit too plasticky!


Our meal cost 106QR which wasn’t too expensive. We’d go back especially as it’s so nice to walk around the park afterwards and burn off the Bulgeri burger calories. I wouldn’t consider it to be best burger in Doha but it’s definitely a contender!

Burgeri Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Prime, Intercontinental Doha The City

‘I challenge you to find a fault with this meal’ said Greg at the end of our evening at Prime and for once I didn’t have anything to say. It was faultless. It wasn’t our first visit to Prime, we have been a few times before and even though it was always enjoyable I wasn’t always 100% convinced that it was as amazing as some people claimed. On one visit I found the sides a little luke-warm and on another occasion we were the only people in there and there was a lack of atmosphere. However, after our visit on Thursday I can say I understand why people love it here so much. I emailed to reserve a table and specifically asked for a table next to the open kitchen as I love to watch the chef at work preparing the food. I was not disappointed, I think we got the best table in the restaurant.


We were greeted with a lovely glass of bubbly and the menus were presented to us. Then I was faced with a dilemma – foie gras or no foie gras. I opted for the former. Greg chose the short ribs as he has had them before and they are amazing. For our main course we chose a 300g fillet steak with creamed spinach, potato gratin and onion rings. After placing our order a lovely bread basket came and shortly afterwards an amuse bouche which was a lobster and quinoa salad. There were several pieces of chunky lobster nestled on micro leaves with a lovely, but not overpowering, citrus bisque dressing. What a wonderful start.


My foie gras, which I had asked to be fried, then arrived. It was a generous serving and was so soft and buttery with rich brioche and the tang of berries and a scattering of sea salt on top gave added texture. Greg was not disappointed with the short ribs, they were crispy on the outside and melted in your mouth. Every tiny crumb was devoured.


We were then brought a refreshing lemon sorbet palate cleanser.


There were lots of ‘wows’ when our steak arrived. Not only did it look amazing but it was so perfectly cooked and seasoned I almost cried with happiness. We had selected french steak knives and they just glided through with very little effort. The side dishes were also delicious and the egg yolk was a unusual accompaniment but was really nice too. By now we were getting full but it was so hard to leave such delicious food!

We were asked if we would like dessert but we were so full we chose not to. Refusing to take no for an answer we were kindly given a complimentary ‘melting chocolate sphere’ which was a lovely touch. Hot chocolate sauce was poured over the sphere and, as it melted, it revealed cream and berries. Luckily it wasn’t too rich or bitter and we managed to eat most of it!


The service throughout the evening was excellent, very friendly and good-humoured but professional. There was also a lovely ambiance as many of the tables were occupied and this created a buzz, I do like how the tables as spaced out. We paid about 700QR for our meal as we used an Entertainer voucher meaning one of our steaks was free (offer ends July 2016). I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Prime or recommend it to people, it really was first class. At the end of our meal we asked to see a Tomahawk steak – I think this may be what we ordered when we go back as it looks incredible.

Prime - InterContinental The City Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Indian Theme Night, Intercontinental Doha The City 

If your idea of a great Indian meal is composed of kormas, bhunas, samosas, naan breads, poppadoms and mango chutney then you’ll be very disappointed with the Indian food at The Square on a Monday night. If however you love authentic Indian cooking with chefs who use the influence of their home town, and use family recipes then you’re in for an absolute treat.

 

Lamb biriyani

When I was invited to try Indian night I expected the regular offering of tikka masala, murgh makhani, chunky naan with pickles and chutney. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s the type of food I would have expected as that’s what my experience of Indian food has usually been. However, as the evening progressed I was pleasantly surprised at how much free rein the chefs have been given to create dishes that they know, understand and are passionate about.

 

 

Brains, kidney and liver

Unlike a normal review I’m not going to give a detailed account of everything we ate. Firstly because you’d see just how much we ate and we’d be exposed as the gluttons that we are, but secondly because I’d struggle to name and describe everything and do all of the dishes justice. I think in this instance I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves.

 

 

Pani puri with fillings

 

Meat from the tandoor oven
Tandoori chicken
Just part of the vegetarian section
Indian drinks station
Pickles, chutneys and relishes

The theme nights at The Square have been revamped of late, further details of each evening theme can be found at the bottom of this post. It is apparent from talking to the staff there is a clear focus on trusting the chefs to deliver dishes that they themselves love. This was evident when they spoke to us about the processes involved in sourcing the ingredients (not always as easy as you’d think in Qatar!) and the creation of the dishes.

 


If you want to experience authentic Indian cooking I recommend that you pay The Square a visit on a Monday evening. We’ve recently returned from India and it brought back great memories of our holiday seeing dishes we’d eaten in Alleppey and the street food we’d bought from stalls in Fort Kochi

 

Street food
Indian snacks
Fresh fruit, saffron infused bread pudding, barfi, motichoor ladoo and jalebi
Jalebi with masala tea

My one piece of feedback I would give is that it would be a good idea to have a ‘visual guide’ – – such as a cartoon, sketches or photographs – as to what spices and ingredients work well for the street food. We were lucky to have the lovely Satyendra to show us how to make our pani puri but I think for those less familiar with Indian street food it may give them some tips. This would also be a discussion point, creating a fun, informal atmosphere!

Theme evenings listed below are priced at 180QR for food only and 290QR which includes selected house beverages.

Monday – Indian

Tuesday – Italian

Wednesday  – Seafood ( starting at 255QR)

Thursday – Cosmoplitan

Friday, Saturday, Sunday – International

  • On this occasion I was a guest of the Intercontinental the City. As always my review is completely honest and the photographs are my own.

The Square - InterContinental The City Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato