When I arrived in Doha the one thing that everyone talked about was Friday brunch, a staple of expat life. At my first brunches I stood in awe of the huge amount of food, beautiful presentation (I have been known to get teary at pretty desserts and angry when people cut into them!) and the free flow of drinks – all this for about 300QR seemed like a good deal. However, as prices in some places have shot up to over 400QR, my opinion on these huge brunches has changed slightly. On reflection the myriad of dishes were mostly things I didn’t eat, the inconvenience of walking half a mile in heels to get a prawn and the after effects of weekend long hangover, I kind of stopped loving huge Friday brunches. I wanted something smaller in size and price, more personal service and to leave knowing I wasn’t going to spend Saturday on the sofa with a box set and McDonald’s take away. Don’t get my wrong, Friday brunches are lots of fun, some of my best Doha memories involve brunch antics, I just don’t want to do them every weekend. I started to investigate Friday lunches which were, dare I say, more civilized? This search led me and some friends to Misk, the Lebanese restaurant at City Center Rotana where their Friday Sofra (Sofra meaning lavish feast) takes place and the food is served to your table in courses, the menu below is a sample.
On arrival we were surprised we were the only patrons, Olive Oil across the corridor was much busier but we were warmly greeted into the beautiful styled restaurant.
Menus were brought and the concept explained – a selection of hot and cold mezze would be brought for the table to share then we all would chose a main course each. The cold mezze were delicious, we loved the traditional middle eastern shanklish salad, vine leaves and moutabel but the fattoush salad divided opinion as some of us felt it was too acidic and sharp, others thought it was spot on.
Soon the hot mezze arrived and we tucked into wonderful feast of pastry deep fried with rakakat, spicy potatoes, baby fried fish with tahini, prawns and liver. Again, one of the dishes – the liver – divided opinion as I found it a little too sweet with the lemon and pomegranate but others loved it. At this point we had to have some self restraint as we still had our main courses to come. Look at how cute all the little serving dishes are!
The staff were excellent and told us to just let them know when we wanted our next course so we had a little break! As the main courses are individually ordered they took a little while to arrive and they were brought to the table very hot and fresh. The lamb chops were tender and cooked perfectly, they’d been well prepared with the bones trimmed and cleaned. The koftas were well seasoned and juicy, a perfect match with the garlic sauce.
By now we were all so full, craving a coffee and something sweet to end the meal. Soon dessert arrived – a selection of Arabic desserts. I’m not a huge dessert fan and as I don’t like nuts, honey or sugar syrup I do struggle to find any Arabic desserts I enjoy, but I did like the authenticity of the platter. I think it may be nice to have an option of fresh fruit as a lighter way to end the meal. The staff brought the youngest member of our group ice cream which she loved and was a nice touch!
By the time we looked at our watches 3 hours had flown by and we’d all had a thoroughly lovely time. We enjoyed the food, the service and, despite the fact we the only diners, it didn’t effect the atmosphere in fact it felt like private dining!
In terms of value for money I felt it was fantastic. The soft drinks package is 145QR and with beer/wine/araq 245QR – coffee/tea is priced separately. The total cost for 5 people for the Sofra lunch plus coffee was 1005QR. So, if huge buffet style brunches aren’t for you, then check this smaller, cosier, Sofra instead. It’s particularly family friendly (there is no children’s entertainment however) and great for groups who love sharing good food in a pretty setting.