Top 6 fine dining restaurants in Doha: #6 La Mer

When it comes to fine dining, us Doha dwellers are spoilt for choice. Five star hotels are springing up in abundance, bringing with them some of the world’s best-known restaurant brands serving world class cuisine. While the Michelin Guide is yet to open its doors to Qatar, several restaurants run by Michelin-starred chefs have located here, including Gordon Ramsay (Gordon Ramsay and Opal at the St Regis), Alain Ducasse (IDAM at the Museum of Islamic Art) and Vineet Bhatia (Saffron Lounge at Katara).

With Ramadan, and the associated annual restaurant shut-down rapidly approaching, I’m on a mission to uncover the best fine dining restaurants that Doha has to offer – and over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be sharing my discoveries with you along the way.

We start with an absolute stunner of a restaurant at number six: the very lovely La Mer on the 23rd floor of the Ritz Carlton, Doha.

It didn’t surprise me to hear that La Mer recently won Doha’s best afternoon tea for the second year running in the Time Out Doha Restaurant Awards 2015, because if you are looking for a relaxing few hours of cake and tea, then this place has the whole package.

The spacious restaurant is characterised by elegant and traditionally French decor with mahogany in abundance. However, despite the ornate surroundings, once you are seated at your table, the only place you will be casting your eyes is out of the floor to ceiling windows in front of you. The views over The Pearl and across the Persian Gulf to the city beyond are breathtaking.

La Mer by name, La Mer by nature.

Rich and I have returned to this restaurant time and time again, and all of the staff now know us by name. I have never had such a friendly and warm welcome from a restaurant I have eaten at anywhere else in the world, and to us, this is one of La Mer’s major selling points.

Oh yeah, and you won’t be disappointed by the food either.

An extensive tea menu accompanies the afternoon tea selection, with the traditional English Breakfast ‘St James’ sitting alongside some more interesting blends such as a Saffron Chai and ‘Oriental Princess’ which is a heady blend of blue tea, liquorice and vanilla.

The gorgeous silver afternoon tea stands are rather petit, but the whole ensemble is quite filling enough for one. You might be asking for a top-up of the beautifully buttery mini scones however, as they are more-ish to the extreme.

We opted for the Royal Afternoon Tea, which for 50QAR more than the Vintage, includes a glass of sparkling rosΓ©.

I was really taken with how a French restaurant in Qatar has managed to produce a very British afternoon tea which is up there with London staples Claridges and Brown’s in terms of quality and attention to detail…but then, isn’t this what The Ritz is globally renowned for?!

My only sticking point? I am a huge clotted cream fiend and like to smother it aaaall over my scones, so we could have done with a little more than this teeny scoop of cream alongside our miniature pot of Tiptree jam and equally tiny spoonful of lemon curd. However, once we’d scraped our dishes, more was promptly fetched, and we continued to gorge…

After we’d had our fill of scones and cake, there was nothing for it but to have a brisk but contented stroll through the hotel grounds to walk it all off.

 

Now, believe it or not, afternoon tea isn’t the best thing that La Mer offers. It’s actually got a whole lot more going for it which is far more enticing to the Doha foodie. And it’s all because of this man:

Chef William Khala came over to La Mer from Canada about a year ago, and has since made it his mission to revolutionise the evening menu, to great accolade. He specialises in using well-known ingredients in surprising ways, and it is obvious that he rather enjoys a little shock and awe amongst his diners when the real make-up of the dish in front of them is revealed.

I was recently invited, alongside some other Doha-based bloggers to sample a blind tasting menu at La Mer (a.k.a. a Chef Khala special treat). 

We started with a traditional Qatari welcome – a date…with a not-so-traditional foie gras filling.

Gerald (Boulangerry) was quite taken with it.

So far, so Khala.

Next up was Foie Gras Torchon, accompanied by cocoa, apricot and pistachio granola, which I failed to get a photo of because I accidentally licked my plate clean before I got a chance. 

And then came the Scallops.

Surrounded by a ring of raw cauliflower couscous, Dukkah, roasted almonds and hibiscus, the combination of textures and flavours was divine.

The next course was Black Halibut.

I loved the mixture of ingredients that came with this perfectly cooked fish. The celeriac puree, morel mushrooms, celery leaves and truffle air gave the dish an earthy and wholesome flavour.

The star of the show however, was the Duck Breast.

Sitting on a bed of seeds, with a smear of sweet potato puree and a crispy outer skin, this piece of duck was one of the tastiest and most succulent pieces of meat I have ever eaten.

I was very excited when for dessert, Chef Khala brought out his famous Chocolate Around The World.

Hot, molten chocolate is poured over a chocolate lid holding a scoop of chocolate mousse, until it all falls in on itself, into the glass bowl below which is housing yet more chocolate in various different forms. Heaven in a fish bowl.

We finished the evening in the same way that I finish every evening at La Mer – with huge smiles on our faces, still chattering away about the uniqueness of the meal we’d just had.

I was a guest of Ahlan! Magazine for this event.

Last but most certainly not least, La Mer offers a series of very exciting food and wine pairing evenings which everyone from the casual foodie right up to the most discerning diner will enjoy. You can read all about what these nights entail here and here.

 

These are just a handful of the reasons why I think La Mer is an unmissable fine dining hotspot in Doha. Head over there to experience it for yourself and sample some extraordinary Khala-cuisine (and be sure to have a good old natter with the lovely staff while you’re at it).

Have you been to La Mer since Chef Khala took over? What did you think of the food?

 

The details:

23rd Floor, The Ritz Carlton Hotel

West Bay Lagoon,

Doha,

Qatar

 

+974 4484 8000

22 Comments

  1. May 24, 2015 / 8:49 am

    La Mer looks exquisite, how nice that they do such a great British afternoon tea! Polly, you need to do a blog post on your exercice tips, you're in such good shape

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • May 24, 2015 / 3:10 pm

      It's such a nice thing, to have great afternoon tea on your doorstep when you're this far away from home! Haha, Suze that is so sweet of you but my friends would laugh so much at this comment – I do swim a bit and do the occasional work-out video but apart from that I am actually pretty lazy.

      Polly xx

  2. May 24, 2015 / 9:47 am

    ooh I'm pinning this one – that afternoon tea looks amazing.

    • May 24, 2015 / 3:11 pm

      Thanks lady – this place is pretty pinnable!!

      Polly xx

  3. May 24, 2015 / 11:10 am

    The restaurant looks great and l love how you've covered all aspects of it really thoroughly. Great idea for a series and I looking forward to reading more! Plus I agree with Suze, I'd love some exercise tips! You look lovely.
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    SilverSpoon London

    • May 24, 2015 / 3:12 pm

      Thank you Angie πŸ™‚ I'm looking forward to writing them! Haha – see above re: the exercise comment! But thank you, that's so sweet of you.

      Polly xx

    • May 25, 2015 / 4:09 pm

      Thanks so much Jamie! It is a really special place.

      Polly xx

  4. May 26, 2015 / 7:15 am

    What a wonderful afternoon tea, quite often the very British pastime doesn't translate across the pond but this looks wonderful. Like you I love my clotted cream. What a view too Lucy x

    • May 26, 2015 / 8:15 am

      It's definitely translated over here – I would actually put this in my top 5 afternoon teas of all time, including all of the teas I've had in England πŸ™‚ Glad to hear it Lucy – I would put clotted cream on everything if I could!

      Polly xx

    • May 26, 2015 / 12:45 pm

      I knooow right! Chef Khala is some kind of wizard!

      Polly xx

  5. May 26, 2015 / 1:40 pm

    Aaah Polly! I definitely shouldn't have read this post with you looking so fab when I'm carrying around this much holiday flab and keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that my scales are faulty! But that said, that afternoon tea does look fabulous πŸ˜€

    • May 26, 2015 / 3:23 pm

      Youuuu cutie, that's a very sweet thing to say but I don't believe a word of it you hottie! Put the scales down πŸ™‚ The afternoon tea was wonderful, I have been craving it today!!

      Polly xx

  6. May 27, 2015 / 10:01 am

    I love how you wear these gorgeous glamorous dresses everywhere and then dine in gorgeous glamorous restaurants. Can I have your life? x

    • May 28, 2015 / 2:03 pm

      I only show you the extra glamorous bits on here. Trust me, most of the time I'm in PJ pants at home, gorging in pizza. It's not all champagne and afternoon tea, honest!

      Polly xx

  7. May 28, 2015 / 11:09 am

    Ahhh Polly, I'm now absolutely starving after reading this post! That afternoon tea looks glorious! Maaajor scone envy right now..!

    Lauren xx
    The Lifestyle Diaries

    • June 1, 2015 / 11:32 am

      These were some of the best scones I've ever had. If you ever happen to come to Doha, I'll definitely bring you here for scones and tea πŸ™‚

      Polly xx

  8. May 28, 2015 / 10:17 pm

    Awww I used to live in Doha so I love this post! It's so useful to have a bloggers take on dining in Doha, there aren't that many sources to look at xx

    • June 1, 2015 / 11:40 am

      NO WAY! Tweeting you now.

      Pleased you think this is a useful space πŸ™‚ There are plenty of amazing blogs popping up out here now but when I started there was hardly anything!

      Polly xx

  9. May 29, 2015 / 12:17 pm

    Wow what an incredible spot – that view AND fabulous food?? I'm drooling πŸ™‚

    • June 1, 2015 / 11:41 am

      It's rare to find a restaurant with views AND good food…but this place has it all πŸ™‚

      Polly xx

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