Tucked away at the Intercontinental Doha The City you will find the Prime steakhouse. Suitably decadent and a blend of everything you want from such an establishment – traditional dark wood, atmospheric pools of light, and a modern take on the decor. The tables are spaced appropriately to give privacy without feeling either cramped or isolated, and the private dining room is available for those that feel the need. Maybe it’s just me, but I do need a few people around me to create atmosphere and, when we arrived, the restaurant was full – surely a good sign!
Except for the glass safety-screen, there are no doors between customers and kitchen. It is a fully interactive and honest experience where they cook simply but skillfully, and they know their stuff to the point of being able to tell whether the cow has been grain or grass fed just by looking at the marbling on the meat. You can watch the chefs taming the flames leaping from a vast hunk of meat in the open kitchen, as they turn out grilled meats while chit-chatting to any diners who wander over for an inspection.
The short ribs. Braised for 36 hours. Yes, 36! A long-standing favourite that has proven impossible to substitute, you just have to try them to understand why. The presentation may be modern, but don’t ignore it as that’s where the roasted butternut, spinach and, in particular, the wasabi, are lurking. Mop them up with the deliciously tender meat and then look up ‘umami’ in the dictionary. Enough said.
Following chef de cuisine Riane Stubbs’ recommendation we opted for the tenderloin Wagyu and Australian Black Onyx ribeye to get a handle on both. From a glittering array of razor-sharpknives Mr Amila Weerasinghe will invite you to choose your weapon with which to attack your steak, not that it needs it, but it adds to the experience. To be perfectly honest, I’d forgotten how good steak can be, and both were excellent. Opt for a large portion – you won’t regret it – and share a selection of the delicately dressed side dishes.
There is also a signature burger on the menu that is served with delicious melted alpine raclette cheese right at your table. The concept, introduced by French chef Remi Van Peteghem, adds a little theatre and the last time I saw it was in the French alps, so it might just evoke a few memories if you try it.
Prime is more persuasive confirmation of Doha’s gastronomic ascension to the top table. The calibre of the chefs in sincere pursuit of their particular strain of excellence, founded on their craft and good taste, is passionate, but pragmatic, and speaks directly to your taste buds.
Everyone on the team, from Zarina our greeter, to Ravi Teja, our server, to the chefs and managers, is a professional, and they have given consideration to the basic fact that the customers’ needs should take precedence. Prime is a grown-up restaurant serving affordable food with a relaxed sense of informal fine dining – a concept that’s not without validity in this day and age.
Review by: David Moore
International man of mystery, beachcomber extraordinaire, raconteur and bon vivant.