Marhaba foodie Sarah Morris visits Arabesque, the Middle Eastern concept restaurant focusing on freshly prepared, chef-driven dishes, in The Pearl—Qatar.
Arabesque, located in Porta Arabia offers a mixture of Arabic style food with perhaps a small hint of Indian influence and has been open since May 2017. Long enough anyway to have ironed out the usual opening snags so a perfect time to try. Not being a connoisseur of Arabic food, I took along an Arabic friend who also happens to have a hospitality background. This turned out to be a wise move, considering the range of dishes that are on Arabesque’s menu, I perhaps would have taken half an hour just to order if I were flying solo.
We did manage to place our drinks order far more expediently however and Sahlab, which can also be served warm, was a comforting start, being thick and luxurious. The spinach surprise mocktail was a healthier option, think of all that iron and as a bonus was not overly sweet, something I find can be a pitfall when ordering juices in Doha unless you remember to ask.
As it was winter, most people were enjoying the weather outside with heaters on the promenade and it made for rather a cosy scene. Arabesque seems to have a huge range of Arabic dishes as I mentioned, with four types of hummus from classic, avocado (we tried this, yum!), with beef and pine nuts and lastly, a mix of hot chilli with sumac and pomegranate. We really should have tried all of these but were glad we didn’t, as the food portions here are quite generous and there is not even a chance you will leave not feeling completely full. For shawarma fans, there is a bespoke menu to build your own, a bit like an Arabic Subway (but for the discerning of course) with choice of bread, filling and marinade. I made a mental note to return to try this for lunch or take away one day.
We ordered lentil and gulf sea soups, both were tasty and flavoursome. The appetisers followed, beetroot salad, beetroot being a favourite of mine, chicken liver fried with pomegranate molasses and pine nuts, Makanek Fakhara (hand-rolled spiced beef balls) and spicy potato balls. All of these were very rich-flavoured and quite delicious, being just a small selection of what was on offer.
The main courses of mixed grill (shish taouk, kabab and kofta) and the magnificent seafood platter, hammour cooked to soft perfection, white squid and shrimp were served promptly and looked truly stunning in their presentation. Both of the main courses were served with French fries and again, really were ‘to share’ sized portions.
By now, I felt rather like a ‘weeble’ and was ready to roll outside, but was easily enticed to stay by the promise of a ‘house special’, dessert of saffron cake and to my absolute delight a fusion of cheesecake and kounafa, is that possible seeing as both of these are in my top five desserts (yes I have five) What choice did I have? I know you are feeling so sorry for me at this point… these, I had to try and as you can see, just the look of them ensured I found a little space somewhere for that hit of sweet. The Kounafa Cheesecake I can and always could eat for breakfast and speaking of which, Arabesque even have their own breakfast menu and business lunches, takeaway or dine in.
To summarise, Arabesque is a good value restaurant where substantial, good quality portions of food are served from a wide variety of dishes. The food is subtly spiced, not overly hot and therefore quite warming not overwhelming for those of non-Arabic backgrounds. It is particularly a pleasant place to dine currently with the clement weather and I will be returning to test that shawarma menu. With the Manager promising that they will also have a shisha license soon, which I am sure will match the menu with gourmet flavour choices, in Arabesque, I have found a new cosy winter ‘spot’.
Author: Sarah Morris
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