The new menu at El Faro is a beacon of delicious Spanish cuisine here in Doha. The menu received a complete overhaul by new resident Chef de cuisine Alejandro. His passion for fresh, authentic and classic Spanish dishes shine through and seems to be causing the splendour of the new dishes on offer.
El Faro means ‘lighthouse’ in Spanish so it’s highly fitting that this wondrous restaurant perches on an island in the heart of The Pearl – Qatar. Of course, I mean the same ‘island’ that the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl – Doha resides.
The restaurant may have been open for 5 years, but the menu is all new! The core ideal of the menu is for guests to share and enjoy a couple of hot tapas, a couple of cold tapas, and perhaps a few desserts. It’s a wonderful venue to bring your friends, family and perhaps even your colleagues.
Th captivating history of Spain is woven in the meal right from the beginning: take, for example, the bread. When it arrives at your table, gloriously warm and fresh from the oven, it is a authentic sourdough bread served with traditional tumaka. Chef Alejandro told us that the reason that sourdough bread was so popular in Spain was that during the Civil War when supplies were limited it was the cheapest bread to make and quickly became an intrinsic part of Spanish culture.
Another dish that has been woven in with tradition and culture on the menu at El Faro is the Tudela lettuce hearts with assorted anchovies. All these different flavours of anchovies came about in Spain because fisherman would go to sea and catch huge amounts of fish but they had no way to preserve them except to pickle them or smoke them etcetera. This dish showcases the results of each method of preservation by featuring lots of varieties of anchovies. Now usually, I’m not a fan of anchovies – in fact I make a habit of avoiding them – but Chef Alejandro assured me that I would enjoy them. And he was right! The strong fishy flavour was offset by a smoky flavour or a sharp vinegar flavour so it really allowed you to appreciate each flavour of anchovy. If you’re a seafood lover – this plate is a must-try.
Along with the Tudela salad we were given a Russian salad made with tuna and crab meat. This disc of tuna and crab meat was incredibly flavourful and creamy. Again, although made with seafood, the strong fish and salty flavours were matched perfectly with the creamy dressing and spices.
The last of our cold tapas to arrive at the table was the ensalada de queso de cabra carmelizada con pina, neuces garrapinadas y vinagre de Xerez or the prawn, avocado, and kumuto salad served with a Sherry vinegar reduction. This dish was my favourite of the evening. It was utterly delicious and so light and refreshing I could have eaten it again for dinner the next night, and the next… and possibly the night after that.
Next, we moved on to the hot tapas. Everyone has tried a Spanish omelette at some point in their life but dining at El Faro gives you the perfect opportunity to taste the authentic Spanish version cooked by Chef Alejandro. The mix of eggs, potatoes and herbs tasted incredible as we scooped it out of a sizzling hot iron pan – no extra seasoning or dressing required.
Another staple of Spanish cuisine that everyone knows are croquettes. The croquettes served at El Faro are filled with a chicken stew and leek ‘cecina’ or dried meat. This is yet another homage to Spanish cuisine as the origin of croquettes was for people to reuse all ingredients that were left over and avoid wasting valuable meat and fish. These croquettes are made with only the finest ingredients and have a wonderfully creamy filling and a crispy, fried exterior.
Our last plate of hot tapas was the gambas al ajillo or the sauteed prawns with garlic and chilli. These five huge prawns were cooked to perfection ad served in a spicy chilli and garlic sauce.
How could we come to a Spanish restaurant and not try the paella? The paella at El Faro symbolises what the entire menu is trying to accomplish: sharing with friends and family. The plate is absolutely huge and could easily serve six people or four hungry ones. We decided to try the chicken and vegetable paella. The rice was seasoned and cooked to perfection, with all the flavours of the ingredients coming together with every mouthful. Of course, we had to ask: what’s the secret to such amazing paella? Chef Alejandro explained that it’s all about the rice. You can’t just use any rice… it has to be ‘bomba’ rice flown in directly from Spain. ‘Bomba’ rice absorbs three times its volume in water as opposed to the average rice grain, which means it absorbs more flavour and doesn’t stick together making it the perfect rice for paella.
Our last dish of the evening was an oxtail stew paired with rosemary mashed potatoes and baby carrots. The meat was wonderfully rich, with a strong flavour of tomato and herbs and the meat fell apart in your mouth. The mashed potato was soft and creamy and the rosemary worked so well to elevate the taste.
And to end this incredible meal we delved in to a huge plate of Catalonian crème and homemade churros served with lashings of sweet chocolate sauce. The churros are homemade from scratch, and taste best with heaps of chocolate sauce. The Catalonian crème, however, reminded me of a crème Brule. Neither of them lasted long on the plate!
Chef Alejandro’s dedication to the authenticity of Spanish flavours and culture has truly made this menu, and restaurant, special. The lighthouse, El Faro, is now a beacon of traditional and genuine Spanish delicacies here in Qatar, and is absolutely worth a visit.
El Faro is open every night for dinner from 5 pm to midnight, to book your reservation please call 4035 5011 or WhatsApp 7479 0864. visit their website by clicking here.
Author: Charlotte Wright
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