The Rue Brothers, Marhaba’s foodie duo, visits Mykonos at InterContinental Doha Hotel & Residences.
Named after a glamorous Aegean party island, the restaurant has been given a facelift, as has the menu. How things have changed. Inside, Mykonos is now gleaming white with an attractive elevated centrepiece table adorned with plants that is ideal for small parties. The large patio facing the pool and beach remains popular when weather permits and thanks to the influence of Marios Triantafyllou, the hotel’s restaurants manager, and chef Constantinos the delightful ambience is unmistakably Greek.
And, remarkably, for a second consecutive week the fussy Brother Rue was effusive about the melodic traditional music on offer but thankfully stopped short of requesting his favourite Demis Roussos song. The new menu has been carefully crafted to include several regional dishes inspired by typical family recipes. We anticipated a long evening ahead.
To start, we closed in on the sautéed prawn saganaki, named after the pan in which it is prepared. It was cooked with a piquant tomato and pepper sauce for which homemade bread is strongly advised to complete a marvellous “mopping up” process. Greek style fried potatoes, sliced thinly to the point of being translucent and topped with feta cheese and herbs, were equally addictive.
We rarely order meatballs because we are so often disappointed but chef Constantinos has mastered the art by using a little baking soda, being careful that they are bite-sized and simply adding wonderfully pungent Greek oregano. They were expertly seasoned and textured for dipping in a refreshing yoghurt mint sauce. Superb.
Healthy salads, ubiquitous from Athens to Zakynthos, are rightly regarded as imperative for a satisfying Greek lunch or dinner. We opted for the excellent combination of beetroot (regarded as a “super food” in many medical studies these days), peppery wild rocca leaves, cherry tomatoes and feta crumbles.
Despite a well-earned track record of over-indulgence when Marhaba grants us a pass after curfew, one Brother Rue asked if the restaurant could serve half portions for the main course but Marios, looking aghast and slightly insulted, would have none of it.
So suffer we did.First up was paputsaki, a rustic Greek dish of aubergine (eggplant for non-English speakers) stuffed with minced beef, herbs, tomatoes, a light béchamel sauce and topped with parmesan. It was ideal for sharing, which was fortunate because of the feast that followed.
We could not pen a professional review without trying the lamb kleftiko or, as legend has it, “thieves’ lamb”. During unruly days the meat was wrapped in parchment and cooked slowly to allow ample time for a spot of neighbourhood robbery.
“It’s robbery that we are writing this for nothing,” one Brother Rue was swift to remark, careful not to reveal if he was joking. Anyway, the lamb shank and bone were easily parted, which is always a good sign, as the aroma of oregano, rosemary, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and Greek balsamic vinegar wafted in harmony while the dish was devoured.
By this time the Retsina was obviously loosening the tongue because one Brother Rue ordered Astakomakaronada as if he had been born and bred on Mykonos. This creation is a favourite lobster dish throughout Greece served with linguine, tomato sauce, basil and olive oil. As Marios looked on with a satisfied smile, we concurred that it would have been idiotic to order nothing but full servings because this seafood delight, which defies any spell check program, was simply delicious.
For the final flourish, more linguistic challenges lay ahead. We ordered sokolatopita, a moist, velvety chocolate pie, and karydopita, a walnut cinnamon cake with syrup and served with vanilla ice cream.
They were a perfect choice to complete a marvellous meal of Olympian proportions. Both chef Constantinos and Marios earned a gold medal place on the podium. And, as we laboured back from our Herculean efforts, thoughts of think tanks, avaricious politicians and austerity were happily erased. At least for the time being.
The Rue Brothers review restaurants exclusively for Marhaba. They have spent a combined 40+ years in Qatar and think they know their onions, and kofta kebabs, by now
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