First, we would like to thank everyone who sent heart-warming messages over the summer to express so elegantly just how much they missed The Rue Brothers’ repartee. We promise to get back to both of you when we have a spare moment.
The giant neon ‘Welcome Back’ sign at Hamad International Airport was a particularly nice touch for one Brother Rue, who had spent two hours in baggage claim only to be informed his suitcases did not follow his same circuitous route. Merde! he muttered with unmistakable derision, as if he had never left Nice.
For the other Brother, who shall remain nameless, summer was not so much a sojourn as a self-inflicted sentence. He chose to forego the forays of foreign adventure and stay for the duration. After etching the days that crawled cruelly by on his office wall he did at least manage to dust off his passport for a day trip involving lunch for one on Banana Island.
Fish featured enticingly at the top of the menu, but suddenly he was struck down with paralysis by a pre-Ramadan recall of an evening spent at Pier 12, one of a dozen Radisson Blu restaurants. He was haunted by an egregious oversight subsequently blamed on his brazen brother. A deadline for Marhaba was overdue by three whole months. Panic set in and thoughts turned to early stage dementia as a drooling for pan-fried king prawns in aioli soon abated.
Back on the boat with the delights of Doha in the distance, he began to craft excuses but found none remotely plausible. So, suitably chastised and chastened, we are now happy to report that Pier 12 was sensational!
There is a decent choice of specialist fish restaurants in Doha these days, but quality preparation varies considerably along with price. On arrival, many crescent moons ago, one Brother Rue took delight in frequenting small cheap-as-chips eateries (mostly Indian) when a wholesome “fish fry” on Fridays remained a habit hard to kick.
Pier 12 is a league above, of course, but it is well positioned to compete with the best simply on value alone. Thanks to a certain Auguste Escoffier, that great grand-daddy of haute cuisine, we can still exult in Lobster Thermidor, his rich creamy mustard and cheese creation, but it is not mandatory for some hotels to highlight it on a menu for as much as QAR500. That, we both agreed, is codswallop!
At the Radisson Blu Hotel, Doha we were greeted gleefully by wide smiles even before we had time to crack the first joke. Indeed, both Chaminda (F&B duty manager) and Duminda (restaurant manager) exuded charm all evening when lesser mortals would have made a quickfire escape exasperated by an incessant inquisition.
We were then treated to a feast that seemed to comprise a melange of morsels from the entire menu. Chef Ashok and the ever-attentive Lalit were no kitchen automatons, that became clearly evident as the hours passed.
Several appetisers were crafted with crab from Alaska and salmon from Norway, served with delicate accompanying sauces and touches of simple splendour like tiny chunks of crisp leek. And here at Pier 12 the mussels really should be mandatory. Ours were enlivened by an oyster, herb and lemon sauce with a hint of Pernod but the exquisite newly minted menu features four options including a tempting Thai style recipe.
It was time for a short break but few words were uttered, which was a sudden departure from usual protocol and welcomed, we were certain, by all concerned. Instead, attention turned to the music.
One Brother Rue would sooner walk out of a restaurant than endure inane elevator-type music but in Pier 12 something intriguing with the surround sound was astir. Where else, he asked, have you heard Vivaldi followed by Bing Crosby? The Four Seasons, the other ventured, but such instant wit was either lost or did not travel across the table. Anyway, we both agreed that eclectic was good.
With one Brother Rue soon off to Provence it seemed foolish to disregard the Bouillabaisse on offer. It is a dish originally devoured by famished Marseilles fishermen that is now worshiped by purists (often pernickety Parisians) who follow only the traditional recipe. At Pier 12 the various herbs, leeks and fennel were simmered to perfection prior to the late arrival in the pot of Norwegian salmon chunks and mussels. Magnifique.
The fish-fest was unrelenting as we tried the local koffer (King Soldier Bream) and faskar (Sea Bream). Unlike the more popular hammour here in the Gulf, both species are not threatened by declining stocks and they are succulent surrogates. Also available and cooked to order were turbot, sea bass and Dover sole.
We have mentioned the new menu and there is much to recommend but we are delighted to report that a few mainstays have survived the cull. And, as one Brother Rue was quick to point out, this is where a value comparison with over-priced hotels becomes all-too apparent because for QR240, two can share an abundant fried fresh fish platter with ample chips, homemade coleslaw, mushy peas and tartare sauce.
Finally, we understand that beer-battered fish and chips, which has helped so much to spread the UK’s culinary influence overseas along with bangers and mash and Eton Mess, may be out of favour on the dining tables of Brussels and beyond after the European Union Brexit vote.
We consider goujon-frites to be an ambiguous alternative and possibly in breach of EU intellectual property laws, so we should emphasise that classic fish and chips at Pier 12 is also an outstanding choice. For those who voted Remain and have room for dessert there is always the Fresh Baked Belgium Waffle.
NEW ITEMS ON THE MENU
Clam Bay Chowder – Creamy potato soup with clams, smoked haddock and cod
Sweetcorn Chowder with Shrimps and Red Peppers – Potatoes in marjoram, bay leaf and nutmeg with the addition of corn, milk, large shrimps and roasted bell peppers
Thai Style Fish Cake – Made with hammour, salmon, prawns, zest and juice of lime, chili and fresh coriander
Scottish Smoked Salmon – Scottish smoked salmon and pink grapefruit served with a lemon crème fraîche
Steak Pie – Shoulder steak, served with a vegetable medley and a choice of boiled new potatoes, creamy mash or chips
Creamy Fish Pie – Filled with cod, salmon and smoked haddock. Served with garden peas and crusty bread
King Scallops with a Pea Purée & Mint Vinaigrette – Served with a chive mash and side of vegetables
Battered Salt & Pepper Squid with our own chili jam – Served with mixed leaf salad, chips or boiled new potatoes
Spicy Crab & Avocado Salad – With chili, lime juice, sesame oil, spring onions. Served with fresh chips or boiled new potatoes
Au Natural – simply cooked in their own juices
Marinière (A) – Fresh mussels steamed in white wine, shallots, pepper, fresh thyme, parsley and cream
Mediterranean – Fresh tomato sauce, roasted peppers and basil
Thai Style – Served with coconut milk, chili, fish sauce, garlic, lime and fresh coriander and lemon grass
Fresh Baked Belgium Waffle – With warm cherries, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream
© Marhaba Information Guide 2016. 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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