Already one of the most popular hotels to dine at in Doha, with the recent opening of the award-winning STK restaurant among its portfolio, The Ritz-Carlton, Doha continues to develop and reinvent the gastronomic scene. Hence, we were on our way to their newest offering, Sel & Miel, for the opening night.

The clue being in the name – Sel & Miel is French for ‘salt and honey’ – my dining partner and I were excited about the prospect of some delicious brasserie-style food. Swotting up about the restaurant concept beforehand, Sel & Miel promises ‘joie de vivre’ or the joy of living. Having once lived in France (most joyfully as well), I was looking forward to reliving some happy dining memories.

Sel & Miel is located on the lower ground floor of the hotel, where Porcini restaurant once was. It has had a total refurbishment, however, and now sports contemporary yet luxurious decor – this is one chic French brasserie! From the moment you step in and walk down a couple of stairs, you are immediately aware of how Sel & Miel has somehow managed the impossible – to be modern yet homely, with no trace of the smell of tabac or wobbly wooden chairs to sit on, but with that indescribable relaxing ambience that comes with French dining.

We were shown to a comfortable table pour deux opposite the kitchen, where you can observe all manner of activity. Menus in hand, our waiter was most informative and while we were waiting for les entrées, brought over the most divine selection of bread and accoutrements, including gluten-free bread for me and their house honey, which is simply delicious. In fact, the menu is full of dietary advice for those who have allergies or special requirements.

A scan of the menu revealed a number of favourites: oysters, crème de crustaces (shellfish bisque), sole meunière and cuisse de canard confit (crispy duck leg confit).

We decided on our own personal favourites for hors-d’œuvre – cocktail d’avocat-crevettes bouquet (shrimp cocktail, albeit a much more elevated take on this 1970s dinner party staple) and escargot de Bourgogne for mon ami. Juicy shrimps gently nestled on a bed of avocado, lettuce and grapefruit, and were lightly coated with a piquant cocktail sauce. Mon ami declared the snails as the best he has had in a long time. Très bon so far!

During dinner service, dishes are designed to be shared, such as Planche de charcuterie and Sole meunière. I chose Bar de ligne en croûte de basilic et sauce vierge (or sea bass with basil dressing, courgettes, tomatoes and olives), which arrived on a huge slab of pink Himalayan salt – the only restaurant in Doha to do this, our server informed us. You can even be interactive with your food if you so choose, and cook the mixed vegetables on the salt slab. But be careful – it’s very hot!

The house special Bourguignon de joue de boeuf or slow-cooked beef cheeks was apparently another sharing dish, but somehow never found its way from mon ami’s side of the table. We were informed that the beef is marinated for four hours in red wine and then braised for another 20 hours. And ‘oh wow’, it showed!

As is so often the case, les accompagnements were stars in their own right – super smooth and creamy pomme purée, haricots verts, pomme frites and carrotes vichy. And generous portions too!

It was only right that we finished off our meal with those perennial feel-good desserts tarte tatin, with juicy chunks of apple slices and decadent vanilla ice cream (again the best in town), and crème brûlée pistache, which had a most satisfactory crunchy sugary top layer revealing the soft pistachio cream beneath. Délicieux!

Sel & Miel is open daily for lunch noon – 3 pm and for dinner 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm. Reservations are recommended.

Review by: Sarah Palmer

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The Ritz-Carlton, Doha Opens First French Brasserie ‘Sel & Miel’ in Qatar