There is simply no escaping Msheireb Downtown Doha these days. Considered by many experts to be the leading example of urban regeneration, large parts of the development is open to the public, with the fabulous new Doha Metro whizzing people in and out via the service’s main station.
Not too far away from said station is one of the development’s premier properties, the Mandarin Oriental, Doha hotel. It opened just a couple of months ago, and just recently was our first chance to experience the hotel chain’s renowned luxurious hospitality.
Our dining experience for the evening was Izu, split over two levels and offering distinctly Mediterranean dishes – apparently inspired by Chef Izu’s travels around Spain, France, the UK and the Middle East. We were seated on the mezzanine level – well, we got to our table eventually after ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at the beautifully minimalist décor. It’s really quite spectacular.
Izu follows up the minimalist décor with a similar theme for its food. The concept is fresh and simple tastes with big flavours, to be leisurely shared with friends and family. The problem is everything on the menu sounds so delicious and we didn’t have all night to sit and think, as we were too hungry!
Thankfully our server Léonard proved exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable about the menu, providing some much-needed recommendations, especially in view of my gluten allergy.
We ordered the beetroot salad with goat cheese and pistachios along with the crab and prawn croquettes to start – and lo, a special surprise, as Chef had kindly prepared fried calamari with potato starch to ensure it was gluten-free. What a great touch, and shows what awareness the restaurant has. And – more importantly – it was all totally delicious!
A small pause in proceedings gave us the chance to admire the décor once more. Our prime position afforded us a wonderful view overlooking the ground floor section of the restaurant and its accompanying terrace, which extends out into the courtyard of Barahat Msheireb town square. Directly opposite us as we looked out of the window was a stark, dark grey wall with no windows. How odd, we remarked. Léonard stepped in and informed us that the wall is deliberately unadorned, as it’s actually an outdoor movie projector screen! Anytime you want to watch a big sports event – yes, we’re thinking ahead to the World Cup here – you can do so from the comfort of Izu restaurant. Great news – 1-0 to Izu!
¡Hola! It was time for the main event … and muy bien would be an understatement! I had the Scottish salmon, served with fennel and microherbs – oh sorry, was this meant for sharing? My partner had equally selfish intentions with his slow-braised beef short ribs with Padron pepper, which remained on his side of the table. However, we did deign to share the sides, perfectly cooked green beans and spinach.
Yet again Léonard was there with his recommendations for dessert, and it seemed rude to refuse. Hence we found ourselves tucking into one of the biggest crème brûlées we’d ever seen, and the French toast with milk ice cream. Yes, yes, I know, I keep saying we’re not dessert people, but I’m beginning to change my mind!
So Mandarin Oriental, Doha has a hit on its hands – Izu may be the new kid in town but it already seems like an old friend you want to revisit again and again. Delicious food and exemplary service, what more can you ask for? You will find that one table has been booked until at least 2022 though…!
For more information visit mandarinoriental.com/doha/msheireb/luxury-hotel, call 4008 8888
Dinner – Monday to Saturday 6:30 pm – 11 pm (Mezzanine Floor)
A la carte – Sunday to Thursday 11 am – 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 9 am – 11 pm
Author: Sarah Palmer
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