Just what is lunch? In a civilised world it sure ain’t wolfing down a sandwich while hunched over your keyboard, crumbs disappearing down into the qwerty, wreaking havoc with those keys – you could even lose ctrl!
But enough of this frivolity dear reader, and down to the serious matter at hand – a business lunch.
This week’s review comes to you from Al Dafna. Now, if your Arabic is not what it should be, I believe this means ‘reclaimed land’ – it’s the business district of Doha or, as you may know it, West Bay. To be precise, we are broadcasting from Prime, a contemporary venue on the first floor of the Intercontinental In The City (not to be confused with the larger Intercontinental Doha Hotel & Residences, near Katara Cultural Village) where they have just introduced a two, or three-course business lunch.
I sat at the far end of Prime, near the glass-walled kitchen, where they have, in my humble opinion, some beautiful chairs that seemed to have been formed from a lovely, glossy and no doubt exotic wood, which, I suspect, maybe from the coconut tree. But what do I know – please, don’t answer that!
As a bowl of tasty homemade breads arrived, accompanied by some delightful herb and tomato flavoured almond-shaped wedges of butter, the golden rule was about to kick-in – do not fill your little tummy up on the bread, no matter how tempting, because the main event is waiting backstage.
As a starter, Amil, the Prime Outlet Supervisor, recommended the artfully presented Argentinian beef carpaccio, served with arugula (that’s rocket to me and you) and shavings of parmesan, drizzled with a little garlic oil and finished off with a few blobs of English mustard to give it a kick.
My companion chose the smoked salmon with dill oil, lemon confit and lime cream, all which came together nicely to really set off the taste buds, and sharing these two dishes definitely makes for interesting starters.
Onwards to the main course – three options again and my choice was the Daube de Boeuf. Daube is a classic Provençal stew normally made with inexpensive beef and cooked slowly in a ‘daubière’ – a French braising pot. This particular recipe uses beef cheeks, one of my favourite cuts, and which, after cooking correctly, become meltingly tender, with a rich, deep flavour. The chef served them on a bed of mashed potato with peas and baby carrots. Delicious. As with the starters, we shared dishes, the other choice being a 180gm grilled minute steak served with a generous portion of steamed broccoli and a small boat of mushroom sauce. No, dear reader, you did not misread that as minute. It’s a thin, but full-sized (that is to say, not minute) slice from the sirloin and I am saying it was minute not minute! Yes, I know (sigh), the vagaries of the English language! You get the full treatment too, with Amil launching into a full-blown explanation of the origin of each steak knife before finally recommending a particular blade to tackle the, ahem, minute steak. We were definitely getting value for money. And dessert was still to come.
Tarte Tatin, so named after it became popular at the French Hotel Tatin and run at the end of the 19th century by two elderly French sisters of the name, yes, you guessed it dear reader, Tatin, is a dark, caramelised and most delicious apple tart. Coupled with the citrussy Exotic Vacherin, a delicately engineered selection of exotic fruits, those two desserts really cleared out anything hoping to linger on the post-lunch palate.
Overall, the quality, quantity and presentation were superb. Nothing too hefty for lunchtime but the portions are generous compared to some of the other ‘business lunches’ out there.
Smart casual defines this little gem of a restaurant. It’s not poolside, but it’s not formal, it’s fast, but it’s definitely not fast food and it is quality, but it is not expensive. And while the business lunch offers a nod towards the full à la carte evening menu it is still self-assured in its own right.
It has now been scientifically proven that, along with open plan offices and multi-tasking, desk-top lunches are simply counter-productive. Don’t quote me on that, but you know that you should get out of the office for an hour during the day, to gather your thoughts and recharge your grey matter. And after all, we are talking about a business lunch so that’s, sort of, ok.
It’s the Intercontinental in the City and it is in its Prime. You could close the deal there.
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International man of mystery, beachcomber extraordinaire, raconteur and bon vivant
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