We may have mentioned that the concept of an “express lunch” is alien to us.
One Doha restaurant had the effrontery to impose two sittings (11.30 am and 1 pm) on its customers so an attempt to book a noon reservation was met with an impolite and implausible “non”. Perhaps the management had read too many business school case studies and decided to combine Sam Walton-style retailing (“pile ’em high”) with the factory feel of a fast food burger joint. On arrival at 1 pm the place was empty and soulless.
One Brother Rue recalled the far-sighted approach adopted by an eatery in London’s Smithfield meat market district, which became so popular with blue-collar workers finishing their night shift that it stayed open until evening serving “all-day breakfast”. It quickly became a huge hit with suited City and media types as well.
Walton, founder of the world’s most successful retail chain Walmart, would most certainly have approved because value and service underpinned the phenomenal rise of his company. We would also surmise that, coming from Arkansas, he would have favoured a good old-fashioned steakhouse any day.
Embarking on a midweek lunch assignment – an occurrence as rare as a steak tartare – we ventured forth to the New York Steakhouse at the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha. Having spent several enjoyable hours over dinner at the elder Marriott’s JW’s Steakhouse earlier in the year we were eager to avoid repetition such as recounting the history of chophouses (see The Rue Brothers passim), but we did wonder how we would fill the allotted word count.
Well, we should have worried not a jot. Arriving at 1 pm we were immediately introduced to chef de cuisine David Dahlhaus. A split second after hands were shook and pleasantries exchanged one Brother Rue (who shall remain nameless) began his tirade about the indigestible notion of an express lunch.
Thankfully, genial German-born David concurred and expressly said we would not be hurried or harried. Officially, the New York Steakhouse shuts for lunch at 3pm. We left at 4pm.
David has spent eight months in Doha and the previous eight years in the UAE, where he encountered life in the fast lane as part of the launch team at Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, the extraordinary hotel that straddles land and sea as part of the fabulous Formula 1 venue.
And, to highlight the point that today’s sought-after chefs need to be ambitiously adventurous, his impressive CV also includes a stint at Noma in Copenhagen under the tutelage of René Redzepi. This masterful head chef shot to worldwide prominence when Noma was voted best restaurant in the world not once, but twice, in 2010 and 2011.
Efforts to persuade the Marhaba hierarchy that this should be the key assignment that establishes The Rue Brothers as an international brand appear to have been ineffective so far. Perhaps our email was inadvertently directed to Spam, so hope springs eternal that we may one day sample the Lobster, Lavender and Rose Oil followed by a Danish with Seaweed and Liquorice.
But we digress, so back to New York Steakhouse and our demonstrative chef David who joined us at the table again, this time heaving a huge platter of top quality beef that included the massive and well-named Tomahawk chop much favoured by Qatari clientèle. Alas, it was for illustrative purposes only.
Australia (Rangers Valley Wagyu and Mullwarra Black Angus), United States (Omaha USDA Prime) and Argentina (free range British breeds) are all of the highest quality and offer excellent choice in terms of texture, flavour and price.
We were enticed to taste all three appetisers on the lunch menu. The Mushroom Soup served for us as an amuse bouche had a perfectly light richness (no that is not contradictory!). The Alaskan King Crab Cake was suitably golden in complexion with corn relish and a subtle smoked horseradish cream adding gusto. And the Caesar Salad comprising whole reassembled baby gems, white anchovies (slightly pickled – a Danish touch perhaps), deliciously deep-fried beef bacon and garlic croutons was an outstanding success.
It was now only 2 pm so between courses conversation continued as one Brother Rue innocently asked why German chefs did not receive the credit in the culinary world that they perhaps deserved. After all, Germany is second only to France in terms of three-star Michelin restaurants. David’s best form of attack was defence in typical Bayern Munich style, simply insisting that “Germany had the best chefs, but France had the best ingredients”.
For the main course we were also spoiled, despite the German chef faux pas. Along came a whole Norwegian Dover Sole a la Meunière (there really is no other way to prepare this delightful fish) served with confit tomato and potato, clarified butter, parsley and capers.
The Australian Black Angus Rib Eye from grass-fed cattle, but 120 days grain finished (a most suitable compromise), was tender and succulent, complemented laudably with simple asparagus, cherry tomatoes and carrots.
By this time (it was about 3.15pm) David himself looked ravenous but he remained a contented spectator as we contemplated the BBQ Glazed Short Ribs confronting us. With minimal daintiness and decorum one Brother Rue dived in with a shrug of delight and fork in hand.
For some reason, ribs on the bone and off are much neglected on menus outside of the US these days, but do not regard these smoky delights from the Corn Belt with any hint of disdain. After four hours of care and attention, oven cooked in beef jus with celery, heritage carrots and peeled tomatoes, they simply melted away.
We both agreed that Omaha was rightly famous for producing Warren Buffett and should receive some credit for hosting baseball’s College World Series but the Short Ribs went straight to number one in our estimation.
Once we had finished salivating and fearing we might stay for dinner, chef David courteously said he had to begin preparations for an evening function. He explained that he had to prepare an “express banquet”. OK, count us out, we said.
© 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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