dOHA dIARY

lIvING It uP At lA mER

by rory coe n

LA MER RESTAURANT, RITZ-CARLTON DOHA
Staff at the hotel ShoW off itS recent honourS and accreditationS

s one of the most exclusive restaurants in Doha, I found the atmosphere at La Mer decidedly inclusive. The interior design is sophisticated and elegant, and complements the flavours of its new French chef. Situated high on the 23rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, La Mer sweeps its casting eye over the city of Doha. An idyllic vista – the lucent Pearl-Qatar on the immediate left is set in front of the appendages of West Bay; south of this is the Corniche which channels into the sprawling human habitat. You’ll probably spend a few moments trying to find your house, as I did. Of course I sat down with my back to all this. After being shown to my table I neglected to take advantage of the view during my meal. I was scolded by the waiter for my lack of ambition and he repositioned me on the opposite side of the table – facing the remarkable view. He didn’t entertain my argument for a second; as I was the first to arrive, I felt it rude to turn my back to my fellow guests and waiting staff. To temper me until my cohorts arrived I was offered some bread with four different types of butter – garlic and herbs, chilli and lime, sweet and plain. For a man who judges

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his quality of life on his ease of accessibility to choice brown bread, Doha hasn’t been all that great but La Mer didn’t disappoint – the bread with the garlic butter in particular was sublime to taste. Let’s eat When our table had its full complement of guests, we ordered. I didn’t look any further than the lobster; I had my menu down and was back eating the bread before the others had even found the right page. I had never had it before and if I was ever going to break my duck, this was the place to do it. There’s something about lobster which means you’re living. Such was my ignorance regarding the clawed crustacean I was relieved when another guest ordered in kind. I knew enough to know it wasn’t as simple as eating mashed potato with gravy. I had sweaty visions of myself taking out a lump hammer and bolster to get at the good stuff. So now, at least, it would simply be a case of “monkey see, monkey do”: whatever way she attacked it, I would do the same. However, as it transpired, my obtuse panic was averted by the manner in which Chef Olivier Catora presented it. The Le Homard selon La Mer was the chef’s vision of how lobster should

be prepared. It came in three distinct, yet complementary offerings. I was quickly briefed that this was how our chef rolled – each main course on his menu was tendered as a trinity and this was the lobster variety. On the centre plate were three lobster medallions equipped with the famous French beurre blanc truffle flavour and tartine mascarpone coral mousse. On its right was an astounding lobster thermidor risotto and on its left was a bisque and cod fish, which I wasn’t so enamoured with. It was one of those things you either love or hate apparently. Either way, I was able to keep my hammer and bolster on my tool-belt and use traditional cutlery instead. I had the crispy chicken, stuffed with wild mushrooms, beef bacon with reblochon foam to start and a chocolate fondant with vanilla sauce and white chocolate ice cream for dessert. Let me be the first to apologise for writing these in English – they sound so much more parochial in French. La Mer is open every day, except Saturday, from 6.30pm to 1am. Private dining rooms and the adjacent bar are also elegantly designed environments in which to relax and sample classical dining in its finest form. No better place to retreat after polishing off a lobster and chocolate fondant

1 1 6 Qatar today

january 2013

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