Valentine’s Day Dining in Doha
Planning for Valentine’s Day can be somewhat stressful. Granted, I’m a bona fide stress bag with a penchant for dramatic panic, but I think many can empathise with my anxieties in this case. Finding a spot for a romantic-but-not-overly-affected date gets challenging year in year out. My list from last year for date night in Doha largely stands (with perennial favourites Elements, Antica Pesa, Market and Hakkasan). But I have a few new spots worthy of your consideration this year. And being the age of austerity, I’ve loosely categorised them based on price point to avoid heart palpitations when the bill arrives.
Want to pull out all the stops? These spots put the double u in wow.
The Raw Bar
Intimate and sophisticated with food to match. As the name suggests, the entire menu in this enclave at The St. Regis is sans heat: carpaccio, tataki, caviar, ceviche, sashimi. The dainty plates of delicately prepared morsels are perfect with a few glasses of bubbles and appropriate flirting.
Latin passion is the name of the game. If smoked guacamole, beef anticucho and Brazilian churrasco light your fire, then look no further. The menu is broad enough to please everyone from meat lovers to pescaterians. Beware of those puffy cheese buns — they’re lethally addictive.
La Spiga by Paper Moon
Sometime early last year, La Spiga blossomed from a forgettable corner in a hotel into one of my favourite places to dine in all of Doha. The Italian plates are wonderfully flavoured and cooked with precision. Combine that with the W’s renowned service and attention to detail, and you can’t go wrong.
I’ve ummed and I’ve ahhed. Do I love Nobu, or do I love to hate Nobu? The tables sometimes feel too close, the Japanese Peruvian fare too pricey, and the staff somewhat pretentious. Then I have an excellent meal with a delightful server and all is forgiven. I simply can’t stay away. It’s Nobu.
Between Lux and Laxed
My go-tos for meals that more elegant, less extravagant.
Paper Moon’s location in Umm Guwailina is somewhat quizzical. But the dusty surroundings somehow amplify the charm of this Italian brand from Milan. The menu is quite similar to the sister outlet at the W, but is much more affordable in the absence of tipple. Have two desserts instead.
The level of Thai cooking here is on par with Doha’s other leading restaurant Isaan. But prices are a few marked notches lower, and the ambiance many higher. Even the walk to the poolside restaurant takes one on a little journey which echoes the calm of a holiday resort in Thailand.
If it’s views that matter most, Zengo delivers in boatloads. The pan-Asian restaurant sits on the 61st floor and capitalises on its vantage point with towering floor-to-ceiling windows. The menu is somewhat broad-ranging, but it’s the beautifully crafted dim sum that gets special mention.
Your date is vegetarian, and you think quinoa tastes like cardboard. Never fear; your friends at Evergreen Organics have a glorious solution. It’s more café than restaurant, but the leafy setting and flavor-packed bites provide a refreshing welcome to the city’s burger-obsessed dining culture.
These spots prove romance needn’t cost an arm and a leg.
A Chinese restaurant with an Indian touch. This massively successful brand from the subcontinent boasts interesting plates such as edamame truffle dumplings and cumin lamb. After years of having to pay ridiculous prices for the humble dim sum, Mainland China is a breath of fresh air.
The Chinese-Korean hybrid eatery is found on a quiet street behind the new National Museum more usually associated with the Playstation Café. Its iPad menus, built-in grill tables and spotless floors converge to create much more comfortable dining experience that’s also date-worthy.
Kababs and Curries
Ignore for a moment you’re next to a cinema inside a mall, in this case Zero One in Ain Khaled. This is the real deal when it comes to North Indian flavours. The tandoor oven churns out gorgeous breads and grills, and all the main dishes come in portions large enough for leftovers.
A juicy burger with blazing hot fries and a luscious milkshake to wash it all down. This is the epitome of true love for veteran romantics. After all, those who eat greasy food together stay together. Lessen the guilt by walking the meal off right outside, on the grounds of Aspire Park.
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