Is it possible to taste a continent? The stories of its spices and aromas take us on a cultural tour where the essence of experience exists outside our culinary comfort zone. Without a doubt, it’s the journey that counts – and it’s a trip that The W Doha’s Spice Market restaurant embarks on with gusto.
Since opening in Doha in 2009, the restaurant franchise of famed Michelin Star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, quickly became a favoured haunt for the nine-to-five happy hour congregation, who came seeking a social atmosphere far from the madding crowd. They kept their company and stayed for the food – earthy offerings from a continent heaving in diversity, bringing with them memories of trips long past, or yet to come.
Though more than a few Executive Chefs have passed through its galley kitchen over nearly a decade of service, Spice Market’s street food-style ethos has always been well-executed. And it’s been this level of consistency, coupled with its quality of service that’s kept its tables booked and its awards accumulating.
The restaurant’s Friday Street Food Brunch is a Doha institution, and the ILQ team recently stopped by as a guest of the hotel to sample some of its fresh offerings. The first weekend after the New Year, the restaurant was uncommonly quiet for a Friday – but we put that down to folks either still travelling, or recovering from festive season overindulgence. In line with its sharing-style concept, the circular seating arrangements evoke a sense of family atmosphere, and we’re seated at a cosy, round table in the center of the restaurant.
With nearly 10 vibrant buffet and live cooking stations scattered throughout its den-like interior, even the pickiest of eaters will be able to find something to please their palate. There’s stalwart sushi rolls, freshly-made pad Thai, a world of curries and home-baked paratha on the griddle, a flavoursome hot dish buffet station, savoury salads, and a dessert line-up too pretty to do anything but eat.
Making our way around the brunch, travelling the world on a plate, stand-out dishes included a taste of India with a sumptuously spicy chicken curry, saffron rice, and crisp, crackling paratha; rare roast beef with chimichurri-style pesto sauce and miso-roasted potatoes; a tangy-sweet Thai pomelo salad; and a miniature version of their one-and-only miso caramel pudding.
The design is in the details with little extra touches such as table-side canapé service (satay skewers and black pepper shrimp bites), and handmade, hand-paddled ice cream ‘crêpes’ that are not to be missed. The restaurant has also mixed up its entertainment element for the Street Food brunch, having recently brought in a DJ in lieu of a live band.
The play-list is upbeat yet elemental, if a bit loud. Perhaps our table was underneath one of the speakers but at times we found ourselves drowned out. There’s also something nicely interactive about the atmosphere when there’s live music during brunch.
That being said, the Spice Market experience ticked most of the essential Friday brunch boxes – endless options, vibrant ambiance, soulful service, and food that’s as deliciously exotic as the continent it comes from.
About Spice Market Doha
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