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Which Ramadan Iftar Buffets am I going to this year? With so many to choose from, how can someone make up their mind. For most, I am assuming they will stick to what they know. They will plan their Iftar Buffets based upon venues they normally hang out at, or have good previous experiences. And of course they will attend those they are invited to.

I normally treat myself to a couple of Iftar Buffets during Ramadan, and for me it’s all about a good experience along with good value. There is a limit to how much food you can sensibly eat in one sitting. If all you want to be is full, then you don’t need to spend very much money at all. But if you want to enjoy a meal with good company and have some wonderful food that is a real treat, then you have to pay a little extra.

In past years I have tried low cost Iftar Buffets, and I have also tried the extremely luxurious options. With a couple of exceptions, I have always been full and happy regardless of cost. There were however those exceptions that were either so low budget that the quality was not worth the money and those that were so expensive they could never represent good value. Thus I normally try and go somewhere in the middle.

And for me that safe middle ground has a budget of between QR 100 – QR 150. Lower than that and I can go somewhere like Ponderosa which I always consider good value, and more expensive than that and I can take a good Friday Brunch in any of the hotels I frequent all year round.

The Village Restaurant (Midmac) ticks all of my boxes. The setting is luxurious, the customer service is high end, the food is exemplary and the price represents excellent value.

What sets an Iftar Buffet apart from buffets available any other time of the year is that feeling of togetherness. You arrive a little early, take your seat and stare at the dates, fruits and juices on your table. As the time to break fast approaches some will start to load their plates from the buffet and place them on their table ready to enjoy. And then as one, everyone tucks in as soon as it is proper to do so.

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Upon arriving at the Village Restaurant, we were greeted professionally and courteously. We were shown to our table and seated. Already for me I am in a very happy place. I simply love the decor in the Village, and they always allow plenty of room between tables. I feel relaxed and the table is set beautifully. And the room slowly fills with happy groups of people.

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The service in the Village is second to none. Our servers wore welcoming smiles, and offered to bring our drink requirements and our choice of one of the two soups on offer ready for breaking fast. And then we wait for the moment to begin.

As soon as it was safe to do so, I got stuck into my Iranian soup. It was soooo good. Next was the dates on my table. And then off to the buffet to fill my plate. I’m not going to describe everything I ate. But I have to give very special mention to the Indian Grill. Some of the very best I have ever had. Soft, moist and full of flavour. I will let my photos tell the rest of the food story.

Service throughout was faultless. Our plates were cleared from the table the moment they became surplus to requirements. And we had servers at hand to look after our every need.

Sure enough after less than one hour, we were bloated and reluctant to move. So we sat there enjoying the atmosphere and discussing if we could possibly fit in one more desert. Which we could not by the way, until we decided to take our full bellies home to relax.

The Village is at the high end of my Iftar budget coming in at QR 149 for adults and QR 75 for children. But with the quality on offer that represents really good value. The restaurant captures the spirt of Ramadan, and the essence of the Iftar Buffet.

I was a guest of the Village Restaurant for this visit, but as always my opinions and comments remain my own. And although I did not pay for my meal, I would have done so very gladly.

Having recently had very bad experiences with both Pizza Hut and Domino’s, I was quite keen to try out a new kid on the block.

Located next to the Centro Hotel in Al Jazeera Street, Castello is a small restaurant with takeaway on the ground floor and a seating area upstairs.

It’s prices are good with a small salami pizza costing QR 30 and a large costing QR 40. Margarita pizza QR 24 (S) / QR 34 (L) and a further 16 other toppings available.

Quality is Good. However Trip Adviser only allow the selection of Average or Very Good (nothing in the middle). And it is neither of those, so to be fair to them I gave them very good as their Trip Adviser rating rather than average.

The bases are made from scratch and I believe are all thin and crispy. I ordered a large Seafood for QR 49. The base was perfect, the topping was good (not average and not very good) just good. Not enough basil or oregano for me, and although they asked me how spicy I would like it (I said Spicy but not too spicy) there was no hint of spicy heat to be found. But I still enjoyed it. Was it worth QR 49…. yes it was. Would I go back again…. yes I would.

I’m looking forward to trying their other more interesting toppings that are not on the big high street chain menus.

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I have been hearing good things about the Indian Coffee House for quite some time. And yesterday I decided to pop along and give it a try.

Now here is the thing, I didn’t go and try one of their unlimited buffets that I have heard so much about. It could be that when I try one of those (which I am going to do sometime soon) I will consider them better value. But based upon yesterday’s visit I consider them overpriced.

For QR 24 I would expect my Mutton Biriyani to be exceptional, but I only found it OK. I have had as good as that at half the price.

Fish Mango Curry; The gravy/sauce was delicious. Loads of flavour with just the right amount of heat. I loved it. Except that there was hardly any fish in it. It was all sauce. And because of that I consider QR 22 to be too expensive.

Kashmiri Pulae Rice; Very nice, but once again a little on the expensive side.

Meal total for 2 people QR 80 including 3 x cans of soda water. QR 40 per head! Not worth it. I could have got much better value elsewhere.

Service was warm and friendly. Ambiance was very nice, and they do have plentiful private parking which is also very nice.

I will let you know what I think of their Breakfast Buffet once I have tried it. But I really do have high expectations of that, and I do believe I am going to be singing its praises once I have.

If you like BBQ Ribs, and I mean you like them a lot, then Applebee’s is worth a visit. I got mine with my ooredoo Nojoom points, but they normally cost QR 121.

Unfortunately for me, it was only after ordering I discovered I had a dental problem 🙁 which meant I couldn’t eat all I could, because it was too damn painful. But they were delicious so I forced myself to get at least one refill just to get value for money, or in my case value for points. Which to be honest, was a very stupid move as now I am heading off to the dentist with a worse problem than perhaps it could have been. Me stupid!

All you can eat ribs at Applebee's
QR 121 for unlimited refills of ribs at Applebee’s

The Mövenpick Hotel Doha is my current favorite Friday Brunch location. And yesterday we popped along for the Easter Brunch festivities. For me their British Roast Beef Dinner is one of the best in town, and yesterday it was even better with some gorgeous roast turkey added to my plate.

For the kids as well as the normal kids buffet and activities there were plenty of Easter themed attractions. And the chocolate Easter Bunnies were a lovely touch for them to take home.

I also have to give the chocolate mud pie a special mention. Absolutely delicious.

Last Thursday I was invited to take some photos at the award winning Italian restaurant ‘Antica Pesa’ located in the grounds of the Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel, on the Pearl Qatar.

One of the things I love about doing what I do, is visiting outstanding venues, meeting extremely interesting people and trying some exceptional food. Oh wait… that’s three things. Ah well…

Anyway, take a look at the images below and you will see what I mean 😉

Click on images to make them bigger

Stressed?! Need a vacation but can’t find the time? Then do like I did and book yourself into the Mövenpick Doha for a staycation. Or as they call it, their Brunchcation Package. Stay in this gorgeous hotel for one night (Thursday night) then have a relaxing morning by the pool before enjoying a sumptuous Friday Buffet Brunch which is included in the price.

DSC09667Let me start by stating that this promotion is absolutely outstanding value. For a solo guest (someone staying on their own) it’s QR 399. That’s a bargain. But where it becomes outstanding value and a mega bargain is when there are two or more of you. The price for 2 adults sharing is just QR 499 including that awesome Friday brunch. And if you take your kids and they are under 12 they get to stay with you and have brunch completely free as well! So potentially a whole family can chill and have a wonderful weekend break for just QR 499. A family of 4 works out at less than QR 125 each. However, children 12 and over are classed as adults and you will need to book another room for them at the same rate.

The Mövenpick Doha was opened in 2001, and is one of the pioneering big five hotels here in Qatar. But don’t let its age concern you. All its facilities are bang up to date with a luxurious feel and superior service that comes with a hotel of such heritage.

After you have checked in on Thursday night you can choose to stay within the hotel and make use of its restaurant, gym, pool, Jacuzzi and other in house facilities. Or venture out to take in the many attractions in easy walking distance such as Souq Waqif, the Islamic Museum of Art and the MIA Park. Or eat in one of the many eateries close by, from small cafes to the opulent Orient Pearl Restaurant. Before retiring to your deluxe room for a good night’s sleep.

The type of room you get depends on the number of people staying. As I was on my own I was given a Deluxe King room, and it was pure luxury. So Big! And my view over the corniche was outstanding. When I entered my room, there on the table was a lovely tray of fruit, cakes and even cheese and crackers. The air-conditioning was quiet and efficient, and the curtains are blackout curtains, so the room was completely dark once the lights were off. And I slept like a baby.

Sunrise seen from my room in Mövenpick Doha
Sunrise seen from my room in Mövenpick Doha

When you wake up refreshed in the morning you can choose to take a light breakfast like me and have a croissant with coffee, or you can take a seat in the restaurant for one of the best breakfast buffets in town. But to be honest that would be a mistake considering your buffet brunch will be starting at 12 noon. Breakfast is not included in the package, but you do get 30% off as part of the promotion. So the QR 75 breakfast buffet works out at QR 52.5 per person, but like I say with brunch coming along soon there really is no need. The 30% off also covers all food and beverages during your stay, so if you do dine in on Thursday night you get 30% off your bill for that as well. And they have a superb Seafood Buffet on a Thursday night which normally cost QR 150, but will only cost you QR 105 each. And trust me, it’s a really, really good seafood buffet.

Thursday Night Seafood Buffet in Seasons Restaurant Mövenpick Doha
Thursday Night Seafood Buffet in Seasons Restaurant Mövenpick Doha

After my breakfast of coffee and croissants, I changed into my swimwear and headed down for a morning by the pool. I ventured into the gym, but decided to spend some time in the steam room instead of doing all that hard work stuff. And before I knew it, it was time to change and get ready for brunch.

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Although I have never stayed in the hotel before, I have been to the Seasons restaurant a number of times. And the Mövenpick Doha has one of my favourite Friday brunches. It has everything that I like. I’m a roast beef fan, and they cook a really good roast beef which I had with roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy. A really good British Roast Dinner if you like. That was followed by a plate of sushi, sashimi and shellfish. Then an excellent chicken biriyani before a having a chocolate crepe with raspberries and coffee ice cream on top prepared for me. I wrapped the meal up with a selection of cheeses and fruit washed down with a nice cup of coffee.

That was my brunch, but there were many other options I could have selected from. Too many to mention, and way too much for me to have sampled everything. But there is something for every taste, and you like me will undoubtedly eat too much.

I seriously didn’t want to drive home. But alas I had work in the morning. So I resisted the temptation to book a second night and made my way home feeling refreshed, relaxed and very full.

For bookings and further details call: 44291111

We go to Applebee’s quite regularly here in Doha. And most of the time we very much enjoy our meal. The servers know us now and we never have a complaint about them. But their steaks can be a bit random on quality, sometimes requiring replacement. However I can strongly recommend the Applebee’s Caesar Trio Salad. This is a bargain at QR 65 and has chicken, shrimp and steak on the plate. Plenty of it as well even if you are very hungry.

Tofu House has a very good reputation here in Qatar. So I decided to give it a go. I ordered Tuna Gimbap (QR 15), Seafood Fried Noodle (QR 35) and Japchae Rice (QR 35) making a total order value of QR 85.

I was ordering for 2 people and there was plenty to eat between us. The taste was ok, but we struggled to see much difference in the taste between the two mains. They tasted so similar they simply must be using the same base stock mix.

Would I buy from them again? Humm… possibly. But I don’t think Tofu House is anything special, and in my mind doesn’t represent much more than reasonable value.

Tofu House Menu

Last night I was invited to the Qatar Living FOODIE MONTH Finale Dinner at the Santa Monica Breakfast Club located within the Grand Hayatt Hotel.

Like all Qatar Living events this was a great opportunity to mix with like minded people, and enjoy some great food. This particular event was the finale of the Qatar Living Foodie Month and their choice of venue was excellent.

Santa Monica Breakfast Club
Prime Time Burger

This was the first time I had eaten at the Santa Monica, and it didn’t disappoint. For me it was a bit weird ordering from a breakfast menu for dinner, but they have three excellent burgers on offer and so I went for one of those. My choice was their ‘Prime Time burger’ with caramelised onions, hash brown and a fried egg on top. Now bear in mind that the room is full of social media and food bloggers, so the staff were naturally a little on edge and very keen to get feedback on everything they served. After finishing my burger I was asked for my comments by my server and my reply was that I had no complaints. If someone is stupid enough to ask how my meal was they are going to get the truth good or bad, and a lot of the time they don’t like the answer I give them. So for me to say I had no complaints was actually a massive compliment, as I could not find fault in my meal. It was tasty, well balanced, cooked to perfection and well presented. As burgers go, this is a good one, but nothing outstanding or worth special mention.

Malt chocolate milk shake
Malt chocolate milk shake

I ordered a chocolate milk shake to go with my meal. It didn’t last very long. It was so yummy I couldn’t put it down and it was gone in a matter of minuets. Back comes my server who once again asks for feedback and this time I had a minor observation; The drink was too warm. I like my shakes to be nice and cold. This was just a little under room temperature. Chilling the glass first could have sorted that out easily. Anyway like I say it was a small observation and went on to order a second shake immediately.

Pancakes at the Santa Monica Breakfast Club
Pancakes at the Santa Monica Breakfast Club

I finished with a plate of pancakes. I asked for banana, maple syrup and mixed berries. You are allowed four toppings and I only asked for three, so it was probably my fault that their wasn’t enough going on, on my plate. The maple syrup came in a tiny jug, and there simply wasn’t enough to make my pancakes moist enough for me. Perhaps I should have ordered some cream as well. The banana was my savior, by adding a little of that to each mouthful it was palatable.  I got what I ordered, so it’s difficult for me to complain about what I got. However when asked for comments I pointed out that the maple syrup was not a big enough serving.

The Santa Monica Breakfast Club is what it says on the tin, a breakfast dinner. Without the burgers on the menu I would have been a bit stumped. Although there are plenty of delicious sounding breakfast items on the menu it’s unlikely I would go back here as a destination in an evening. But I think I will return to give it another go one Friday for a breakfast treat.

It was a fabulous evening, and I want to finish by thanking the guys at Qatar Living for inviting me along.

Santa Monica Breakfast Club at Grand Hayatt Doha
The Qatar Living FOODIE MONTH Finale Dinner at Santa Monica Breakfast Club at Grand Hayatt Doha

Last night saw the opening of the first Sawani Al Aker Restaurant, four years after Basem Al Aker launched his first Al Aker Sweet shop. His new restaurant chain brings to Qatar a wide range of Arabic cuisine under one roof. I popped along to snap some photos of the event and sample some of the fairs on offer.

Opening night of the first Sawani Alaker Restaurant
Opening night of the first Sawani Alaker Restaurant

As I expected the place was packed, but they seemed to manage to get the food out within a reasonable time considering the number of people and the fact it was their first night. The smell was amazing. They bake their own breads on site and use the same oven to cook meat dishes that are served in the same container they are cooked in. The shawarma and BBQ grill area were going flat out producing plate after plate of fabulous looking food. I only sampled some of their starters with some bread and let me tell you now it was damn good.

Opening night of the first Sawani Alaker Restaurant
Opening night of the first Sawani Alaker Restaurant

Of course, because Sawani Al Aker is right next door to an Al Aker Sweets, like me many people had their fill of savory and then went next door for their sweet. Those sat outside could have both delivered to their table.

Expect to see branches of Sawani popping up all over Qatar.