Super pleasantly surprised

Just occasionally I get a nice surprise. And on Friday I was super pleasantly surprised. We headed to a restaurant located in a mall. Now when I think of restaurants in malls, my expectations are not that high. But this restaurant quite simply doesn’t belong in a mall. I’m talking about ‘Layali Aley’. Located on a corner of Gulf Mall, and accessible only from the outside. So you could argue it’s outside a mall instead of inside.

We have visited and paid for our breakfast at the SMBC. Our review is first hand informed and independant
We have visited and recommend Layali Aley

I knew nothing about the restaurant in advance. I was invited by my son to go with him, and he didn’t know much about it either until we got there. So this is why I had such a pleasant and unexpected surprise.


Layali Aley is quite simply opulent. Oozing with quality and comfort. And serving some of the best Lebanese cuisine I have ever tried. Their food is right up there with the very finest in Qatar. Not what you expect to find in a mall. And here is the real kicker… they are really, really, reasonably priced. Our three courses with drinks (excluding shisha) came to around QR 200 each. And trust me you would not mind paying it.

The soft furnishings mean you feel relaxed and unhurried. This is an environment where you can settle down and dwell. The service was attentive and informative, and quite educational as well for me. There is nothing rushed about Layali Aley. You do not feel like you are being processed, harvested and your table released as soon as possible.

Exceptional food

The food was exceptional. I’m not a food critic, so I’m not going to bore you with detail. I will simply say that the food was cooked to perfection, presented beautifully and burst with flavor.


After our meal we settled back and enjoyed some shisha. I’m not a shisha expert, but this was good shisha. If you don’t like smoke there are areas where you can escape it.

If you are in, or near Gulf Mall. I strongly recommend you set aside some time for Layali Aley. Take some good company with you, and be as pleasantly surprised as I was. Ask for Krishna, he will look after you.

Layali Aley: +974 44 56 82 45

Located in Gulf Mall

An Indian Restaurant worth discovering

I need to tell you about a really nice Indian restaurant Vic and I discovered near Abu Hamour. While out for a drive we both felt hungry and both fancied a curry. So we check our Entertainer App for a nearby Indian restaurant and Kababs and Kurries caught our attention. We decided that Kababs & Kurries would be a good choice as it’s located in 01 Mall and we could pop into the Mega Mart branch there at the same time.

Upon arrival

We arrived in Kababs & Kurries around lunch time. It was not busy with only two tables occupied. Staff were warm and welcoming and Veg & Non Veg Thali offerseated us in one of their booths that had the ability of becoming private by closing their curtains (which we did not). We were working our way through the menu pondering which two courses to order when I spotted an advertisement on an adjacent table for a lunchtime offer. Our Entertainer App had a voucher for ‘Buy one main course, get another main course free’. So we intended to order two main courses and share them, which is our normal modus operandi. But we decided not to use our Entertainer voucher and go for the ‘Non Veg Thali’ at QR 55 each instead (only available 12pm to 4pm).

After ordering we were invited to select which flavor yogurt drink we wanted to accompany our meal. I can’t remember what the options were, but both Vic and I went for mango. Whilst waiting for food, I started sipping away at my mango yogurt drink and considered that in other establishments I would have been charged around QR 20 for the drink alone. And it would have been worth it! I love yogurt drinks and this was delicious. We were also given nibbles and dips to keep us occupied while awaiting the main event.

Tastes as good as it looks

When our food arrived it looked amazing. And it tasted every bit as good as it looked. The meats were boneless and good cuts, cooked to perfection. The sauces were tangy and bursting with flavor. Vic had ordered hers less spicy than mine, and they got both of our spice heats spot on, so we could both enjoy our meal. Amazingly we both managed to finish our meals. But it was a while before either of us could leave the table as we were both so full.

Would we go again?

This meal went straight into my top 10 of favorite Indian meals ever. Was it worth QR 55 each? Hell yes! Would we go back? Absolutely, and we would be prepared to cross town to do it.

If the Thali is a bit more than you want to pay for a spot of lunch, then there is their ‘Executive Lunchbox’ to consider as well. We noticed one of the other tables enjoying Kababs & Kurries Executive Lunchbox, and that looked well worth a go as well.

Executive Lunchbox Offer
Executive Lunchbox


Having invested in my new 2018 Entertainer App, I was keen start making use of it as soon as possible. So Vic and I popped into The Westin Doha to try out their Thursday night Sea Food Buffet held in their Seasonal Tastes restaurant.

Seasonal Tastes

Now without the Entertainer this would cost QR 200 each (£40 or 54 USD) but with the Entertainer 2 for 1 offer I paid a total of QR 200 for both of us. And trust me that was a complete bargain.

Now I have had a lot of buffets and Friday brunches in Qatar, and this Seafood Buffet at The Westin goes straight to the very top of my top 10 buffets. It was absolutely gorgeous. The King Crab was big and meaty and well… just totally delicious. And that was my starter course/plate sorted.

The Westin Doha Buffet

Not only was the seafood amazing, but so was all the other fair up for grabs. Their roast beef was totally amazing, cooked rare and carved to my requirements (nice and thick for me please) with some lovely rich gravy and vegetables. I could have just kept going back for that time after time.  So that was my second course/plate sorted.

Instead of another plate of that amazing roast beef, I went back to the carvery for roast turkey instead. You know it was the seasonal thing to do. Ohhh man! Succulent and juicy. So that was my third course/plate.

The Westin Doha Buffet Now I was starting to become aware of my fuel gauge, the tank was almost full and I knew I was going to have to slow things down a bit. So next I went for some fresh bread and honey straight from the comb. Simple and full of taste.

The Westin Doha Buffet

Well once I started on sweet, I simply had to stay there. So plates 5 to 10 were all deserts. I missed out on so many other options, and having gone totally nuts on sweets I also ended up missing out on the cheese board. And for that I will not forgive myself, because that was one amazing looking cheese board.

The Westin Doha Buffet

We had an amazing evening. And considering this cost us just QR 100 each, outstanding value. This was our first buffet in the Westin, and we were so impressed we could well be booking our Christmas brunch in here. No vouchers for that in The Entertainer, but I don’t care. Christmas is the most important brunch of the year, and it simply has to be flawless. And I think that the Westin can deliver, so it looks like they are favorite for December 25th at the moment.

Oh and I forgot to mention. The staff were outstanding as was their service. 5 stars out of 5 stars for everything. Not a single complaint.

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.


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.


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.

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

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

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.

The Al Mourjan Restaurant located on the Corniche is quite literally one of the finest Lebanese Restaurants in the world

I’m not an expert on Lebanese food. But I know plenty of people who are, and they all tell me that the Al Mourjan is a world class Lebanese restaurant. And you can tell by all the awards on their reception wall, that experts think so as well. All I know is that I love going to this restaurant. I love their food, I love the setting and I love their award winning service.

We have visited and paid for our breakfast at the SMBC. Our review is first hand informed and independant

I have been going to the Al Mourjan for over 6 years now, and have never written about it. Last Tuesday Victoria and I were there again for what was meant to be a ‘pop in visit’. However as usual we ended up spending a whole evening there.


We are not very adventurous with our menu selection in the Al Mourjan. We know what we like, and we tend to order pretty much the same thing every time. A mixed hot and cold mezza with salad, then I always have the mixed grill, and Vic either joins me with a mixed grill or goes for their spaghetti.


For desert we always have the same thing as well. And I have no idea what it’s called (I told you I wasn’t an expert on Lebanese food). We describe what we want, and we always get the right thing. Whatever it is called (see photo below) it is to die for. And I have to hold myself back from ordering a second one.


The view from the Al Mourjan is absolutely gorgeous. And on Tuesday the weather was perfect. Not too hot, not to cold. And we just completely chilled out sitting on the waterfront admiring the view.


I can also strongly recommend the Al Mourjan as a somewhere to spend Qatar National Day. You get probably the best seat in the country to watch the firework display, and some fabulous food to go with it.

National day 2013 from Al Mourjan Restaurant
One of the best places to watch the Qatar National Day firework display, is the Al Mourjan Restaurant

If you haven’t been already, I strongly recommend the Al Moujan. Take friends and if you have family visiting you simply have to bring them here.