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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

Qatar Living, a website that has just turned 10 years old was kind enough to invite me to their Birthday Party. Since their takeover a few years back I have beenQL Birthday Cake exceedingly critical of them. Using statements like “I will never forgive them for killing the QL forums” and verbally bashing any QL representatives I have come across with the same

So what has changed you may ask? Well quite a bit actually. On Thursday evening at their Birthday Gala Dinner, I was able to meet some key people that have helped me soften my stance. Firstly I was able to meet some fellow QLer’s from years back, and secondly I was able to talk to key QL staff that to date had managed to avoid my wrath. Of course I got on my soap box and started preaching how I felt about the changes in QL. Once again QL staff had to stand there and smile while I attacked them with all guns blazing, and once again my rants were excessively long and repetitive. Because I am so passionate about this great institution that is ‘Qatar Living’ I couldn’t help myself.

My views have always been one sided and not entirely well informed, and by talking to my old QL buddies I was able to realise that no matter how much ranting I did, no matter how much change I managed to beat QL into making, the QL forums could never go back to how they were because of how much has changed since then. What with Facebook, Twitter and the likes, the need for QL’s forums has somewhat diminished. You see QL’s forums were at their highest use before other social media had become established here in Qatar. And thus the QL forums use, even if the changes on the website had never taken place, would have receded considerably anyway. There are plenty of other places where people can chat, exchange views and share experiences other than QL now.

Something else that helped change my views about the new QL was the recognition given to the old QL community that had helped grow QL to where it is today. We got a few mentions during the presentations on stage, and QL staff were at all times acknowledging of the fact that community was still important and a core value of QL. Through various conversations it became apparent to me that while QL staff had been distracted for a while building the revenue making aspects of the business, they were now very interested in growing the community aspects again. And on more than one occasion I was told changes were coming to the forums.

Ok so QL Forums can never go back to where they were, but QL is still the number one source of information for people looking to come here to Qatar, and to people that have recently arrived and need questions answering. I myself have benefited from the forums on numerous occasions. You see in this day and age you can search for virtually any information on the internet, but it’s always far more reassuring to have someone you are chatting to online confirm that information for you. You can research medical information online, but you won’t be happy until a doctor confirms or refutes your research. In the same way when you ask a question on QL you are reassured when someone who has been here a long time and knows how things work gives you the information you are so desperately seeking. Not just reading text that could be years old, but interacting and clarifying with someone who can help you with up to date and focused information.

I have been absent from QL for quite some time now, and I take my hat off in recognition to the QLer’s who have stayed and continued to answer questions on Visas and NOC issues along with a myriad of other subjects. And I feel a little guilty about running away and not staying to help. Especially when I have so much to be grateful to QL for myself.

And now it would seem that QL are starting to look at developing the community aspect of the site again. And as a result I am starting to get a little excited about the possibilities. I’m hoping to have a meeting with QL soon to hear what their plans are, and to offer my help where it is needed. And I hope some of the other old QLers start to come out of the woodwork and get a little involved as well.

I’m looking forward to a bright new future for the QL community forums.