Mandarin Oriental, Doha is an absolutely stunning property, artfully designed, effusing the highest level of luxury and those standards are reflected in their dining hospitality. From the moment FACT’s Criag Ferriman walked into IZU, it was apparent that the hotel has sourced highly experienced staff to offer quality food and service.
I f you know your history of the city then you’ll know that in the not too distant past, the heart of old Doha was Msheireb. That all changed when West Bay sprouted up and Doha got a new centre of gravity but city planners have sought to breathe new life into the old soul of the capital and IZU sits at the beating heart of it. The brainchild of celebrity chef Izu Ani, the aptly-named IZU occupies two floors but dinner is on the mezzanine with what has been described as the best view in the hotel, looking out at the glorious courtyard. I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t in downtown Beirut but downtown Doha.
As a personal disclaimer, French cuisine is my favourite but I was blown away by the food here. I started with the tuna carpaccio from the raw section of the menu which was perfectly plated on a citrusy bed with a vinaigrette dressing which made the mouth water. The grilled marinated prawns in garlic and rosemary on sour bread was a superb starter. The prawns were huge, and the sauce didn’t hold back, whilst the bread is noteworthy for just how fresh and soft it is. All their bread is made in-house; they are proud of that and they should be. Their signature appetiser really was the thing to go for because you won’t get it elsewhere. It’s fried organic eggs and foie gras on bread with a devilishly dripping truffle sauce. The French don’t get prizes for the healthiest eating but, my goodness, what a treat this proved!
For an entrée, I opted for the slow braised beef short ribs with padron pepper. The meat just tore apart effortlessly and tasted heavenly. This was their showpiece meal but the portion size was generous unlike so many fine dining eateries that leave you starving.
The menu has a decent range of choices but it’s not exhaustive and I was told that this is intentional. Rather than cook a lot of things quite well, their chef prefers to cook a few things very well. For example, their a-la-carte menu only has half a dozen desserts to choose between but they are proud of all of them not least the brioche French Toast with vanilla ice cream which is a winner at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I retired to the courtyard which is a semi enclosed, temperature regulated space that can alter the underground vents to make it hotter when cold, and cooler when hot. The passionfruit cheese cake I chose was outstanding. The biscuit base was very thin so the crunch was still detectable but not overwhelming, the cream was fresh and rich in taste and the passionfruit top gave it the unique twist on an ageold classic sweet. We got there early so got to witness their exceptional bar snacks and carefully curated cocktails. IZU has raised the standards for dining in Doha to new heights and helped put Msheireb back on the map again all at the same time. ✤
GO: CALL 4008 8888 FOR RESERVATIONS AND VISIT WWW.MANDARINORIENTAL.COM/DOHA FOR MORE INFORMATION.