maze DohaParcel 1, Porto Arabia
Tel: +974 495 3876 extension 1431
Business hours: Open seven days a week,
lunch noon-3pm, dinner 6.00pm-1.001pm
Gordon Ramsay’s outpost in the Middle East carefully combines European cuisine with Asian influences.
HI! I am Lady Gasak and I’m an Compulsive Eater. I have a sister, Lady Gasak 2, who is also a Compulsive Eater.
There, I thought I’d get my confession – according to a random diet survey – out of the way so that you’d know exactly what to expect when Ladies G 1 and 2 go out for dinner. We always set out with good intentions, but they usually end up disappearing mid-meal.
On my recent fleeting visit to Doha, without Lord Restrain, Lady Gasak 2 and her obliging husband Lord Sweet Saviour (who wryly tolerates our food and exercise obsessions) took me out to dinner at maze, Gordon Ramsay’s outpost in the Middle East.
Without having experienced any Ramsay restaurants, and with only his myriad cooking shows as reference, I discovered that the maze, located at the prestigious Pearl-Qatar, an exclusive, Riveira-styled enclave, is the antithesis of the man.
All glass and natural light, with subtle middle-eastern accents, the restaurant is unpretentious. With a clear, linear look, the dining area aims at minimalism: simple, sleek furnishing, an open kitchen and lots of space for privacy.
The terrace, with views of the marina, Porto Arabia esplanade and the still-growing city across the West Bay, is ideal for evening drinks in the cooler months.
We began our evening with a bottle of Chilean Rothschild Mapu Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (QAR165/RM143), picked from an extensive wine list.
Indulgence in this city is celebrated, so you can drink and dine. And, at the end of a blazing summer’s day, the white wine was just what we needed – crisp, fruity-licious and light-bodied.
It also went very well with our complimentary freshly-baked bread and olives, served with white bean puree and olive oil. Although we did consider the very tempting Chef’s Tasting Menu (five courses, QAR300/RM260), we decided otherwise. After much deliberation, while the Lord Sweet Saviour studiedly enjoyed the view, the two ladies selected starters and side dishes to share.
Did I mention that we like variety?
The Alaskan King Crab with Granny Smith Apple Salad, Caviar d’Acquitaine and Bloody Mary Sobert (QAR70/RM60) arrived first. Simply presented, the generous crab portion was fresh and flavourful, providing a certain tartness to the palate. It was a fusion of tastes that tickled the tastebuds. Wonderful, so it disappeared quickly.
The Jerusalem Artichoke Arancini Balls, with Truffle Mayonaise (QAR55/RM47) was next, and second to none. Lightly crisp on the outside, the artichoke and rice/risotto balls had a soft consistency that held very well on the inside. Dipping them lightly in the truffle mayonnaise, we lost count of who ate how many. But who was counting, anyway?
Warm and tasty, the deep-fried spheres were made in mini-carb comfort heaven. I looked at Lady Gasak 2, who nodded in agreement. We ordered another portion.
By this time the healthy side dishes, Fine Green Beans in a Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette (QAR35/RM30) and Roasted Chestnut Mushrooms in Garlic and Parsley (QAR35) had been delivered. Braised lightly, the French beans were garden-fresh crunchy and coated in exquisite vinaigrette. The luscious mushrooms, on the other hand, were fat and juicy. Roasted just right, with salt and pepper and a parsley sprinkling, the organic mushroom’s lush character was expertly retained.
The Lord SS’s Roasted Free-Range Chicken with Dry Fruit Spicy Cous Cous, accompanied by Roasted Vegetables and Almond Flakes (QAR195/RM168), came on a wooden board. Declaring it delicious, he invited us to share. Once again, it did not disappoint. The mix of Asian spices on a traditional roast was flawless. The slightly piquant cous cous complemented the well-seasoned, moist chicken.
Although the carrots and other vegetables were a tad too soft, the fusion features of the dish elevated a regular roast to another level.
A meal is never complete without dessert, let me not say! She chose the Maple and Cinnamon Creme Brulee with Pecan Sable (QR60). Being the choco-holic that I am, I went with the Vairhona Chocolate Tart with Mascarpone Ice Cream. Knowing that he’d end up eating the remains of both desserts, the Lord SS declined to order.
A little too dainty the desserts were, I thought. For those prices, you would expect larger servings, but that could just be the imaginings of my sweet tooth. Before I could look up from my chocolate tart, the creme brulee was gone.
“Sorry. It was just too delicious and I loved the cinnamon flavour,” said Lady Gasak 2 without any show of regret. My chocolate desire was the perfect mix, rich bitter chocolate remaining light on the tongue. Meanwhile, the mascarpone ice-cream added the right contrast.
Then the waiter brought us a complimentary sweet to end our meal – sweet Arabian Halwa and nutty biscuits.
Counting calories was not on our menu that night, being contentedly caught in this particular maze.