Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Ladies who lunch at maze by Gordon Ramsay



I've been meaning to post this for some time now, but was caught out by my recent trip which had me packing light ie no laptop ergo no posts.

As you can tell, I belong to the worker ant class, thus on the rare occassions that arise, I'll leap at the chance to do the 'ladies who lunch' thingamabob.  Having a day to kill with nothing more taxing than packing to fly back to KL, my friend Y and I decided we'll do our ladies of leisure impersonation and indulge in a long leisurely lunch, scattered with alcohol-fuelled sparkling conversation and observations ;p 

So off to Maze we went.  The restaurant is under the Gordon Ramsay brand and located at the swanky area of Pearl-Qatar, specifically at Porto Arabica. It boasts of an European-Asian influenced menu (hah! must mean fusion) and has fantastic views of the West Bay from the open terrace.  Although it was too hot to dine alfresco, there were a couple of diners working on their tans and lunch - and probably frying their brains too!

They only offer a set menu at lunch, so that took away difficult decisions - useful for ladies who lunch.
The menu stayed quite true to its claims of Asian influence - it included at most 1 Asian ingredient which played a mainly supporting role.  I gathered that the menu gets refreshed frequently.


 My plan was to go for the non-familiar and be more adventurous with selections.  I started off with the compressed watermelon, feta cheese mousse, walnut rocket salad with black sesame dressing, while Y had the seared tuna nicoise salad, olive powder, confit potato and kenya beans.  To me, watermelon and feta is an odd-sounding combination - a juicy wet fruit and salty cheese?  I must say after tasting this, I was won over.  The watermelon was very chilled, and its icy sweetness complemented the feta cheese mousse for a very refreshing summery salad.  The rocket salad  was lightly dressed in olive oil sprinkled with black sesame seeds (the Asian touch), and clearly was in a supporting role.  There was no mistaking the watermelon-cum-feta as the main stars of the dish.  Y was very happy with her selection and you can see how pretty it looked.


clockwise from top - watermelon and feta salad, seared tuna nicoise salad, pan-fried snapper, beetroot and goat cheese risotto

For mains, it was beetroot and goat cheese risotto, zaatar, roasted pine nuts and parsley crisp.  Clearly, beetroot risotto was something different.  Y chose to go for the pan-fried snapper, chickpea fries, tomato butter sauce and crushed peas.  The risotto came in all its violent purple glory, topped with crumbled goat's cheese.   Not a dish for the faint-hearted, the risotto had the sweetness from the beetroot cut by the faintly redolent cheese.  If parmesan puts you into a coma, forget about goat cheese.  I absolutely loved this dish for its flavours, and the zaatar added just a little spice to zing up the risotto.  Just a little.  The snapper was a nice safe choice, with the fish still juicy and sweet.  The chickpea fries was mashed chickpeas shaped into fingers and fried.  The crushed peas were more like mushy peas, but full of taste and sweetness.  A healthier variation to fish and chips, perhaps??

clockwise from top left - nougat glacee with raspberry sorbet, macaroon with creme chiboust, apple compote & apple sorbet, hummus & olives, turkish delight & chocolate chip cookies

I'd had enough of cheese by then, so that effectively removed the cheese platter choice from desserts.  I went along with the nougat glacee, lemon frangipane and raspberry sorbet.  Y chose the macaroon, creme chiboust, apple compote and apple sorbet.  We couldn't figure out where the Asian was in the desserts, but at that point we were beyond caring and just anticipating the goodies.  And boy, did they live up to expectations!  I have no idea what a glacee is, and  I would describe it as an ice-cream of sorts on a bed of frangipane.  The flavours were more or less from the same family ie berries and not too contrasting.  Y thought the macaroons were fine and again the flavours were kept very much together with apples as the theme.

Even though we declared ourselves stuffed to the ears by then, we still found some space for the complimentary turkish delight and chocolate chip cookies - which was a nice touch to end the meal.  Bread, hummus and olives were also complimentary at the start. 

All in all, we declared lunch a huge success - good times, great tastes, even better company!  Service while not overly friendly, was courteous and efficient.  Yes, it's rather pricey at QR140 per person without drinks, but the food, its quality and ambience all serve to make this a worthwhile treat on occasions.

Address:
the maze by Gordon Ramsay
Porto Arabica at Pearl-Doha

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