If a steakhouse serves more et cetera than steak, does it still qualify to be called such? That’s the sort of philosophical quandary I find myself in as I absorb the new menu at Prime, the signature restaurant at InterContinental Doha the City.
I suppose the question is unfair, given that Prime officially markets itself as a destination for those “passionate about meat.” That helps to explain why one is able to order the likes of foie gras, rack of lamb, beef carpaccio, and sea bass here. But when you enter the dining room of deep, wooden hues and pass by the display of French, British and Japanese steak knives, you can’t help but get the impression that this place means beef-ness.
Steak lovers have a choice of essentially four cuts: tenderloin, rib-eye, striploin and T-bone. And of those, USDA Prime, Australian Kobe or Australian Wagyu. My companions and I order two varieties of rib-eye… they arrive glistening, and they cut with ease. The rich marbling ensures an almost buttery texture and mountains of flavour. Although the steaks are cooked a shade pinker than what I expect for medium rare, they remain tender and beautifully seasoned.
I’m at Prime specifically because a truffle menu is being featured all month. It’s an indulgent little habit. After all, the spores have rightfully earned the glamorous moniker of ‘black diamonds’ with an average price tag of $1,200 per pound. But there is something sumptuous about a truffle’s earthy perfume that can transform a dish from run-of-the-mill to out-of-the-ballpark.
So imagine my surprise when the server slices off three, generous hunks of black truffle onto my roasted celeriac soup. More accustomed to paper-thin shavings than to such largesse, I grin widely and dive into the potage. It turns out to be the highlight of the evening. The pureed, caramelised celeriac is smooth, sweet and quite delicious; add truffles, and the rest is history.
Truffle also makes it onto the dessert menu but with checkered success. Case in point is the powdery, bitter truffle fudge cake. Not a fan. Yet the truffle ice cream, so delicately scented and silky on the tongue, is pure delight.
A lot has changed in the one year since Prime opened. The service has got a lot smarter – still as warm, no longer as overzealous, but mostly just sharper. Our server came to ask if there was a desire to switch from white to red wine for the meat course. That observation didn’t go unnoticed.
The menu has similarly tamed down, and, in the process, become more sophisticated. Gone are the raw oysters in fluorescent blue liquid of 2012. Instead, vegetable sorbets such as beetroot and carrot emerge in between dishes to cleanse one’s palate.
The erroneously named side dishes remain a cornerstone of Prime. They are all around marvelous. I could have an entire meal composed of the spiced cream corn, blue cheese mash and salad with roasted peppers. Oh, and a scoop of truffle ice cream to end. Well, maybe three.
Prime – InterContinental Doha the City
Tel: +974 4015 8888
Other Mains: QR130-QR350