The Thanksgiving table is one of the most easily distinguishable set-ups in the culinary world: a golden roast turkey surrounded by a garland of dishes celebrating the autumnal harvest of North America. At its heart, the meal is one of nostalgia and comforting simplicity, which helps to explain why its flavours appeal so. These dishes from Doha’s dining scene never fail to remind me of Thanksgiving no matter the time of year.
Smoked Turkey Platter
Ric’s Kountry Kitchen – QR65
(Ras Abu Aboud Street – 4443 7846 daily 6a-10p)
Remarkably, this is the only restaurant here that perennially serves a roast turkey meal. The carved meat, drenched in either gravy or barbecue sauce, is so generously portioned it’s ample for two people to have a healthy tuck-in. Never mind the melamine tableware – the experience is diner Americana through and through.
It’s not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. You can find it almost anywhere these days, and in rather delicious iterations: garlic, truffle, herbed. My favourite is the Irish-style Colcannon mash incorporating cabbage for texture. New York Steakhouse adds leeks as well, resulting in a wonderfully fragrant, utterly desirable mash.
Astor Grill – QR50
(St. Regis Doha – 4446 0211 Sun-Fri 7p-midnight, closed Sat)
The pumpkin is a squash with an identity crisis… a fruit often treated like a vegetable. But there’s no confusion with the sheer elegance of the pumpkin soup at Astor Grill. A velouté base with pureed pumpkins and cinnamon infused milk, the dish comes together with a whisper of truffle and a side of gingery pain d’epice.
Sauté Green Beans
Prime – QR35
(InterContinental Doha The City – 4015 8888 daily 6p-11p)
Often humble and timid, green beans are exalted at Thanksgiving. From an aesthetic point of view, they provide radiance to an otherwise monochromatic spread of browns. The haricot vert at Prime are cooked to that ideal stage where they have turned tender but still hold some crunch, and their exteriors are glowing with green.
Turkey & Brie Baguette
Jones the Grocer – QR35
(The Gate Mall – 4407 7175 daily 8a-11p)
Taking on the classic combination of turkey and cranberry, this sandwich is the more sophisticated cousin of a typical leftover Thanksgiving meal. At home, I’d just pile on slices of turkey with cranberry chutney for lunch the next day. But at Jones, Brie cheese, arugula and a crusty baguette turn the sandwich into quite posh nosh.
JW’s Steakhouse – QR45
(Doha Marriott Hotel – 4429 8499 daily 6:30p-11:30p)
It’s as American as apple pie for a reason. So expect it on this holiday of feasting. A traditional pie in North America uses shortcrust, characterised by a dry flakiness. But the version at JW’s introduces eggs into the pastry, turning it tender and crumbly. Both are wonderful capsules for the sweet reward of cooked apples inside.
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie
Allison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar – QR12
(The Pearl Qatar – 4495 3876 ext. 1311 daily 8a-midnight, 1a.m. on weekends)
Ahh… cranberries. Don’t be surprised to find them in sauces, chutneys, muffins and cakes around the holiday season. The tart fruit is rarely seen the rest of the year, except in its dried form. The Chocolate Bar features it in an oatmeal cookie that’s soft, chewy, and served warm… plus, one might argue, with high nutritional value.
The Anvil Rooms – QR55
(Tornado Towers – 4499 0685 daily noon-3p; dinner 5:30p-10p, Fri/Sat 7p-11p)
The triumvirate of Thanksgiving pies: apple, pumpkin and pecan. I always save room for the last, also the most decadent of them all. At The Anvil Rooms, the pecans are piled high in a sweet, full-bodied filling… nestled on a layer of caramel spread across a thin, crisp crust. This is one pie that gives me plenty to be thankful for.