I subscribe to the motto that you start with a bang and end with a bang. I apply it not just to everyday life but also to my meals. Nothing makes me happier at the table than a show-stopping dessert – I’m talking unforgettable flavours, a stroke of artistry on the plate, or a flourish in the presentation. As 2014 winds down and I contemplate ways to close the year in spectacular fashion, I’m also thinking about these meal-enders in Doha that dazzle with wow factor.
Chocolate Five Textures
Al Dana – QR45
(Sharq Village & Spa – 4425 6666 Mon-Sat 6:30p-11p, closed Sunday)
Clever and contemporary. Like brushstrokes on canvas, each element in this landscape of chocolate builds on another to form a beautiful dish. You have rocks and soil, jelly and mousse, all made from varying degrees of milk and dark chocolate. They tingle on the tongue, melt luxuriously, and transport you to cocoa heaven.
The Anvil Rooms – QR45
(Tornado Towers – 4499 0685 daily noon-3p; dinner 5:30p-10p, Fri/Sat 7p-11p)
Island life in the Caribbean is captured with every sip of this drinkable, refreshing dessert. Layers of muscovado jelly, lime yogurt and granita arrive in a cocktail glass and are then drenched in a syrup that the server shakes up when you’re done taking pictures, because it’s so neat you’ll want to capture the process on camera.
Market – QR45
(W Hotel – 4453 5373 daily 6a-11a, noon-11:30p.m; Friday closed 4p-6p)
The classic campfire treat is deconstructed and amped up several notches into a handsome dessert with added theatre. A chocolate ingot is topped with whipped marshmallow then torched tableside for the necessary burnt flavour. Where are the graham crackers, you ask? It’s all in the accompanying ice cream, of course.
Hakkasan – QR55
(The St. Regis Doha – 4446 0710 Dinner Daily 7p-midnight; bar 6p-1a; Lunch Friday noon-3p)
A cracking dessert served in a tantalising terrarium. Chocolate cardamom sauce is poured through the holes of a chocolate disc into this glass jar with Oreo crumble, mandarin marshmallow, chocolate crunch balls, blood orange sorbet and popping candy. Each mouthful turns into a bit of an adventure that is glorious in every way.
Prime – QR60
(InterContinental Doha The City – 4015 8888 daily 6p-11p)
What is it about a live fire that creates drama? The crêpes are brought over on a portable stove and gently stewed in orange juice ala Suzette. Towards the end, Grand Marnier is added and ignited, creating a few seconds of hypnotic flames. Somewhere between sweet and tart is this simple yet timelessly elegant dessert.
Chac’Late – QR65
(Building 15, Katara – 4408 0733 Sun-Wed 8a-10p, Thurs-Sat 8a-midnight)
A mini cauldron of thick, melted chocolate. Do I have to continue? The first time I ordered this, I accidentally knocked over the precious liquid. But it created such a glorious effect that I now eat the fondue this way… rolling the sticks of waffle pastry, marshmallow and fruit around the chocolate pool to evenly coat each carrier piece.
Thai Tea Meringue
Spice Market – QR45
(W Doha Hotel & Residences – 4453 5135 daily noon-4p; 5:30p-11:30p)
Meringue shells made of brown sugar. Macerated fresh berries with mint and vanilla. Thai tea flavoured ice cream. The textures interweave, the sweetness blend into each other, and these three seemingly uncomplicated components converge into a stunning piece of edible wonder… ingeniously conceived and executed.
Cigar Cohiba Cheesecake
Astor Grill – QR50
(St. Regis Doha – 4446 0211 Sun-Fri 7p-midnight, closed Saturday)
Talk about trompe l’oeil. The art technique to fool the eye is playfully employed in this crowd pleaser. The cheesecake is coated in chocolate in the shape of a cigar while tinted powdered sugar provides the illusion of ash. Don’t forget to light up with the dainty matchsticks, made of buttery shortbread. In a word: masterpiece.