We recently had the opportunity to take part in a Blind Tasting menu at La Mer, Miss Q&M and I happily arrived for dinner with eager appetites and high expectations. As the restaurant is situated on the 23rd ﬂoor of the Ritz Carlton, the panoramic views of the Doha coast and skyline boasts a romantic atmosphere. Lulled by contemporary ballads played live on piano, its hard not to settle into a dreamy state staring out at the view of the city.
La Mer has acquired a new head chef and a brand new menu we were really looking forward to try. Chef William Khala, from Toronto, personally came out to meet with us and introduce himself, letting us know a little of what he planned for us to enjoy as we were partaking in this daring tasting menu. Pleasantries taken care of, a good bottle of wine was ordered and we excitedly awaited the ﬁrst course.
It started oﬀ with an Amuse-Bouche: duck prosciutto wrapped around compressed pineapple and almond ﬂakes. A very ambitious start to our meal and the pineapple slightly overpowered the delicate ﬂavour of the duck.
Next, we had Buﬀalo Mozzarella with basil compressed watermelon, balsamic pudding, pumpkin seeds and powdered olive oil. Now this was an interesting twist on fruit with cheese. We were told it would taste refreshing and it truly did. The sweetness of the watermelon mingled well with the light, chewy texture of the mozzarella. Powdered olive oil, as strange as it sounds was an astonishing, yet delightful addition to the dish that took it to the next level. It put smiles on our faces as we nodded to each other, silently saying, “Yes. This is what we came for”. Chef William very kindly came out to elaborate on his menu and talk about his choice of fruit and cheese pairings. He gave us some very insightful suggestions on what to try out and we’ll deﬁnitely be trying the watermelon and feta, as suggested.
With our meal, we had a lovely bottle of crisp Bordeaux Signatures Semmillon Sauvinon, elevating the complexities of each dish. Our eyes were shining as the next course was placed in front of us. A gorgeous Fine de Clair oyster, with Osetra Caviar and yuzu foam. Served on a bed of salt snow, it was a feast for the eyes and palate. It was so fresh, as if just plucked out of the ocean, that I was almost sorry to slurp up it’s perfection. The yuzu foam made it zingy and zesty,and the caviar added a slight saltiness that enhanced the ﬂavour of the oyster wonderfully.
Next came Scallops with dukkah, raw cauliflower-couscous, cauliflower yogurt, roasted almonds, hibiscus. This was my favourite dish of the night. The scallops were seared perfectly, yet they still had a charming little bounce to them. And adding dukkah—an Egyptian blend of toasted spices—was brilliant. A bite of the sprightly scallop with the little crunch of the spices is something that I will remember for a long time. Imaginative yet succulent. The dish was accompanied with raw cauliﬂower couscous, cauliﬂower yogurt and roasted almonds. Chef William has really brought to attention the diﬀerent textures in his dishes, especially when combining soft and chewy with light and crunchy. We had such a time of it, dissecting each dish and contemplating the ﬂavours of each component as they uniﬁed in our mouths.
The ﬁfth course was Pan seared Mediterranean Wild Sea bass, served with lemon tabboule, fennel, a tiny sprinkling of ras el hanout and a burnt lemon sauce. This was a dish I actually struggled with at ﬁrst, as I didn’t really ‘get it’ after one bite. But layering the ﬁsh with a little of the burnt lemon and ras el hanout spice brought it together for me. The sauce was what picked the ﬂavour up, and by being bittersweet and jammy it actually made sense to pair it with the ﬁsh. It’s almost hard to explain how, but it showed a lot of daring creativity. The ﬁsh tasted light, but mixed with the sauce and tabboule, it made a surprising yet interesting combination that I can’t say that I didn’t like.
Miss Q&M duly noted the consistency of the last two dishes, both having opposing textures that somehow symbiotically they perfectly came together. Chef William was kind enough to come keep a keen eye on us during the meal and took time to explain how he incorporates his favourite ﬂavours into each dish, with fruity, citrusy elements that was apparent in each course.
We had one meat course, which was Braised Wagyu Beef Shortrib with mini potatoes, pistachio puree, braised pan jus onion, charred leek and crispy kale. It was rich, ambitious and delicious. While I know kale is all the rage among healthy eating, I’ve never had much interest in it. I’d ignorantly assumed that kale chips being used as an alternative to potato chips or crisps was probably a waste of time. But I like being proved wrong where food is concerned, so I was delightfully surprised at how tasty the crispy kale was. I’d wished there were a little bit more to enjoy. The short rib was done sous-vide before the braise and it was so amazingly soft it melted in our mouths. The pistachio puree added a soft richness to the dish leaving us extremely happy.
There was nothing disappointing about dessert either. In fact, despite being quite stuﬀed by that point, everything was consumed with equal gusto. Miss Q&M had The Chocolate World. Caramel parfait, crumble, chocolate pudding, chocolate disc and raspberry coulis. With a generous pour of chocolate sauce. I had Poached Pear with goat cheese pannacotta, hazelnut sponge cake and sweetened yogurt. And yes they were as delectable as they sound. A successful ending.
Service: Remarkable 5 star* service was enjoyed throughout the night. The staff were elegant ,accommodating and well informed of the menu. Meals were served with perfect interval times that let us savor our experience and enjoy it.
Damages : A blind tasting menu is QR 500 per head. We paired it with a bottle of wine that costs QR 250. *A la carte courses are also readily available and any special request are also taken by the chef.
All in all It was an absolutely charming dinner experience that not only lived upto expectations but exceeded it . We walked out with the sweet French tune ‘La Mer’ playing in our heads, utterly satisfied ready to call it a delectable day 🙂
Until next time and another food review.
Bon Appetit x Priscilla Emmanuel