I had been meaning to try this place for a long time now since I heard about it a few months ago. Organic food and the farm-to-table concept is something really close to my heart. Living in Qatar, the organic trend is something new and coming up only recently. Until now it was just a corner in the hypermarkets with pricey imports from the US / Europe. I would at every visit spend a good amount of time in that section, especially since I had kids and was feeling more and more conscious as to what I am cooking for my family. Even then, I always wished that such food was locally sourced and fresh. Thankfully, I am fortunate enough to have some access to such as my parents were always into maintaining a home garden and even rearing chickens in the backyard. Nothing beats the joy of harvesting fresh produce from your garden or collecting the small fresh eggs from your own chickens fed from your kitchen and without any nasty hormones or antibiotics. I must say, I have had this concept of healthy living ingrained in me since childhood, thanks to my parents.
Anyways coming back to the restaurant. Chef’s garden as the name suggests – they grow many of their ingredients right there and also source from Al-Safwa farm, a relatively new organic certified farming venture. Sounds great to me! I had the pleasure of visiting this place this week for dinner. Tucked away in the education city, not many people seem to know about it. Its next to Al-Shaqab at the Marwan Club, a trendy, airy and spacious place. I was expecting a more green, or even a rustic theme but nevertheless it was warm and welcoming. Thanks to the hot and humid weather of Doha, the outdoor area wasn’t open. I am sure that would have been more appealing had the weather permitted.
So we arrived for a late-ish dinner at around 8:30 pm which I discovered is a big mistake since this place closes early, to say 10 pm but they start winding up soon after 9 pm. With two kids in tow, we always need ample time to tackle dinner and all the tantrums that come with it and also be able to enjoy the food ourselves. What I experienced was that the service suffered greatly as it was nearing closing time. Our orders were messed up 2-3 times. A few of the options were unavialable which was confirmed after placing the order so we had to change it. I felt one or two of the dishes were served hurriedly and didn’t match the description on menu and also we had to finalize the bill and everything while eating so that they could wind up sooner. Not very nice, when you are also parenting a 3 year old and a toddler. My biggest tip to anybody visiting this place would be to please go early.
Regarding the food, what I must say is in spite of the not-very-good mood due to the situation, I still liked the food for the most part. Most of the dishes were above average with a few misses.
For starters we had Asparagus soup (a little too creamy) and Brittany Artichoke (artichoke hearts stuffed with seasonal vegetables) Both of them were quite good, nothing outstanding.
For the main course, we ordered 3 which was not a bad choice since the portions were moderate I felt and we could take away the rest.
I had the grilled hammour which was very very good – accompanied by spinach / kale , sweet pumpkin puree and (the menu said) lemon butter sauce but the waiter informed me it was seasoned with the sauce and that it’s not served alongside. I wish it was, since I always enjoy grilled fish with the tangy sauce – it would have been perfect.
Meanwhile, the mister had roast rack of lamb with mashed potatoes which failed to impress as it was not very well balanced and the mash tasted so milky and bland.
The third dish was seafood pasta which was another excellent option. Loved the creamy tangy sauce with the spaghetti and the delicious sea food!
All this while, between the spoon banging and the constant fork dropping, the kids always want to taste from our plate even when we ordered from the kid’s menu for them. Initially we went for two options but in the rush of things, only one order was taken and the Turkey Wrap was served for my daughter. It was quite a generous portion for the price and she seemed to quite like it. I must say the place is quite kid friendly with an elaborate menu for kids, the colorful ikea kids cutlery and play areas, even an indoor one which closes well before 10, so again you better make an early visit.
Lastly, the dessert! I loved their cheesecake and beetroot & chocolate cake. Both of them were truly decadent. But one thing amiss was that both were served a mixed berry compote. Although it went well with both, it wasn’t as described in the menu. Nevertheless, the sweet tooth satisfied and sharp at 10pm we left the place.
I would definitely give this place one more chance, as the concept is great and the food is above average. Service can be better, the staff seem a bit untrained and even if delayed I strongly feel service at any restaurant should not suffer to this extent. Next time, early arrival and an outdoor setting in the upcoming pleasant weather would be great inshaAllah! Lets see how they fare then.