Saturday Spanish brunch at El Faro

This feast of tapas and paella is the definition of lazy brunching Discuss this article

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Stepping inside El Faro is transporting. It’s no wonder, really. Its bare brick walls are covered in brightly hued graffiti inspired by the notable Spanish artist Picasso, whose work was a kaleidoscope of cubism, which paved the way for abstract art. Along with the little island bars (one exclusively for grape), his work goes a long way towards creating an atmosphere that embodies the spirit of eclectic and artistic Spanish cities like Barcelona.

Outside, things get no less Mediterranean, where the small terrace looks out over a canal of water fringed with palm trees and, just beyond, the turquoise waters of the Gulf glisten. So, when we heard that El Faro was launching a new tapas brunch, the idea of a lazy afternoon spent sipping fruity beverages, while nibbling slices of manchego cheese sounded positively dreamy.

Initially, when we arrive, we’re a little disappointed. The atmosphere is flat and, bar one other couple, we appear to be the only brunch-goers. Still, the terrace is small, so once seated we actually appreciate the empty tables around us. The tranquil atmosphere makes a nice change from the raucous brunches so common in the city.

This is an à la carte experience and you can order unlimited tapas from the menu (of which there is a choice of sixteen), followed by the chef’s choice of paella and finished with a little platter of desserts.

We’re seen to immediately. Almost as soon as we sit down our drinks orders are taken and the effusive staff are offering to bring us a selection of the best-selling tapas. The eggplant tempura is a highlight – huge, round, thinly-sliced discs covered in perfectly golden, crispy breadcrumbs with a side of honey to drizzle over the top. We’re also impressed by the albondigas (meatballs in Spanish sauce) which are tender and juicy. The flavours in the patatas a la riojana really shine – spicy and rich – though it is disappointingly light on the beef chorizo. Over the course of the brunch we also devour several of the sizeable cold cut and cheese plates.

We are less enthralled by the traditional beef stew which has been made with fatty meat and the seafood salad that arrives is a little limp, but these are the only two dishes that really disappoint.

Almost all of the tapas that forms part of this brunch is also included on the restaurant’s à la carte menu, so at QR380 with beverages, this brunch does offer pretty good value for money. Especially when you factor in the paella (there’s a choice of chicken or seafood on our visit) which is well-cooked and moist.
On the whole, food is simple, so you shouldn’t expect an overly-creative selection, but the majority of it is very good, and the setting even better.

Music plays softly through speakers throughout the afternoon, though this is perhaps the one area where El Faro trips up: it’s all ambient but a bit samey (we feel they could get a little more creative than Volare). This is broken up, however, with more authentic live entertainment from a guitarist singing soft Spanish ballads and a solo flamenco dancer.

From start to finish the whole event is as laid-back as we had hoped. By the end of the afternoon a few more guests have trickled in, and though this brunch no doubt needs a few weeks to come into its own, we predict that even at full capacity it will remain as relaxing. Just as a tapas meal should be.
QR240 (soft drinks), QR380 (selected beverages). Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm. Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar (4035 5011).

The bottom line
Simple, enjoyable food in a setting that can be either eclectic or idyllic, depending on your mood.

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

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