Friday brunch at Secret Garden

A quiet evening with excellent food served to your table in an exclusive setting Discuss this article

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This garden location feels truly mired in secrecy. To get there, we have to walk through a long, dark and rather intriguing corridor, which has quirky, illusory paintings on the walls – don’t miss our favourite, a part-liquefied Salvador Dalí, close to the lifts. We then have to get into the lift – which has just two buttons, ours being to R/Illusion. We’re eventually delivered to a central foyer on the top floor.

We’re greeted by multiple doors – each leading to a different bit of this nightclub/lounge. We walk through the door that reads Secret Garden and it’s a hidden away oasis of calm and wonder.

There aren’t many people in, and we’re not surprised – it is, after all, an after-dark Friday brunch, the likes of which clearly haven’t quite caught on yet. But for us, this late brunch is perfect. The glow of dusk is otherworldly and the flowers that surround us enhance the setting and the experience.

The brunch menu is set – staff bring everything to your table – but unfortunately, you don’t get to have unlimited quantities of anything.

We start with a selection of small appetisers. The potato croquettes are perfectly crunchy on the outside, with a soft and cheesy centre, just how they should be. We also have a tangy crab and avocado salad, seafood arancini (we wish they had more flavour) and a delightful assortment of some of the tastiest pizzas we’ve had in a while (that mushroom truffle is famous for good reason).

By the time we’re ready for the second course, we see a dramatic change in ambience. The sun has set, the lamps are turned on and suddenly the whole place feels exclusive, and romantic.

But the porcini mushroom risotto is worth the entry alone – perfectly cooked, beautifully creamy and packed with the best-quality mushrooms. It’s an absolute showstopper. It comes with drops of melted cheddar cheese poured over it, giving it extra points (yes, we’re big on cheese).

We dig in to the parmigiana next and we’re not ashamed to admit that we’ve been dreaming about those brilliant burned edges ever since. The aubergine has taken on a slightly sweet note, meaning it cuts wonderfully through the bitterness from those charred edges. We finish this second course with a palate cleanser – the cutest little frozen lime with a lemon and lime sorbet inside.

Third course is made up of veal cheeks, which are unbelievably fall-off-the-bone tender and loaded with flavour. It’s this dish that makes us really miss that unlimited aspect of brunch. The other plate in this course comes with six lamb chops, one of which is a little tough, all of which aren’t seasoned well enough. But the potato puree, with its citrussy flavour, thankfully takes care of this. Despite how it may sound, the food at this offering is all really light. And it comes in small portions, so we don’t walk out feeling like we actually need to be rolled.

It starts to get quite chilly up on this rooftop and we really hope some warm dessert will follow. We get ice-cream, fresh exotic fruits and tiny cookies (slightly disappointing, but the ice cream is delicious).
This isn’t an all-out brunch. It’s simple, tasty and a bit of a weekend treat, which is exactly what we need, now and again.
QR275 (soft drinks), QR375 (selected beverages). Fri 5pm-8pm. Illusion, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar (4035 5757).

The bottom line
Tasty late brunch in cool rooftop setting.

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

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