An old favourite reinvents itself and reopens its doors... Reviews

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It’s been a difficult year for the Garvey brothers who run this Doha stalwart, a previously back to basics members-only pub and leisure club which was renowned for good food, live music and the fastest bar service in the Gulf. Many loved it for its lively, unstuffy atmosphere (a refreshing change from five-star hotels), others preferred their surroundings a bit plusher.

It was shut down by the police last New Year’s Eve. Despite the Doha rumour mill going into overdrive, no one’s entirely sure why, but they’ve finally reopened – minus the booze. No longer a private club they’ve reinvented themselves as a café and leisure and fitness venue.

It takes quite a leap of the imagination to picture Garvey’s without the beer – it’s like Fred without Ginger or Hummus without flatbread . . . but it can be done. The large conservatory overlooking the pool is now a very bright and comfortable café with sofas, flatscreen TVs for news and sports buffs and a good supply of newspapers and magazines. In the interests of research, Time Out went for breakfast and (a few days later, mind, we’re not that greedy) dinner.

For our midweek breakfast we had a sausage and egg roll. Now, sausages are tricky in Qatar; due to the obvious lack of pork they can be very hit and miss – too dry, too bland, too weird. But, Garvey’s have found a good ’un and it was very tasty. Our egg was a bit too sunny side up – as a Scot, I insist on all my food being suitably overcooked. But the obliging Chris Garvey got it flipped over again and it came back just the way I like it. And the tea... a word of praise for a decent pot of tea, where you don’t have to specify cold fresh milk on the side.

The menu has a good range. Brace yourself for ‘The Full Monty’ with, wait for it: bacon, sausage, steak, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, bread and butter, juice and tea or coffee. Or take it easy with scrambled egg, toast with or without smoked salmon, an omelette or various filled rolls. Just a suggestion, but croissants and Danish pastries would go down well with the ladies.

We returned for dinner on a Thursday night with some friends and as we pulled into a largely deserted car park, and then walked into a virtually empty Garvey’s (save for one family), we felt a bit sad and longed for the lively good old days.

But, then, after one mouthful of fish and chips, we all felt much better. Time Out should have steered everyone towards eating different meals, but fish and chips it had to be – apart from one offal-addict, who had the special: chicken livers, spinach and mash. The food really is very good pub food – the chips were real, home made and chunky, the fish was fresh and in a light and super-crispy batter and the mushy peas were just right.

The offal eater said the livers were tender and delicious and he doubted he could get that kind of meal anywhere else in Doha. Chris Garvey (does this man never get a day off?) talked us into a Banana Toffee Crumble with ice cream for afters, and we weren’t disappointed.

It did look pretty, with tables set up by the pool, under a canopy of twinkly lights, but how viable is it without the beer? The consensus at our table was that the quality of the food wins out and there’s no reason why Garvey’s couldn’t join the likes of Thai Snacks and Turkey Central as a cheap and cheerful, alcohol-free popular café. The sort of place you can take the kids early doors – and unlike the other two, Garvey’s has a playground and a swimming pool, which anyone visiting the café is entitled to use.

On Fridays you can get a full roast dinner with all the trimmings. And if you overdose on the Yorkshire pudding, they’ve also got a gym and a new yoga studio . . .

The bill (for two)

Two courses with soft drinks
Total (inc charges) QR126

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.


  • Location: Aziziyah, Doha
  • Tel: 4458 2466
  • Travel: Off Al Zizya Street

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User reviews:

Posted by: firas on 28 Mar ' 13 at 19:55

Maze was owned by Gordon Ramsay, not Garveys
Gordon has 2 restaurants in St. Regis Hotel.

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