Aroma

One of the newest additions to Doha’s dining scene turns out to be one of its best. We follow our noses to European brasserie Aroma Discuss this article

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Kempinski has arrived in Doha. One of the tallest towers in the city, it can easily be spotted across the West Bay skyline, with its 62 floors and 370 suites. Ensconced within the Kempinski is Aroma, a fine dining European brasserie to which entry is gained through a revolving mirrored door, giving the impression you are entering a secret inner sanctum.

The restaurant itself has a modern décor, lots of clean lines and a mahogany-panelled open kitchen, so diners can watch chefs conspiring to create dishes to tempt their taste buds. Tables are dimly lit by small, glass, square tealights and white roses, resting in water on a bed of white pebbles. Barely audible are the strains of a piano creating a calming and relaxing ambiance. Stylish and sophisticated, the crisp white tablecloths and cream leather chairs reinforce the expectation that this might prove to be a culinary journey of a somewhat refined nature.

The menu is succinct, a page of appetisers followed by a page of entrées. Restaurant staff are genial and incredibly knowledgeable, offering to aid our selection and able to describe each dish in detail and provide recommendations. Occasionally the attention interrupted our conversation as they ensured we were content. This might be because it was quiet the night we dined and, as a newly opened establishment, the staff may be brimming with an unbridled enthusiasm to please.

A variety of warm breads can be selected from a basket, with choices including ciabatta or focaccia with olives. The bread comes with four delicious accompaniments of salted butter, olive butter, olive oil with balsamic vinegar and a simply divine pesto dip with roasted peppers. To start, I selected the hot wild smoked salmon, but was equally tempted by the foie gras au torchon. My dining partner favoured the pan-seared scallops on a bed of roasted nut risotto. A modest but well-considered wine list is available. We selected a bottle of Chianti, which was light and fruity.

My wild smoked salmon was accompanied by hard-boiled quail eggs crowned with caviar and tiny cherry tomatoes. The salmon was rosy pink, delicate and moist, just as it should be. It was delicious and flavourful. The scallops deserved equal praise. Perfectly seared, they rested atop a rich, creamy risotto, making for an exquisite combination of taste and texture. The risotto was perfectly cooked, the slight nuttiness of the texture further enhanced by the inclusion of chewy roasted nuts.

Main courses range from seafood dishes such as hammour or pot au feu of seafood, to corn-fed chicken, or for meat lovers, Angus fillet or lamb niçoise. There’s enough choice to placate the fussiest of palates.

Expectations had been raised given the excellence of the appetisers, and we were not disappointed when our main courses arrived. My lamb niçoise was flawlessly presented as three cutlets luxuriating on a bed of green beans and fennel. Pink, succulent and juicy, the lamb dissolved in my mouth, enhanced by the fennel flavours it had absorbed. The taste sensation was completed by an accompanying side pot of perfect, creamy potato dauphinoise, rich with garlic and melted parmesan cheese. My partner’s pan-roasted Australian Angus fillet had also been carefully and lovingly prepared, the attention to detail clearly evident. The tender beef was topped with a delicate yet tangy horseradish confit, resting on a crisp potato cake edged with roasted shallots, al dente green beans and mushrooms. The meat was well-portioned, juicy and cooked exactly to order, and the potato cake was moist and flavoured with the juices of the tender fillet.

It can be hard to resist desserts, so it was a pleasant surprise to see a cheese board grace the menu. Nonetheless, I was eager to try the Valrhona chocolate mille feuille, while my dining partner selected the assiette of strawberries. The mille feuille was fashioned completely from chocolate, filled with a rich chocolate cream. Die-hard chocolate fan that I am, even I was defeated by its richness. Perhaps this is one that should have been shared. The accompanying cardamom ice cream was an innovative and unusual flavour, although I was unsure if it worked alongside the chocolate mille feuille.

The assiette of strawberries consisted of five bite-sized desserts; a jelly, strawberries and ice cream, a sorbet, a mousse and a strawberry-flavoured cream. The jelly was a quirky addition to this sampler platter, but the multifaceted pud proved to be an entertaining palate cleanser and light enough to indulge in without making you feel too full.

Aroma is a welcome addition to the restaurant scene in Qatar. The standard of food here is consistently high. Dishes are pricey, but worth every riyal, as there is a feeling that each is prepared with a labour of love. With such high standards, it looks set to become a leading dining destination in Doha.

The bill (for two)
1x Chianti QR250
1x Evian QR35
1x scallops QR80
1x salmon QR80
1x Angus fillet QR220
1x lamb QR180
1x assiette of strawberries QR55
1x chocolate mille feuille QR55
2x cappuccinos QR70
Total (incl charges) QR1,025

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.

Details

  • Location: Kempinski Residences & Suites, West Bay, Doha
  • Tel: 4405 3325
  • Travel: Diplomatic street
  • Website | Send mail

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