Zaatar W Zeit
We head down to Souk Waqif for some Lebanese food and people-watching Discuss this article
- Picture 1 of 2
The sun is shining, the breeze is warm, and there’s never a better time to loiter around the souks like delinquent teenagers in a mall. So, one warm Friday afternoon, my dining companion and I brave the busy parking lot and score an outdoor table at Zaatar W Zeit. An unpretentious place, it’s got simple souk style aplenty: large, picnic-style tables, big parasols, and a prime people-watching location.
The staff certainly make lingering a requirement: they seem surprised by our presence, and even more surprised when we actually want to order something. There’s some confusing hand waving when they bring us the wrong drinks, and even more when not one, not two, but three different waiters all seem to have some sort of black-hole memory tic related to the ordering of a glass of orange juice (which seems to stick around even when we pay, as the juice is listed as cappuccino on our receipt). But at last it’s all on the table and we’re ready to sit back, sip our giant juices, and get down to the business of lunch.
First thing to amaze us: the prices. They’re cheap, even by souk standards, and allow us to linger through several rounds of juice and coffee – a must on more than one Friday afternoon. They also offer,
for my beleaguered dining companion and myself, free refills of several of their beverage options, which means many glasses of iced tea in my future.
There is a family-friendly menu of sandwiches, sides and pizzas. Served on a choice of two types of bread – thick and thin – the sandwiches all seem to be variations on Middle Eastern meat themes and, if we weren’t so very well versed in the above, we might be a bit confused.
The people on the next table, however, aren’t having trouble at all, and we begin to suspect that it’s our abysmal Arabic skills that are the problem (even though all items are listed in English, the Arabic names seem to be a bit clearer).
Eventually, we order the kafta sandwich and the falafel, with a side of baked halloumi cheese and an extra portion of pickles, which my companion insists are a must. And when they arrive I see why: it’s a sneaky way to form an awesome sandwich! The halloumi comes with a plate of tomato and cucumber, as well as flat bread, and when combined with the cheese and the pickles it’s a meal in itself. The halloumi is absolute cheesy perfection, squeaky in that fun way halloumi is when it’s prepared properly. It’s crisp on the edges, melty in the middle and feels as if it’s been deep fried, when really it’s been baked (our arteries rejoicing, we dig into the glorious cheese). The pickles are something special too: with a tangy zip, they seem that much more than just a humble gherkin.
Next, our mains arrive – the kafta surrounded by melting cheese and onions, shrouded in thin pita (we’d opted for the thin bread) and easily enough to share between us. We expect it to be greasy, like so many other quick sandwiches, but instead it’s tangy, flavoursome and rich, the meat thinly sliced and reminding us of doner kebabs back home, the cheese melting perfectly to give that rich flavour, without the greasy feeling afterwards. The falafel is excellent, too: neither too spicy nor bland (nothing worse than bland falafel), it’s crisp without making us feel we’d be able to wring out our sandwich. Paired with ripe tomato and rolled in pita, it’s easily enough to share and, together, the two sandwiches – helpfully sliced into eighths – make great finger food.
We linger and watch the Friday afternoon strollers wandering through the souk, enjoying the sunshine and a brief respite from the almost ever-present souk smell of shisha smoke (we may just be upwind, but we don’t really care). The large umbrellas are plentiful and more than enough to protect delicate and impractically pale skin, although for some reason, half-way through our meal, the staff decide we’ve had enough shade and remove ours.
As we finish off the last of the halloumi and sandwiches, our minds turn to dessert, but alas, no waiter is forthcoming. We manage to flag one down long enough to order coffee and ask for a dessert menu, but while the coffee arrives, the menu never does. In the end, we take it as a sign from the universe that we’re not meant to have dessert today. Hopefully that means we can have more of that cheese.
The bill (for two)
1x kafta QR28
1x falafel QR18
1x halloumi QR24
1x pickle QR9
3x Perrier QR36
1x lemonade QR13
1x iced tea QR12
3x cappuccinos QR45
Total (incl charges) QR185
Time Out Doha,
- Previous reviews
Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.