Parisa

Iranian restaurant at the Sharq Village and Spa in Doha Reviews

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Full disclosure: I’ve never eaten Iranian food before. As we cross the garden from the main hotel to the restaurant, both my dining compaion and myself are a little nervous.

Any weirded-out feelings of food dread start to evaporate when we step off the private elevator (yes, private elevator), into the restaurant however. It smells lovely. I always think you can’t go wrong if the place you’re about to eat has yummy smells, so there’s that in their favour. The restaurant is small, with round tables and cushy banquette seating. There’s an outdoor patio section as well that unfortunately isn’t available the night we arrive, but I’m already thinking of the potential cool-weather dawdling that could occur there.

There seem to be more servers than clients when we arrive, even with the place over half full. We’ve barely settled down amongst the cushions before two different people arrive to see if we want anything, and before we’ve had a chance to glance at the menu, the waiter is hovering. The menu itself is large, with traditional names for dishes, so it takes us a minute to wade through it.

While we figure it out, yet another server wafts over with a plate of bread and another of cheese, sliced vegetables and herbs. The bread looks like a cross between bubble wrap and pizza crust, but it’s actually delicious and clearly fresh from the oven. The waiter tells us we’re to wrap the different vegetables and herbs in the bread ‘Iranian style’. Well ok. Although I’m not too keen on a lot of it, the soft cheese wrapped in the warm bread is lovely. Half way through the existing bubbly round of bread, and another waiter (we’re up to six at this point) arrives with a second portion – this one a little on the overly-done side.
Before we fill up entirely on bread and cheese, we place our order. To start, I go for the fried eggplant. It’s served with crunchy fried garlic and ‘fried yogurt’, so I’m intrigued. I like it when food is prepared in ways I can’t even begin to understand (how do you fry a liquid? How?). My friend goes for the noodle soup. When they arrive, his soup is more a bowl of noodles, to the point he basically wants to eat it with a fork—and does, because it’s flavoursome, tender and delicious.

My fried eggplant comes presented in individual rolls, topped with a tower of fried garlic in a bed of something goopy, which I assume is that fried yogurt. After scraping off some of the garlic (I like garlic: I just don’t want to be sweating it out of my pores for the next month), I dig in. My mouth doesn’t really know what to do with it; there are a ton of flavours happening, none of which I’m used to: it’s tender and I think it’s good, I’m pretty sure it’s good, my brain just needs a second to process it. The layers of flavours, of sweet and savoury, is something new on my western palate. Overall I have to give a big thumbs up to this one, and even my eggplant-hating dining companion tries a bite and declares it good. However, there is way too much garlic involved – some of it overcooked for that burnt garlic taste.

Next up is mains. I go for the lamb chops, and from the massive selection of rice rattled off by our waiter, opt for one studded with saffron. My friend gets the chicken hotpot, and, on the recommendation of our waiter, plain rice. When they arrive, the presentation is beautiful – my lamb is overflowing the serving plate, and my friend’s hotpot has the most incredible smell, considering it’s a bowl full of brown floaty things, once the lid is removed. Everything is served family style, so this would be a great place to share; and we do.

My lamb is tender and perfect, nicely sliced and with more than enough to go around in the portion. Paired with the rice it’s lovely and I gobble it down. My friend’s chicken is a surprise and we’re torn about it; myself, I tend to not appreciate sweet poultry. My friend however declares the mix of sweet-and-sour sauce to remind him of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and gives his approval by pretty much licking the bowl. The sauce is a mix of pomegranate and spices, and it’s one of those things that you’re either going to absolutely adore or tolerate, but either way it’s worth a try.

The nice part of family style is we’re not too bursting for dessert either; I go for the pistachio ice cream, and my friend tries the saffron crème brulee. This is unfortunately when all of our (at this point seven) waiters seem to evaporate. We’re waiting for our coffee and our bill, but we can’t seem to get their attention. Eventually we do spot them – clustered around the kitchen door – but they seem to be debating world peace or something equally important and ignore us. That’s ok though because they’ve already given us the crème brulee. I’m a brulee snob, usually not liking it for texture reasons, but this one is perfection on a spoon. The sugar top is crisp, and the pudding bit is firm – not at all goopy. The taste is subtle vanilla with a hint of exotic saffron that makes me keep stealing tastes from my friend’s dish. I never would have thought the two would mix, but it’s delightful. My ice cream is interesting too; it’s not the usual blended bright green pistachio mass, instead it’s studded with nuts. People really need to use saffron more often, after dining at Parisa it’s now one of my favourite spices.

Overall, the food is good, different and interesting, the atmosphere is nice (if not stunning), and the service rockets between over-the-top and nonexistent. It’s firmly in the middle of restaurants for a regular evening, but the interesting cuisine means it’s probably worth at least one visit, and a good place to take newcomers or guests for a taste of the Middle East that doesn’t include hummus.

The bill (for two)
1x Fried eggplant
QR40
1x Iranian soup QR40
1x Lamb chops QR115
1x Chicken hotpot QR80
1x Crème brulee QR40
1x Ice cream QR40
1x Persian tea QR45
1x Café latte QR38
1x Evian QR38
Total (including charges) QR476

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: Sharq Village & Spa, Khulaifat, Doha
  • Tel: 4425 6666
  • Travel: Al Asmakh Street
  • Website | Send mail
  • Cuisine: Arabic, Persian
  • Times: Open Tue-Sun 6.30pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 12.30pm-4pm, 6.30pm-11pm
  • Price: QR350-500
  • Credit Cards Accepted: Yes

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User reviews:

Posted by: pasha on 23 Apr ' 12 at 11:40

GOOD FOOD... clean and tasty ..... I think is the top one in Doha. bit expensive but worth a try for sure.

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