Prime

Fantastic steak restaurant in the Intercontinental Doha hotel Reviews

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We dig in at the winner of our Best Steakhouse award.

The first time we dined at Prime, just after it opened, we were whelmed. Not overwhelmed, not underwhelmed, simply, whelmed. The food was magnificent on its own, but each thing was so good, nothing blended. It wasn’t sweet harmony. It was like a plateful of Beyonces with no one wanting to share the spotlight. So when we arrived to take it for another spin, we were ready: stretchy pants on, palates ready to be smothered in goodness, and potentially put into a food coma by it all.

Boy, were we surprised! Somewhere between that first review and our most recent visit, they’d chilled out. It’s almost like watching a kid grow from a self conscious, gawky teenager into a poised adult, confident in their own coolness. The restaurant is still gorgeous, with plush circular booths and comfy small tables, tucked in corners and nooks for privacy. But gone were the fussy table decorations. They still can’t resist going a tad over the top when they bring out the bread basket, but that’s ok: we’re supportive of over-the-top-ness when it involves hot, steaming bread served with flavoured cream cheeses and butter. But we’re not really here for the bread: no sir. We’re here for the meat.

To kick it off, my friend goes for the crab cake and I dig into the onion soup. And dig is right: this is a steaming bowl of beefy, oniony broth studded with onions and smothered in a thick layer of cheese. It’s fantastically gloopy. It’s hard to eat gracefully and thus, exactly what you want from an onion soup (the best food is food that cannot be eaten with any sort of style). My friend’s crab cake is fresh and tangy, meaty and thick with nice seasoning. So far, we’re impressed. Where are the theatrics and flourishes to overwhelm us? I raise an eyebrow: surely they can’t have grown up that much.

But wait, they have! They have managed to retain some of the flair that made it special, while toning it down enough to let me actually enjoy it. They still come around with the knife selection, and recommend a knife to go with your steak. But they’re not overwhelming me with choice by also asking what kind of butter I want, or presenting me with four different kinds of salt. Once our weapons are chosen (and I have to resist the urge to sword fight my friend—seriously, one of the knives is inspired by a Japanese samurai sword), the steaks arrive: a Kobe sirloin for my pal, and a Kobe ribeye for me.

A word about fancy meat: is everyone doing it these days? One day I’m going to go into Applebee’s and see grain fed Kobe that’s been massaged by woodland fairies on their menu. But, while everyone might be dishing up the fancy cows these days, it still takes skill to do it well. Prime has that in spades. The meat is gorgeously cooked, exactly to the temperatures we requested. What’s more, it’s beautifully seasoned: they’ve always nailed the seasoning, but now it’s even better—it’s tangy and rich, with a great bite on the tongue, but I can still taste the cow. When the beef is that good, you need a chef with a delicate yet brave hand: do or do not, there is no try. This guy is the Yoda of meat seasoning.

Best of all, they’ve calmed down with the sides. I go for the mashed potatoes while my friend opts for the tempura mushrooms. We also throw in the garlic fries and a Caesar salad for kicks. Last time, the sides were all delectable but nothing blended: everything wanted to attack my tongue, screaming ‘look at me!’ like naughty food toddlers. These toddlers have been wrangled, sent to the time out chair, and have returned on their best behavior. The garlic fries are crispy and lovely next to the steak; the mashed potatoes are a mellow accompaniment. And the Caesar salad is dressed perfectly, with just the right amount of dressing to give it a kick. But my favourite are the tempura mushrooms, little bites of mushroomy heaven. Happiness is a warm mushroom.

So what have we learned? Sometimes, restaurants can be taught. They just need a little bit of time to mature, find their feet, and then, oh yes, then they will be a winner. Literally.

The bill (for two)
1x Aqua Panna QR30
1x Crab cake QR85
1x Onion soup QR55
1x sirloin QR280
1x Caesar salad QR60
1x Ribeye QR320
1x Garlic fries QR25
1x Pepsi QR24
Total QR879

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: InterContinental Doha The City, West Bay, Doha
  • Tel: 4015 8888
  • Travel: West Bay

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User reviews:

Posted by: Mete on 16 May ' 13 at 06:49

Edited by TimeOutDoha.com

Ambiance was great. Whatever they have on the menu was great. As main courses, we ordered one rib eye and one tenderloin. tenderloin was very good but rib eye was like an artificial meat. The waitress didn't allow me to explain it for more than 2 seconds, she immediately took my plate and brought me a new portion in a few minutes. I really admired the way they handled customer feedback. However, I wish I didn't have that experience with my first place. Then I would have given 5 stars. Now it is 4 stars only.

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