Layali

Mezzes steal the show while service lags far behind in this neighbourhood Lebanese eatery Discuss this article

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The evening is to be remembered for two words that probably don’t appear together very often: pineapple tabbouleh. Fresh pineapple, as we all know, is not endemic to the Levant. So when Layali, Doha’s neighbourhood joint for salt-of-the-earth Lebanese cuisine puts the dish on the menu, our curiosities are aroused. Eventually, our taste buds are rewarded.

The combination is curious, cooling and dynamic. The tartness of the pineapple is amplified by lemon juice and simultaneously tamed by tiny cucumber cubes. Throw in parsley and pomegranate, and this is a winner hands down.

We’ve been meaning to try out this new branch in Lagoona Mall, a result of the restaurant’s long-running success on Salwa Road.

When we arrive for early dinner on a weekend, the dining room is modestly busy and we are greeted by a honcho smoking a cigarette behind the entrance counter. The scene is slightly jarring but we quickly dismiss it as we settle into our table.

In the end, we decide to go fully vegetarian… choosing seven mezzes and a main. Far from being restricted, we have options galore. The restaurant has not only the standards but quite an extensive list of innovative dishes, from spicy mohammara to pumpkin moutabal and artichoke ghanouge, a twist on the popular eggplant variety baba ghanouge. We have particularly high hopes for the last two, and though both are tasty, feel lackluster compared with the crispy falafels that are moist and fluffy inside.

The biggest let down of our visit would be the patchy service. The captain who takes our order is helpful in recommending dishes to complement each other. But that level of know-how dissipates when the food arrives. On two separate occasions we ask the servers what’s being served and both times we are told ‘I don’t know; I will check.’ Then our bill unexpectedly arrives halfway through our meal. We eventually order two pots of post-dinner tea but one is forgotten; and a gentle reminder seems to cause a fair level of confusion.

Close to the end, we remark that we probably should have left when the bill first came. Which is quite a pity, because by most accounts, we’ve just had a rather good meal. And a fully satisfying vegetarian one at that; they had even made the okra stew bamiah without meat on request. We can’t recommend Layali for its hospitality, but will rave at long lengths about the irresistible pineapple tabbouleh.

The bill (for two)
1 x large still water QR20
1 x small sparkling water QR13
1 x pineapple juice QR26
1 x pineapple tabbouleh QR30
1 x hummus Beiruty QR32
1 x artichoke ghanouge QR28
1 x crushed wheat salad QR22
1 x pumpkin moutabel QR28
1 x potato harra QR26
1 x falafel QR23
1 x bamiah stew with rice QR58
1 x herbal tea QR18
1 x Moroccan green tea QR18
Total QR342

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: Lagoona Mall, West Bay Lagoon, Doha
  • Tel: 4471 8417
  • Travel: Zig Zag Towers

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