Orient Pearl

A sensory and culinary bamboozlement with very good cuisine Discuss this article

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If it’s size and variety you’re after, the Orient Pearl has little contest. This behemoth of an operation along the Corniche is hands down the largest in Doha. It is situated in a double-storey mansion so big it could probably accommodate three separate wedding dinners should the occasion arise.

That’s partly because it is composed of three restaurants. Downstairs, Joury serves Arabic and Oriental food. Upstairs, La Toscana is the Italian and international kitchen. While outdoors, on an expansive terrace overlooking the dancing musical fountains, is the Syrian restaurant Nayrabin.

Can’t decide which? Sit anywhere, and order from all three menus. We are told this is an option after we spot our fellow patrons whose tables are laden with kibbeh and spaghetti bolognese, or chicken cordon bleu with hummous and Thai green curry, all co-existing in multicultural harmony.

Even though we go for an exclusively European track, the cynics inside us begin to emerge. Can a restaurant with hundreds of items actually be good? Is this not simply a glorified diner with a view? We sit waiting for our food with slight unease; the lighting is harsh, and the racket from TV screens blaring out competing programmes all around the dining room is a bit of a sensory overload.

Then the first dish arrives, and we quickly learn why the restaurant is busy on a weeknight. The dressing of our Greek salad is pleasantly balanced, its oil-to-vinegar ratio producing a smooth emulsion, lightly coating the vegetables. The salad would actually be textbook if it had Feta cheese instead of the white cheese substitute that’s become the Doha norm.

Next comes the grilled salmon, still tender and moist, perched on potato rosti and a river of buttery sauce. Our only gripe is the undercooked carrots on the side, but even then we are nitpicking, for the dish is thoroughly enjoyable. So is the buffalina pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese and one of the thinnest, crispiest crusts around.

We are slightly dismayed by the sparse choices for dessert, only three to be exact: cheesecake, tiramisu or chocolate fondant. We settle on the last – the most technically difficult – and again are rewarded. The dark chocolate cake is rich in taste but light in texture, its molten core at that perfect stage somewhere between liquid and paradise.

Which brings us to the ultimate question – would we return? On the one hand, the food is faultless. On the other, we can’t get over the atmosphere that is more dining hall than fine dining restaurant. It’s only when we take a walk on the terrace that we realise this could offer the best of both worlds.

We’ll have to find out soon whether we pay another visit.

The bill (for two)

Greek Salad QR45
Buffalina Pizza QR70
Grilled Salmon QR130
Bottled Water QR20
2 Pomegranate Juice QR90
Total QR355

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: Others, Doha
  • Tel: 4410 6666
  • Travel: Al Corniche Street, Al Salata
  • Cuisine: International
  • Times: Open Sat-Wed noon-midnight; Thu-Fri noon-1am
  • Price: QR350-500
  • Credit Cards Accepted: Yes

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