Khan Farouk Tarab Café

A slice of old Cairo serving traditional Egyptian food in Katara Reviews

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The air is thick. A mist hangs sleepily, fruit-scented and warm from the mouths of waterpipes. Somewhere in here too is a whiff of bread, releasing steam as it rises in the oven. The shroud blurs outlines – objects appear opaque; faces become dream-like.

This is the main dining room of Khan Farouk Tarab Café, raucous in some sections with the chatter of people playing backgammon, serene in others where patrons are rapt in conversation. In one alcove, a baker sits on the ground, surrounded by dough as she bakes up trays of bread that are immediately delivered to tables. The scene is quite beautiful – almost choreographed. We soak it in, then decide to sit outdoors. It’s less smoky, brighter lit and fresher with the breeze of the desert winter.

The menu hasn’t changed much since the restaurant opened its doors right by the Katara amphitheatre. We take our cue from the other tables with the trinity of Egyptian favourites: foul, falafel and koushari. There are, in fact, seven varieties of foul, featuring options with eggs, cheese and tahini to name a few.

Our choice of foul with olive oil and lemon turns out to be somewhat a dud. The beans taste dull and dimensionless, lacking the tang or fragrance of the two added ingredients. One mouthful and we push the plate aside, concentrating on the plate of koushari.

Suddenly, the deficiency of the former dish is forgiven. This mixture of rice, lentils, pasta and chickpeas typically inspires trepidation. But the koushari here is not too greasy, and the accompanying tomato sauce also helps to lighten the dish. We think we may avert heartburn, yet!

Still, the highlight of the meal is the falafel, smashed into a disc and fried to flaky perfection. It’s not at all dry, but we order a last minute tahini with parsley to amp up the flavours of our fava bean croquette. The sauce also goes down a treat with the lamb fatteh, which has more rice than toasted flatbread. But it did nothing to improve the grilled pigeons – skeletal to the point of just skin and bones.

So far, the meal feels a complete mixed bag. But when dessert rolls out, our minds are made up. The roasted pumpkin with honey and cream seals the deal. And as the tarab band comes out to play a few tunes, we sit back to fully enjoy this little slice of old Cairo in Doha.

The bill (for two)
1x tahina with parsley QR17
1x mixed salad QR20
1x foul with olive oil/lemon QR20
1x falafel with sesame QR18
1x koushari QR34
1x fatteh with lamb QR58
1x grilled pigeons QR85
1x mouhalabieh QR20
1x pumpkin with honey QR 20
1x mineral water QR16
Total QR308

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: West Bay, Doha
  • Tel: 4408 0840
  • Travel: Building 7, Katara Cultural Village
  • Cuisine: Cafés
  • Experiences: Shisha
  • Times: Open daily 9am-midnight
  • Price: QR50-200
  • Credit Cards Accepted: Yes

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Khan Farouk Tarab Café On The Map

User reviews:

Posted by: Sarah on 07 May ' 11 at 18:44

The food is definitely decent here but the service is APPALLING!! I went with my mother; we stood in the middle of the terrace for 5 minutes and were totally ignored, then finally we approached a waiter and asked for a table on facing the sea, and were wordlessly waved in that direction. We then sat there for a further 15 minutes while all the waiters including the manager continued to completely ignore us, despite my efforts to attract their attention - not so much as even a menu offered. In the end we gave up and walked out. Had been before with my husband; that time we managed to attract someone's attention but the food took 45 minutes to arrive and plenty of people who arrived after us were served way before us. Basically if you are local, you will get lots of attention and service here, as we observed: if you are not local, you will not be made to feel welcome. Avoid at all costs.

Posted by: Tandem on 15 Jan ' 11 at 07:50

Service is very far from being good. And they dont speak good English. probably food is good, but it is not something fantastic. My father said it looks like somebody ate it before. However we are not experts in Egyptan food. Interior is beatiful. Not sure I will come there again.

Posted by: Tandem on 15 Jan ' 11 at 07:47

Food is good. Reservation is highly recommended. I liked the interior and especially traditional bread oven. The staff is very friendly. It seems not all the staff speak very good English. BUT they need substantial improvements in service:
A) food arrived before forks and knives, for which we had to ask waiters separately. Moreover, two times.
B) I ordered 3 tea pots. Instead of that they brought 2 teapots and one of them had 2 teabags in one pot. It looked at least stupid even from common sense.
C) I asked to bring 3 more teapots. They brought 3, but left only 2 after putting in 3 small tea cups. This looked like greedy. And I found 6 teas in the bill afterwards.
D) they do not have portable credit card reader, so if you use a card with a PIN, you will have to walk to the cashier or to provide a waiter with a PIN (which however is very common in Doha, but I do not support it).

I did not find this place better than other Arabic restaurants in Doha. For example I like Lebanese one on the Hamad road much better. However I am not an expert in Arabic food, so probably it is more authentic cuisine.

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