Le Central Restaurant

Mediterranean cuisine leaves us satisfied and intrigued at La Cigale Hotel Discuss this article

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A restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine can be a hard sell. What, after all, is on the menu? The Mediterranean basin encompasses vast terrain and diverse flavours, wrapping in the woody spices of Morocco, the supple produce of Italy, and the Levant’s characteristic mezzes among others. Would we encounter lamb tajine and pumpkin ravioli and hummous all on the same table?

We check our expectations with the hostess on the ground floor and scale a set of steep stairs from La Cigale’s popular bakery to the oft-forgotten second floor, the home of Le Central. Tables are arranged around glass windows towering several feet above our heads. We are surrounded by rather lush greenery. A fellow reviewer points out the plants are all plastic, but the atmosphere thankfully isn’t. The space hints at the subdued breakfast rooms of too many midtown business hotels but is saved by the unique views of Al Sadd’s arterial streets branching out of C-Ring Road.

Before sitting down, we are drawn to the salad bar in the middle of the room. From ceviche and smoked duck breast to chicory and marinated fresh artichokes, it’s a smorgasbord of colourful ingredients. The server explains the buffet may be taken as a starter or a main course for an additional fee. We appreciate the latter option, especially in this city where high-quality salad bars are few and far between.

When we finally peruse the menu, the Mediterranean edge of the salad bar ebbs away, replaced by a French bistro feel. Items such as Argenteuil soup, merou rolls and lamb Navarin could prove foreign for the non-Gallic among us. But the servers do a decent job of describing the items in a way the menu does not.

As we progress through our meal, we can’t help but note that everything is overwhelmingly French. The Argenteuil, a light asparagus broth, is the crowd favourite, enhanced by fresh bursts of basil. The lamb Navarin packs the meaty flavours of a stew but is slightly one-dimensional. While the roasted merou, thinly sliced so its fishy flavours remain subtle, is expertly wrapped around a confit of vegetables but yearns textural contrast because the accompanying fennel is also wilted.

We appreciate the level of technique behind the cooking: vegetables are uniformly cut, chocolate is perfectly tempered. But the higher than average prices and less than superb dishes could deter a future visit. Unless, of course, we’re looking for a bountiful, Mediterranean salad for our meal. In that regard, Le Central fits the bill to the tee.

The bill (for two)
1x Argenteuil soup QR60
1x salad bar QR75
1x lamb Navarin QR115
1x merou rolls QR145
2x desserts QR90
2x bottled water QR56
1x fatteh with lamb QR58
1x grilled pigeons QR85
1x mouhalabieh QR20
1x pumpkin with honey QR20
Total QR525

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: La Cigale Hotel, Bin Mahmoud, Doha
  • Tel: 4428 8772
  • Travel: Suhaim Bin Hamad Street
  • Website | Send mail

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