Al Adhamiyah Iraqi Restaurant
Time Out Says
And most of that following seemed to be there when we visited – on this still lovely April night, getting a table was a challenge, but after some negotiation our party settled in amongst the mix of Arab, Asian and Western families and groups of friends, enjoying the food and outdoor weather. This is the perfect place to watch the world go by – families, strutting young men with mobiles glued to their ears, women in teetering heels, or transit travellers in sensible shoes and bedecked with backpacks.
Our waiter took the initiative and suggested a variety of Iraqi specialties. He was a man of few words, and preferred pointing, so luckily for the linguistically impaired like ourselves, there are helpful photographs of the various dishes.
Starters were simple – a mixed appetiser platter was brought to the table with a basketful of freshly baked and fluffy Iraqi flatbread. The platter was a mix of Arabic favourites – fattoush with a tangy dressing, hummus and moutabul – and a surprise element in a stunning olive salad with a hint of tamarind.
This kept us busy for a while, because the next dishes, we were warned, ‘take time’. Actually we were told this several times, we suspect because our Egyptian waiter considered us entertaining. Now we know he was just warming us up.
We chose the next dish based purely on the photo. More of life’s decisions should be made this way if the results were anything to go by. Kouzi al sham is what can only be described as the Iraqi version of a pie. Encased in a kind of bread, you break through the layer to uncover a delicious jumble of fragrant spiced rice with chicken, lamb, vermicelli, sultanas and potato. It’s served with a yoghurt sauce and was so amazing, we scraped the plate clean and fought over the scraps.
Next up were the ubiquitous Iraqi kebabs – we chose chicken. Freshly cooked and moist, they were everything we had hoped for.
Another experiment was the Iraqi take on an old favourite – kubbeh sray; balls of minced lamb, coated in bulgur wheat. Unlike other versions, this was served with a tomato-based sauce. Next was the main event, Iraqi maskoof is a national favourite and the signature of this restaurant. It’s a whole fish (sold by the weight), butterflied, barbecued and served with spices and lemon. The fish itself was tender and cooked to perfection, accompanied by a mango sauce.
We had to admit, although impressive, the fish and kubbeh couldn’t really compete with the kouzi. This was the undeniable hit of the evening and a revelation.
But while the appetisers and mains were excellent, the desserts were something else. Perhaps we were expected to be full at this point, as what we read on the menu didn’t exactly ring any traditional bells, and appeared to just be different combinations of fruit and ice cream, each one more elaborate than the next. Seduced by the claim that it was authentic Iraqi, we ordered the Al Adhamiyah salad to share.
What followed took us completely by surprise. In a sundae glass, chopped pineapple and peaches and fresh apples and red grapes were smothered in vanilla, chocolate and mango ice cream, then doused in syrup.
But wait, there’s more. Remember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Remember the mountain, the Devil’s Tower National Monument? Think about that, but made of whipped cream and bedazzled by three straws with chocolate-dipped grapes impaled on them. The straws were then artfully embedded in the fruit and ice cream concoction.
This was delivered to our table by the smiling waiter, who claimed it was ‘very special’. He then retreated to safety with several of his colleagues, who all stood and watched while we poked and prodded and dared each other to eat the impaled grapes.
It was breathtaking, it was alarming, and completely unexpected.It also took some time and a free serving of Iraqi tea to recover from the fruit, chocolate and cream mountain.
Al Adhamiyah serves up some impressive traditional Iraqi food and decent prices, but we advise sticking to the front half of the menu unless you want to be wheeled out afterwards. And when a restaurant is as popular and packed as this one usually is, that would be no laughing matter.
The bill (for two)
Iraqi maskoof (by the kg) QR142
Mixed appetiser QR45
Chicken kebab QR40
Kubbeh sray QR38
Kouzi al sham QR49
Al Adhamiyah salad QR18
Lemon and mint juice QR14
Diet Pepsi QR3
Mineral water QR9
By Time Out Doha staff | 28 Apr 2011
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