Bistro 61

We get down to business at one of the West Bay area’s newest restaurants
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Time Out Says

Bistro 61 is a new open-all-day eatery in Al Fardan Towers in West Bay. Just one floor up from the lobby via a flight of steps, you emerge into a plush, rose pink themed room with comfortable armchairs, polished wood floors, ornate glasses and an installation of old-fashioned lamp shades in varied shades of pink over the windows. Think Parisian 19th century ladies’ sitting room, and you’re almost there. The effect actually feels quite snug, despite the size of the space.

The restaurant would feel snugger still if it was packed with diners, but unfortunately on our visit this wasn’t the case. When we walked in at 7.30pm mid-week there were two businessmen having coffee, but they left shortly afterwards, and by the time we left at nearly 9pm we’d been the bistro’s only customers for about an hour.

Bistro 61 describes its menu as ‘continental’, and the choice of food is extremely broad. You can take your pick from salads, sandwiches and burgers, pasta, pizza and fish and meat dishes. The restaurant markets itself as an ideal place for business lunches, and they offer a good value set lunch, which changes daily. At dinnertime unfortunately there were no such deals to be had, but we felt the prices were fairly reasonable.

The restaurant doesn’t have an alcohol licence, but serves a wide range of soft drinks. I ordered the coconut and mint Italian soda, my dining partner opted for the five fruit smoothie. We decided to share the Lebanese mezze.

Things began well. Our waitress brought us a selection of delicious warm rolls and butter, and we sat waiting for our drinks to arrive. We were in for a long wait. In fact, they arrived about five minutes after our starter, by which time we were pretty thirsty. I’m fairly sure this is the first time I’ve been served my starter in a restaurant before the drinks had even arrived.

Our starter, the mezze, was acceptable, if rather unexciting. The houmous was tasty and the stuffed vine leaves were flavoursome, if a little small, but the flat bread served with it was over-toasted and in parts slightly burned. Not, then, a dish likely to excite an aficionado of Lebanese cuisine.

When the drinks did finally arrive, the smoothie was rather good – almost a meal in itself – but the Italian soda was a bit of a letdown. My dining partner decided that it tasted like cough medicine, and even though I was not totally averse to the taste, I wouldn’t order it again.

For the main course, I chose the chicken escalope and my dining partner ordered the seafood linguine. The chicken was arranged daintily on a huge white plate with a separate bowl of Dauphinoise potatoes and a pile of seasonal vegetables. The chicken was well seasoned, but benefited from the wedges of lemon provided, and the vegetables, were perfect; al dente and undeniably fresh.

The seafood linguine was served in a covered bowl, and when my dining partner lifted the lid he was surprised to find the ‘seafood’ element of the dish was restricted sadly to shrimp and an unidentified white fish, rather than including the mussels or squid one might usually expect. Still, the tomato-based sauce was satisfyingly pleasant, and he finished it all without any complaints.

Bistro 61 offers a good selection of desserts, all priced at around QR30, and we ordered one each, a selection of Italian ice cream and the tiramisu. Of the ice cream flavours on offer (which weren’t all that many), I opted for chocolate, strawberry and mango. There is an old adage that you can’t really go wrong with ice cream, but I found the mango flavour disappointingly tasteless. The others were fine, though, and were nicely presented in a separate bowl for each flavour. As for the tiramisu – being rather a fan, my dining partner can generally be relied upon to order it wherever it’s served, so I consider him as a trusted judge, and he pronounced this one to be ‘average’.

Average, I think, describes Bistro 61 down to a tee. We couldn’t find anything that we actively disliked about the place – in fact, the surroundings are perfectly pleasant, the prices acceptable, and the service polite, if a little inconsistent – but it just failed to excite us. If you work nearby, one of their lunch deals might be worth checking out, as we suspect the restaurant’s strength might be in this fast service option during your lunch break, rather than in creating a relaxing atmosphere and fine dining experience for a leisurely evening meal.

The bill (for two)
1x Lebanese mezze QR35
1x Seafood linguine QR65
1x Chicken escalope QR55
1x Tiramisu QR34
1x Ice cream QR28
2x soft drinks QR45
2x bottles of water QR44
Total (incl charges) QR306

By Time Out Doha staff  | 31 Mar 2010

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Show number 4498 9393
Doha, West Bay, Doha, Qatar

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