New Argentinean restaurant at the Zubarah Boutique Hotel could be the talk of the town
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Time Out Says

When you’ve lived long enough in Doha, you quickly get used to some of its peculiarities. ‘Hello’, for instance, is often replaced by ‘Where are you from?’ For some, this is a mere icebreaker but for others, this sense of origin launches a whole other set of questions that help add insight to a new acquaintance.

So imagine our surprise when speaking to the servers at Caminito, the new Argentinean restaurant in Al Muntazah, to discover they are actually from Argentina – all of the staff, in fact, on the dining floor and in the kitchen. It seems the proprietors of Zubarah Boutique Hotel wanted to create an experience as authentic as possible and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

From the moment we step in, we can’t help but get drawn in. The place itself is elegant although quite nondescript. From the brick walls to the warm lighting, there is nothing that stands out in particular, yet they work in harmony to create a pleasant enough and inviting setting. The large windows along two walls look out onto the wraparound terrace with yet more tables. We take note that the outdoor could be a most charming spot in Doha’s cooler months.

We pick a cozy nook by the windows and begin combing through the menu. Our excitement builds from the very first page, as empanadas are front and centre, with three options to boot: beef with capsicum, corn with onion, chicken with mushroom. Yes, yes, yes and thank you very much.

We call our server back almost immediately and ask for one of each… something to munch on while we decide on how our appetites are to be sated for the rest of the evening. Our bubbly waitress immediately deduces our ravenous cue and quickly brings out a basket of breads and a potato croquette amuse-bouche that makes us rather greedy.

These introductory morsels are warm, cheesy and delicious. Once we pop a chipas, that tapioca bread puff with cheese, we can neither resist nor desist. They disappear as quickly as the empanadas, which get a commendable nine out of ten from our table. The pastry is thin and light and the fillings are chopped so finely they melt easily and satisfy instantly. The chicken is a clear winner, but the beef is not to be dismissed and the sweet corn is a rather delightful counterpoint to its savoury comrades.

For our mains, we get the house specialty of Argentinean steaks. We usually like our meat medium rare – that perfect point when the fat in the steak starts to melt and the meat hasn’t had a chance to dry out – but we also ask the waitress how Argentines typically take their steaks. She explains that medium is the normal route as most people there don’t like too much pink. We are somewhat torn at that point. Do we stick to what we know or try and follow the expert suggestion?

So we settle on a compromise: medium for the lomo (tenderloin) and medium rare for the ojo de bife (ribeye). We warn our server we’re holding her personally responsible if we find the tenderloin tough and overdone (a comment she smartly laughs off and assures us it won’t be). While she is right – the tenderloin is still rather succulent and cooked well – the medium rare ribeye marinated in a chimichurri of oil and herbs hits the jackpot. There are also options for sauces to be served on the side alongside yet more chimichurri, but they are mostly unnecessary. The meat really is good enough to indulge in unadorned.

 We also order a side of grilled greens and mushrooms. They turn out to be the biggest letdown of the evening. The mushrooms in particular come in a bowl so small it is not ample enough to share. We end up telling the manager that a QR30 side dish should really be a lot more generous. An issue he promises to look into.

All things considered, this is a forgivable point. Caminito is one of the newest restaurants in the city and still trying to find its ground. It already has got service down to a tee and there are no problems with authenticity. At this very early stage, it probably just needs to round off the corners.

So we overlook the mate ice cream that’s begun to melt by the time it reaches the table. The presentation may be awry, but the taste is so addictive we demolish the plate in no time. Plus, the citrus accented poached pear with ginger ice cream is a dish we would return for.

Caminito has a lot going for it. Its location in the older part of Doha makes a visit feel akin to a mini adventure. Something about its all-Argentinean staff sets the tone for its warm hospitality. And, during al fresco dining season, this could very well be the talk of town.

The bill (for two)
1 x Cinderella mocktail QR32
1 x Mojito mocktail QR32
1 x seafood appetiser platter QR60
3 x empanadas QR45
1 x Argentinian lomo QR190
1 x Argentinian ojo de bife QR205
1 x sauteed mushrooms QR30
1 x Cajun vegetables QR22
1 x poached pear QR60
1 x assorted tasting dessert QR42
2 x water QR50
Total QR768

By Time Out Doha staff  | 30 Jul 2014

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