Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), most people’s reaction to, “I’m going to try out a barbecue donut” is: “a barbecue donut? Amazing! Why have we never thought of that? I bet it gets so caramelised and delicious”. “No, actually you sit in a donut-shaped boat and have a barbecue – a normal one.”
“Oh… I don’t get it. Are barbecued donuts part of the menu?” (Diplomatic Club, take note. That wouldn’t be a bad idea?). Though barbecued sugared donuts are now firmly on my list of things that the world needs, the kind of BBQ Donut already in existence is something else entirely. When The Diplomatic Club invited me to try theirs, I jumped at the chance. I love barbecues and I love boats (that makes me sound a bit weird, I know) so this was quite the perfect scenario.
I arrive to a tray of welcome drinks, and sit for a few minutes while the donut is prepared, revelling in the fact that I’m basking in the sun, sipping a strawberry mocktail instead of sitting in the office. Once we’re ready to disembark, we all clamber into the boat and settle in. The food is loaded in after us in big cool boxes, and a waiter climbs on board, too.
The trips starts off (and remains) pretty slow. At one point we’re making such slow progress that I think we might have run aground in some shallow water. This isn’t a bad thing though – no-one wants to be jetting off at high speeds while trying to heat baked potatoes on a grill and balance a plate of food on a plastic table top.
This is perhaps the only downside to the experience. There’s a lot of food, and not a lot of space to put it. Picnic-style, the salad is boxed up, dressing comes in little plastic pots, and then there’s butter, bread, sauces, plates and cutlery to contend with. At one point, I’m concentrating so hard on buttering my baked potato while holding a bottle of smoky honey barbecue sauce that I don’t notice a pot of salad dressing slowly sliding its way to the edge of the table. The miracle manoeuvre I employ to save it is the stuff of viral videos.
The food, however, makes the effort worth it. Truthfully, it’s much better than I was expecting from a tiny little boat floating in the sea. The grilled chicken and beef steaks are juicy and clearly very high quality, followed by fresh tiger prawns. Delicious. Then, just when we think the food is over and we’re sitting back cradling our food babies, our waiter whips out frankfurters and skewers of pineapple. A great combination. Hot, grilled cinnamon pineapple will be featuring in pretty much all my home cooking from now on.
If you’re prone to seasickness, it might be a good idea to skip the huge meal. Opt instead for the Tea in the Sea package that comes with a simple selection of tea, coffee and Arabic sweets, then sit back and enjoy the view.
Though the food takes centre stage during this experience – literally and figuratively – don’t forget that as you chug along the coast you’ll also get some awesome views of The Pearl, Katara and West Bay. As someone new to the city, this was my favourite aspect of the experience. There are far worse ways to spend an afternoon than out on the beautiful aquamarine waters of the Gulf, admiring Doha’s skyline.
By the time we float past Katara amphitheatre things have gotten a bit choppy, which doesn’t work wonders for my full stomach, but a few minutes later we’re en-route back to shore.
I'm told that if you book a night time experience, in addition to a twinkling skyline view, you’ll get a donut decked out in disco lights, which sounds so gloriously ’80s that I’d recommend it without even trying it.
Either way, we challenge you to find a more novel spot to host a barbie in the city. Trust me, you will fail.
QR450 (boat ride only); QR75 per person (30 min, Tea in the Sea package); QR180 per person (barbecue package), plus QR250 boat hire for each hour and QR100 for each additional 30 minutes. The Diplomatic Club, West Bay Lagoon, www.thediplomaticclub.com (4484 7444).
Four to try Restaurants with a sea view
This Sharq Village restaurant serves up great French cuisine and seafood, but the best thing about the venue is its terrace with views over the Gulf. It makes for a pretty romantic dining experience, frankly.
Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm. Sharq Village & Spa, Khulaifat (4425 6666).
Oyster bay & bar
A poolside spot with Jamaican treats and reggae beats. It's surprisingly laid-back for such a classy hotel, and has a genuinely chilled-out, relaxed vibe, plus plenty of tasty Caribbean snacks and wide-ranging beverages.
Open Thu-Fri 8pm-2am, Sat 8pm-midnight. The St Regis Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4446 0000).
The terrace here has stunning views of West Bay, and tends to be a lively restaurant, frequented by large groups of friends. The menu is diverse to say the least, but their authentic Lebanese fare is best.
Open Sat-Wed 12.30pm-12.30am, Thu-Fri 12.30pm-1am. The Corniche, West Bay (4483 4423).
Since this huge new opening sits out on its own pier, it would be difficult for it not to have some of the best sea views in town. The restaurant, which stretches over three huge levels, also has a great rooftop terrace.
Open daily 6pm-1am (last food orders 11.30pm). Four Seasons Hotel, Doha, West Bay (4494 8888).