Khan Farouk Tarab Café

A slice of old Cairo serving traditional Egyptian food in Katara
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Time Out Says

The air is thick. A mist hangs sleepily, fruit-scented and warm from the mouths of waterpipes. Somewhere in here too is a whiff of bread, releasing steam as it rises in the oven. The shroud blurs outlines – objects appear opaque; faces become dream-like.

This is the main dining room of Khan Farouk Tarab Café, raucous in some sections with the chatter of people playing backgammon, serene in others where patrons are rapt in conversation. In one alcove, a baker sits on the ground, surrounded by dough as she bakes up trays of bread that are immediately delivered to tables. The scene is quite beautiful – almost choreographed. We soak it in, then decide to sit outdoors. It’s less smoky, brighter lit and fresher with the breeze of the desert winter.

The menu hasn’t changed much since the restaurant opened its doors right by the Katara amphitheatre. We take our cue from the other tables with the trinity of Egyptian favourites: foul, falafel and koushari. There are, in fact, seven varieties of foul, featuring options with eggs, cheese and tahini to name a few.

Our choice of foul with olive oil and lemon turns out to be somewhat a dud. The beans taste dull and dimensionless, lacking the tang or fragrance of the two added ingredients. One mouthful and we push the plate aside, concentrating on the plate of koushari.

Suddenly, the deficiency of the former dish is forgiven. This mixture of rice, lentils, pasta and chickpeas typically inspires trepidation. But the koushari here is not too greasy, and the accompanying tomato sauce also helps to lighten the dish. We think we may avert heartburn, yet!

Still, the highlight of the meal is the falafel, smashed into a disc and fried to flaky perfection. It’s not at all dry, but we order a last minute tahini with parsley to amp up the flavours of our fava bean croquette. The sauce also goes down a treat with the lamb fatteh, which has more rice than toasted flatbread. But it did nothing to improve the grilled pigeons – skeletal to the point of just skin and bones.

So far, the meal feels a complete mixed bag. But when dessert rolls out, our minds are made up. The roasted pumpkin with honey and cream seals the deal. And as the tarab band comes out to play a few tunes, we sit back to fully enjoy this little slice of old Cairo in Doha.

The bill (for two)
1x tahina with parsley QR17
1x mixed salad QR20
1x foul with olive oil/lemon QR20
1x falafel with sesame QR18
1x koushari QR34
1x fatteh with lamb QR58
1x grilled pigeons QR85
1x mouhalabieh QR20
1x pumpkin with honey QR 20
1x mineral water QR16
Total QR308

By Time Out Doha staff  | 28 Jan 2015

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Details

Payment OptionsCash, Credit Card
CuisinesEgyptian
Features
9:00 AM to 1:00 AM
Sunday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMMonday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMTuesday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMWednesday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMThursday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMFriday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMSaturday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AM
Show number 4408 0840
Doha, West Bay Lagoon, Al Isteqlal Road, West Bay Lagoon, Doha, الدوحة، Qatar
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