Le Relais de L’Entrecôte

The French chain arrives in Doha to serve pearl guest steak frites
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Time Out Says

Our evening at Le Relais de L’Entrecôte, the Pearl’s newest restaurant, didn’t begin well. We couldn’t find any signs directing us to it, so drove around blindly until we could find someone to ask. Then, once we’d found it, we were told it was closed. Admittedly it was just past 7pm, so we were trying to dine at a relatively early hour for Doha, but not opening until 7.30pm seemed a little fussy. Still, determined souls that we are, we gave a little gallic shrug and headed off to walk along the waterfront until it opened its doors half an hour later.

Without doubt, Le Relais’ large glass conservatory-style space is perfectly positioned to capture what must be a contender for Doha’s finest view. It’s situated in the Porto Arabia area of the Pearl with an uninterrupted vista of the twinkling skyscrapers of West Bay, and the open sea beyond. As large parts of the Pearl are still under construction and its surroundings are incomplete (in the shopping mall nearby, hardly any of the units are occupied), the whole environment felt rather unreal. As we walked along, two talented musicians serenaded us, but we were their only audience. We were beginning to wonder whether we might be solitary diners that night.

However, when the restaurant eventually opened and we were shown to our table, it was clear that word had already got around about the place. The large space, decorated in typically French style with bright paper tablecloths, dark wood and French posters on the walls, began to fill up pretty quickly, until there was a pleasant buzz around us.

We were first shown the drinks menu, which includes alcohol (one benefit of its Pearl location is that it has a licence), and then we were simply asked how we would like our meat cooked. It was at this point that I was glad I’d done my homework. My dining partner looked rather confused, until I explained the chain’s unique selling point; all it serves is a simple starter (walnut salad), followed by rib steak and fries, but it apparently does this so well that it’s been a firm favourite in France since its first restaurant opened in Paris in 1959. Clearly this approach is something of a hazard to vegetarians. It must also be noted that we saw no attempt to explain this concept outside the restaurant, and the waitress offered no explanation once we were seated either.

The salad arrived almost immediately. Accompanied by a baguette, it was fresh and peppery, and the dressing laced with mustard. We’d only just finished the starters when they were whisked away and replaced by our steaks, which was slathered in sauce. I was initially dubious (you’re not given the option of which sort of sauce you’d like either), but in fact it turned out to be delicious. I was intrigued about the recipe, but the waitress just smiled and told me that it was a closely guarded secret. Then a mountain of crispy, hot fries also appeared, and we tucked in.

We were impressed with the standard of the meat, which was tender and cooked exactly to our instruction. And once we’d finished, there came a pleasant surprise – seconds! The waitress reappeared and gave us the same portion once again, another nice touch.

Once we’d finished our main course, we were presented with the dessert menu, and here, at least, there certainly is a great deal of choice. We chose the classic chocolate profiteroles and the Sevigné, a rich chocolate cake. Both were very good and we gamely struggled through eating them, as full as we both were by that point.

Given the lack of information provided to us, the first time we had any idea how much our steak cost was when the bill arrived. At QR125 each for a salad and main course, we felt it was a little overpriced. The desserts and drinks were fairly expensive too, with a large bottle of water weighing in at a hefty QR25. Still, I think people coming to dine at the Pearl expect to pay a premium for the location, although it might be a good idea to flag up the cost of the one and only meal option somewhere prominently for all to see, at least.

The real test, of course, is whether we’d come back to eat here again, and I have to say that we certainly would. Despite the relatively high cost of such a simple meal, the surroundings are lovely, the service efficient, and the food great quality and plentiful. It’s a little bit of France in Qatar, and we were charmed by it.

The bill (for two)
2x salad starters and two steak frites QR250
Chocolate profiteroles QR38
Sevigné QR26
Large bottle of Evian QR25
4x fruit juices QR60
Total (incl charges) QR409

By Time Out Doha staff  | 28 Feb 2010

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Payment OptionsCash, Credit Card
12:00 PM to 11:30 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PMMonday: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PMTuesday: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PMWednesday: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PMThursday: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PMFriday: 12:30 PM to 11:30 PMSaturday: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM
Show number 4495 3876
Doha, The Pearl-Qatar, Porto Arabia, Doha, Qatar

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