FACT’s Asad Khan enjoys Rio Carnival closer to home at Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel with an extravagant meaty spread paired with everything bright and loud.
For those suffering from the thought of this seemingly never-ending heat, there is only one solution, a fresh breath of Brazilian air coming from Ipanema at Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel’s Rio Carnival Brunch. There has always been this FOMO (fear of missing out) for me whenever photographs from the Rio Carnival, happening in Brazil, would pop up on my Instagram. It is considered one of the biggest, boldest and most colourful events in the Brazilian calendar. People dress up with floral headgear, shimmering make-up, neon hues and everything loud. So, this time when Ipanema returned with its Brazilian celebrations, I couldn’t but head there for the fiesta.
Arriving for the Friday brunch I was led into the vaulted opulence of a dining room with floor to ceiling windows completely taking over one side of the restaurant — sun shining brightest, Brazilianthemed music loudest, extravagantly fringed feathers all over the place and the team of Ipanema in clashing prints that varied from exotic animals to birds and leaves. And so it was that I alighted in that sultry, sun-washed city from Doha’s heat and was blissfully ensconced in Brazilian madness.
I started my brunch with Causa Limena (mashed citrus potato, shrimp and Peruvian chilli salad) along with a Quinoa Bowl and Burrata Salad. This is the kind of food you want to start your heavy-duty brunch that in no time takes off to a variety of grilled meats and eventually to desserts. You need to start slow, something simple, healthy, vegie-loaded and protein-rich to prepare your stomach for what’s about to come. The salads were super savoury and creamy. The butter dressing in the burrata was well done in terms of its consistency. It was viscous enough to not drench the cherry tomatoes yet gave its flavourful smoke to make the salad indulgent. And the cheese was so, so creamy. The blend of contrasting textures — softer outer layer and gooey in the centre — was dreamy. There were a couple of other options for salads as well, all laid down on a buffet table.
Ipanema keeps up with its authentic theme of rodizio service. The waiters come to your table with knives and skewers of meat. This is a place for meat lovers! From chicken to lamb to beef, everything cooked to perfection.
Now the mains: the serving started with lamb kofta, followed Contra Fillet (rib eye), Alcatra de Wagyu (smoked Wagyu topside), Costela (short ribs), Pernil de Cordeiro (lamb leg), Frango Picante BBQ (chicken drumstick), Asinha de Frango Marinada (chicken wings in herb mustard sauce), Camaroes Grelhado (grilled prawns) and, my very favourite, Abacaxi Grelhado (grilled pineapple with cinnamon sugar) all medium rare, rich in flavour, charred and gnarly on the outside and velveteen in the centre.
Short ribs were the standout dish among a variety of cuts and some very close contenders: mouth-wateringly, conversationstoppingly wholesome and dripping in succulent juices. It was so fantastically soft and succulent that as I ate it slowly so to savour the rich, buttery essence, I forgot what it feels like to wrestle with a tough, chewy steak. This was precisely the moment when I knew my afternoon was worth it. Experiencing what genuinely was just butter left on my tongue.
One thing is for sure, Ipanema wants you to have the best possible version of grilled steaks and meat. And although, yes, you’re going to get that here, the real downside to eating something so sumptuous is that lowering your standards back to supermarketgrade meat becomes really hard once back home.
Although I was down with the meaty affair — I stuck around for the desserts. From walnut and pecan coffee tart to Tres Leches, peanut butter slice cake, coconut truffles, dry mango chocolate cake, rice pudding, chocolate pudding and so much more. A haven for a sweet tooth.
A brilliantly executed dining experience in the centre of Doha where the bar for celebrating international festivals and bringing international flavours has been raised once again. As the Rio Carnival Brunch returns for the next season which will run through into next year, so I will be back at Ipanema. Better a 20-minute drive than a 17-hour flight to Brazil!. ✤
GO: CALL 4419 5000 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A RESERVATION.