Craig Ferriman discovered fine dining in a laid-back atmosphere at the finally reopened BiBo Dani Garcia.

My burning question on arriving at Bibo was why hadn’t I been before? It opened in January 2020. Well, the truth is that, because of the pandemic, they were forced to close twice so it is with great relief that their doors have reopened and the chef is back in the kitchen. BiBo Dani Garcia started in Spain and, so far, the Qatar iteration is the first in another country, so we should feel rightly honoured. The restaurant is run under the careful eye of Spanish-Filipino Chef Santiago Guerrero, who has a long association with Chef Dani Garcia going back as far as 2012 when he was opening head chef for the latter’s Manzanilla Spanish Brasserie in New York, which was awarded Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide in its first year.

Having received a First Class BSC (honours) in Culinary Arts Management, during his 20 years in the kitchen Chef Santiago has garnered multiple awards and worked alongside Michelin-starred chefs all over the world.

The most famous of the BiBo restaurants in Spain is bright and the design is louder; here they’ve kept the modern décor but toned down the lighting, so it feels more intimate, stripped back and rather sexy too. Situated in the Al Gassar Resort opposite St. Regis, where the old ballroom complex used to be, BiBo is a large restaurant divided up with booths for groups, side tables for couples and high tables for casual drinks too. The bar in the middle looks like a park bandstand and there are tall metal archways skirting the edge of the room. We found ourselves sitting underneath one such arch. Hidden away at the back are the most spacious private party rooms I can recall anywhere, so this is a place with options and a place for all manner of occasions.

In a word, the theme is Spanish although it deserves a few more words. Andalusianinspired with other flavours from Greater Spain and the Hispanic world probably better explain the menu. It’s not strictly tapas but the sharing mentality is the way to go.

A trolley arrived shortly after we sat down and our waiter, Borja, started plating up freshly made guacamole with nachos and it was unique and distinctive. Different from a Mexican guac but unique in that its ingredients included burrata, edamame and mint. It’s one of their best sellers and some people go there and just chomp on that all night. Luckily, they took it away from us so we could focus on other light starters like the striped bass ceviche, which had a crunchy texture from finely chopped green apples and jalapenos and was lighter and less acidic than your usual ceviche due to less sauce. They like burrata cheese here, and we had it with confit cherries on top as well as orange wedges. We then tried what is one of their tastiest and most popular offerings globally. Oxtail brioche doesn’t just sound good on paper, it tastes great in the mouth. Presented on a platter with their signature B’ bull sauce, the top slice of brioche is upside down. The waiter invited us to flip it over so that the sauce would drip across the pulled oxtail and then no other instructions precluded us from eating it in one bite.

Seafood is in abundance at BiBo. The squid ink croquettes are another example of popping something in the mouth in one and letting the flavours do the rest. The Tempura prawns were good, ably aided by the impressive in-house spicy sauce. The classic marinated sea bass came on a long board with Andalusian adobo taking up the whole table and you could pick up the pieces like the fanciest fish fingers you’ve ever seen. The food here is definitely fine-dining quality, but the way you eat it is pleasantly informal.

Two highlights for us were the slow-cooked beef ribs which took three days to cook! We could taste virtually every minute of that loving attention. And the grilled octopus, of which there was a lot, came in a bowl of black rice and roast garlic alioli. Both were of the highest quality and utterly delicious.

Instagram addicts won’t struggle to find plenty to snap. Presentation is on a par with the cooking. The dessert was a real performance with our waiter bringing a trolley bearing what looked like a school chemistry experiment but resulted in salted caramel ice cream. Three-Michelin-starred Chef Partner, Dani Garcia, is credited as one of the world’s first chefs to use liquid nitrogen in restaurant cooking and uses it at -195 degrees to help quickly freeze the ice cream while whisking it table side. This allows the creation of a freshly churned ice cream that’s extra creamy as the ice crystal formation is very small since the mixture freezes in less than two minutes, leaving a velvety smooth texture. This restaurant is worth several visits as there is so much to enjoy. BiBo is back and I will be too! ✤