Named after an ancient province in Azerbaijan, Emille Artigas discovered that the newly opened Shirvan Métisse is a rich and diverse destination of its own that lets you discover a plethora of wonders of the silk route and promises a truly unforgettable experience.

It was one early Tuesday evening, and we could feel the thrilling ambiance that awaited us as we approached the exceptionally designed and intricately lit main entrance of the newly launched Shirvan Métisse. The legendary brand has been brought to Qatar by Michelin-starred Chef Akrame Benallal and offers an expedition of culinary flavours and an entirely new fusion concept at the vivacious Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar.

The space flaunts a meticulously decorated interior featuring a relaxed Oriental feel with décor influenced by tradtions, such as oversized wooden doors, lanterns and intricately embossed metal serving plates, and Arab-Andalusian design, complemented by the open kitchen at the heart of the restaurant. The outdoors is enhanced by an air-conditioned terrace overlooking the picturesque backdrop of the marina.

For some of us, the Old Silk Road food and culture evoke a rather mysterious and adventurous image and our journey was nothing but mesmerising from here on. Chic but subtle music filled the air, with new and regular guests arriving to perfect the vibe. At Shirvan Métisse, mocktails are part of the journey and are best enjoyed paired with the food. The drinks are infused with homemade syrups and fresh fruits and focus on spices. Whilst our food selection was being recommended, the mocktails arrived, and our favourite was the Frozen Bay, a minty and quenching concoction of apple juice lemon sorbet, garam masala and lemon confit that is served bubbled in a glass and gives out dancing smoke when popped.

A sharing concept is the soul of Shirvan Métisse cuisine. It reflects the inspiration in every dish of adventure that draws emotions closer together. First to arrive was an enticing set of sharing platters. The Black Hummus, which is the charcoal-smoked and flavorsome eggplant and chick peas, served with Lebanese bread, is the best way to start; followed by a soft and juicy duo of oysters served with succulent chermoulah sauce with salmon roe. The Red Tuna tartare was a feast of sumptuous flavours mixed together, immaculately accompanied with truly tangy, crispy winter asparagus plated with tahini sauce. Azerbaijani wraps came next.

The Et Qutab, the fresh Azeri grilled bread stuffed with impeccable shavings of lamb, onions and sumac, as well as the Goy Qutab, a scrumptious mix of fresh herbs and onions both perfected with the combination of pomegranate and lemon juice, were dishes we couldn’t get enough of, but then came heavenly cheese naan topped with truffles and the delicious Beetroot Tikki, with a remarkably crispy shell-covered beetroot with cashew nuts. The mains were hearty delights. The picture-perfect lamb, called The Unmissable Slow Braised Lamb, that serves two to three people (looked more like four to six to me), was so appetizing to the eyes.

Marinated in fermented milk and slow cooked for 24 hours, the meat is also flawlessly grilled, exceptionally tender on the inside and lusciously crispy on the inside. It is divinely tasty with or without the reduced lamb jus that is served with it. The Lobster Pastilla was the masterpiece of the evening. The slowcooked lobster is an indulgence to remember. Soft and juicy, it melts divinely, marvellously served with angel hair noodles and crispy filo pastries, it’s the dish we will return for.

The sides are a revelation, the Spices Silk Road is a delicious combination of chilli and spices, while Tedec Style is a crispy rice conception from Iran, flavoured with almonds, baked then pan fried to perfection. At Shirvan Métisse, the recipes are beautifully prepared and presented with a level of care that is dazzling to complement the delicate flavours. So, we couldn’t have been more excited when our desserts started with The Unconditional Millefeuille, made out of orange and cream with white chocolate and, my personal favourite, the Frozen Baklava, a celestial creation of rose water, pistachios, nuts, nougatine and almond milk, provided the ultimate amazing end to our feast.

One thing noteworthy to mention and the most important thing that made the experience even more memorable was the spotless and amazing service. The team, from the management to kitchen and serving staff, are the most hospitable, without trying too hard, smart, friendly and passionate team I have ever encountered. This leaves a mark and makes a lot of difference; I will easily return because of them.

Shirvan Métisse lets you discover the world of the Silk Road through a culinary journey, by mirroring the destination, Chef Akrame Benallal has created a menu that combines an abundance of colourful wonders, adding depth to the dishes. Shirvan Métisse Doha seems to be the outcome of the entangled alleys of the magnificent bazaar giving life and soul to the dishes and projecting images of a rich nourishing East, bringing it together into one Silk Road. It was an experience to remember and it is evident that, barely one day after the launch, Shirvan Métisse is already a force to be reckoned with, not just as a restaurant but as a destination on the Doha scene. ✤