El Faro’s grand opening with Chef Javier Aranda at Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Doha was a dining affair for the books. FACT’s Anushay Taimur Khan couldn’t wait to try this restaurant from the renowned 2 Michelin Star chef.

I was recently lucky enough to meet Chef Javier Aranda at the official launch of El Faro at Marsa Malaz Kempinski and I couldn’t help but admire his passion for cuisine – something that he speaks of inheriting from his grandfather, so I couldn’t wait to taste some authentic Spanish food. So, during the middle of the week, I headed to El Faro to see the magic created by the Michelin Star chef.

A dimly lit room welcomed me with a bar in the middle of the restaurant with the seating arrangement on the further end of the eatery. You could even dine al-fresco but considering the love-hate relationship between my hair and the weather, I took a seat indoors, on the comfortable light brown leather chairs. The wall behind me was decorated with graffiti, projecting a very trendy flair to the look of the place. A marble lamp lit the table and my menu had a reading light on it too! The romantic atmosphere gives way to the cuisine that is served next.

The starters were a pleasant way to be introduced with the cuisine. The good old croquetas were heavenly, then again, which cheese item isn’t? I was warned before I had the Bocadillo de calamar a la inversa – a calamari sandwich with a twist – to stay tuned for trying one of the most successful experiments out of the kitchen. The deliciously crusty sandwich literally came in a twist; with flavourful calamari inside the sandwich, and crispy calamari on the outside as well, this little treat was absolutely divine! Personally, the Chipirones rellenos en su tinta took me by surprise. The studded baby squid with ink over rice was simply piquant! The ink had a twist of its own to the dish and it made the entire plate a whole. The delectable Gofre Caprese was simply a trick for all since it looked like it was a dessert served as starters. As happy as that made me, I loved how the chef had experimented with the everyday dish – a waffle topped with mozzarella cheese, giving it the illusion of whipped cream – a blissful combo that you never knew you wanted.

I’m going to be honest with you – I don’t necessarily rejoice every time that I hear that I am being served octopus, but, since I had asked the team to surprise me with their best, I couldn’t really complain! The pulpo a nuestra manera came as a grilled octopus that’s taste was enhanced with the sweet potato sauce served with it. The crispy, grilled skin of the octopus was a complete game changer and I recommend it to all those who are in love with seafood. I even requested the sharing platter and got served with the Carrillera de ternera con cogollos de lechuga y mojo. Yes, that is the name of the dish but, don’t worry about it when you get to the restaurant. All the dishes, aptly named in Spanish, have descriptions under them in English so you do not need to worry about not understanding what you’re ordering. The Carrillera, a ten-hour slow cooked dish of beef cheeks was so tender it was like biting into a tasty cloud of perfection. The beef came glazed with the BBQ sauce and served with mojo sauce – a grouping meant to win awards. The tanginess of the mojo sauce elevated the flavour of the meat further and the entire experience was simply sublime.

A meal really isn’t complete until you’re served dessert and the concept of the regular Crème Brulee was slightly adjusted for dinner requirements at El Faro, Crema Catalana aireda came with aired Catalonian cream with caramelized sugar and toffee crunch. The aired cream made it a very light dessert, making me have more than I normally would because it did not feel heavy at all. For the final crescendo, we relied on the good old churros with spiced chocolate. Yep, spiced chocolate! It was just the right amount of flavour to complement the churros, which weren’t as sweet as I expected, and I simply devoured this combination.


With the expert staff that made sure I wouldn’t have to wait long between my courses and the splendid bartender who kept my glass full is just a couple of the plus points of the restaurant. The authentic food and the team who trained with Chef Javier gave me the Spanish twist that I came looking for. If you’re looking for a night where you get to have some quiet time in a romantically lit restaurant that won’t but a dent in your wallet, you should certainly give El Faro a try. ✤