Sanaa Choudry discovered the tastes and textures of Spain at Lobito De Mar.
‘We bring all the flavour of the sea in every dish.’ This is the promise from Lobito De Mar and it’s one they certainly keep. The second offering in Doha by renowned chef, Dani García, they have one aim: to offer customers fresh Spanish seafood from the most select fish markets, together with the best paella recipes from Andalusia. Like its Marbella sister, the Doha restaurant is perfectly situated at Marsa Malaz Kempinski, nestled on the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Bringing the freshness of the seashore to the urban jungle, this casual beach restaurant, located on the ground floor, is airy and bright boasting crisp decor and comfortable white seating with brass-style ceiling lamps and fishermen’s netting. Subtle maritime hues and textures can be found all around reflecting the essence of the seafood menu.
On entering, we are immediately greeted by Lubnah, who seats us on the terrace to overlook the breath-taking views. Of Moroccan descent but having grown up in Spain, she has been raised eating the most authentic Spanish cuisine and we trust her to devise a menu of the best courses. The sun perched high in the sky on a perfect Saturday afternoon, we whet our palates with refreshing mocktails. However, they are not presented in any old cup. Two tall tiki chalices arrive (swiftly adding to the fun of a delicious drink in the sun). I order the Palm Spring. A delightful mixture of creamy coconut, fresh tart lemon juice and earthy basil, quickly followed with a Loo Maniac, which is a concoction of lime tea, orange juice and passion fruit syrup.
Palates quenched, we’re ready for the first course: Porterhouse Tuna Carpaccio. Succulently satisfying, this appetiser of thinly sliced raw tuna is drizzled with the finest Arbequina olive oil – adding a harmonious sweetness to the dish – and served with warm bread. Lubnah explains that whilst Spain is often recognised for its tapas, this is, in fact, only a small part of the rich and extensive cuisine. Southern Spain boasts some of the best tuna in the world and here we are, lucky enough to devour the finest import. We’re advised to save the fatty part until the end as it is the richest in taste, and it lives up to all expectations! Bursting with flavour and melting in the mouth, the tuna carpaccio is an elegant appetiser that serves as the perfect introduction to Spanish flavours.
We also sample a few dishes from Dani Garcia’s other restaurant Bibo, located on the top floor, including the excellent Ceviche de Lubina – a Dani Garcia signature – the freshness of the sea bass accentuated by the mild heat of the Aji Amarillo pepper to render this South American staple a slightly sweet and spicy triumph.
Next on the menu is a sizzling plate of Gambas Al Ajillo, otherwise known as shrimp, cloaked in garlic-infused olive oil and delicately sprinkled with smoky hints of paprika. The ideal tapas bar snack, the sweet shrimp is bursting with savoury juices from the marination whilst the toasted bread is perfect for mopping up the leftover oils that crackle and hiss in the earthenware dish. Just like the tuna carpaccio, the success of this dish lies in its simplicity. Serving as a delectable companion to the juicy prawns is the oxtail brioche, a carnivore’s delight. The brioche boasts layers of pulled oxtail meat, nestled between sweet buns and generously drizzled with a tantalising ‘special sauce.’
Meanwhile, vegetarians can indulge in the Aguacate a la Brasa, a crowd-pleaser featuring charred avocado adorned with a sprinkle of sour cream and feta cheese. A lover of simplicity and refinery, I find myself most excited to tuck into the Tortilla de Patata. However, this Spanish omelette is unlike any I’ve ever tasted before. A quintessential dish in Spanish gastronomy, the potato omelette holds a special place, with each chef infusing their unique twist. Renowned for his innovative culinary style, Chef Dani García has successfully reimagined this traditional favourite in a distinctive and delightful manner. What sets Dani García’s potato omelette apart is its singular approach: the omission of onions. According to the chef, this exclusion eliminates sweetness, allowing the exceptional flavour of the potatoes to shine. The result is a harmonious blend where the potatoes take centre stage, achieving a velvety interior texture that pairs perfectly with the eggs.
But what is Spanish cuisine without paella? The centrepiece of the occasion features enormous pans filled with aromatic, glossy and perfectly cooked rice along with the delightful crackle of socarrat – the crusty, crunchy layer at the base of the paella – that resonates like music for any food enthusiast. This isn’t your typical overcooked rice mound; this is the authentic experience. The seafood paella is studded with succulent prawns, elevating the culinary delight even further.
The savoury dishes thus far have been a success, how about the desserts? To begin with, we are showcased a tarte de queso, a Basque-style cheesecake, but with a unique twist. Unlike the traditional sweet version, this one leans more towards savoury, presenting a delicate, custard-like cake with a nutty biscuit base.
The finishing touch includes a generous shaving of manchego, creating a heavenly experience for cheese enthusiasts. Not to be outdone, the flan de huevo is silky smooth and perfectly creamy, topped with a decadent layer of homemade caramel. In other words, a classic favourite that is done just right.
Lobito De Mar sets a new benchmark for seafood, placing emphasis on top-notch ingredients in every dish. In just one afternoon, I am delighted to acquaint myself with the finest Spanish cuisine in Qatar, where quality produce takes centre stage. ✤
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