A selection of Arabic-infused dishes is what Hannah Nesbitt tried at Al Sultan Brahim at Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel.
Al Sultan Brahim is a family-established restaurant which was first opened in Lebanon in 1961. It has expanded over the years to add five different locations, including Kuwait and here in Doha. As the winner of this year’s prestigious Fact Dining Awards Qatar Best Lebanese Restaurant, I was keen to try out their menu.
Featuring a private elevator connecting directly from the Sheraton’s main foyer, this exceptional triangular establishment offers a top-floor setting. Boasting two walls with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, the location allows for panoramic views across The Corniche.
The seating arrangement combines window seats and elevated central seating, all beneath the umbrella of the magnificent crystal chandelier. Taking centre stage, at the head of the establishment, is the remarkable fish counter, where a vast array of freshly caught fish of the day is beautifully displayed on ice. Guests have the option of personally selecting their preferred fish based on weight, ranging from local hamour to lobster or substantially sized scallops.
The modern design of the restaurant is sleek and well-lit and incorporates sandy tones to mirror the environment around us; vibrant bursts of colour are provided by the numerous large plants and even large potted basil and mint. The vibrant ‘living’ walls add to the ‘outdoors-indoors’ concept. The gentle tones of the background music playing traditional Arabic instruments add to the ambience of the evening.
The restaurant specialises in traditional Lebanese dishes, including salads, cold and hot mezze appetisers, grills and desserts. The small mezze appetiser dishes are perfect for sharing and a great way to try the many different options available. To reflect the casual and relaxing social event of sharing a mezze in Lebanon, we began with a classic favourite, hummus. Whilst many may have tasted hummus with meat, on this occasion, the Hummus Awarma Fish had replaced the lamb with cubes of sauteed fish sprinkled with toasted pine seeds and olive oil.
Alongside this flavourful dish, we had steaming hot, puffy pita bread, which was perfect for tearing open and scooping up the smooth and creamy hummus and succulent fish combination.
The Bizri Fish Salad was a surprising option with its intriguing presentation. On first glance, its main ingredients were not initially apparent. The dish was, in fact, topped with generous portions of crispy fried bizri fish. Similar to whitebait, this tiny fish was fried whole, adding a crunchy bite and a touch of saltiness, accompanied by the shredded lettuce, finely diced tomato and cucumber salad. Mint leaves added to the Middle Eastern flavour combinations. To further complement and combine all the savouriness and add a subtle zesty touch, the tarator dressing was skilfully mixed throughout by our waiter. The dressing itself is a tahini-based sauce infused with a touch of lemon and garlic.
The crab salad presented shredded strands of crab stick, resembling spaghetti, wound into a mound, and dressed with its special spicy sauce, which added an additional kick of flavour.
Two additional ocean delights came in the form of the Shrimp a la Provençale and Octopus a la Provençale. The large, juicy shrimp were served warm in a brass pot, whilst the chunky and tender pieces of octopus were enhanced by the sweet tomato dressing with the additional flavours of fresh garlic and fragrant coriander adding an aromatic, Mediterranean twist to the evening’s offerings.
The highlight, for me, was the skilfully filleted hamour, selected from the fish counter and served with a juicy lemon wedge. This locally caught fish, known for its tender and flaky texture, had been expertly prepared and cooked to perfection. Its everso slightly golden hue and chunks of meat with an additional burst of lemon juice were a flavourful and satisfying end to the meal and accompanying mezze selection.
To conclude our feast in authentic Middle Eastern fashion, an Arabic sweet arrived featuring the beloved Basbousa cake. This dessert incorporates the moistness of a semolina cake, soaked in a sweet syrup and topped with a whole almond. In addition to this, a platter of watermelon and sweet melon was a light and refreshing end to this meal.
The Lebanese-inspired culinary traditions showcased by the selection of seafood on offer encompassed an array of cooking techniques. The welcoming nature of the staff and outstanding surroundings offered a great space to enjoy a meal; whether you’re dining with friends and family or business colleagues, the establishment provides a great space to enjoy a meal together whilst savouring the delicious and traditional flavours.