El Faro celebrates food with a selection of delectable tapas, and Hannah Nesbitt went there to check it out.
El Faro, located in the prestige surroundings of Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl – Doha, offers an immersive experience, taking you on a journey through the vibrant flavours of Hispanic cuisine. This renowned tapas bar is the perfect destination to indulge in an array of tantalising treats meticulously designed to showcase the rich and diverse flavours of the region.
The delicatessen counter is the newest addition to the restaurant, where diners are able to select their own cuts of thinly sliced cured meats and traditional Spanish cheeses to be consumed at one’s own leisure within the restaurant or to take away, this concept captures the essence of authentic Spanish cuisine.
There are options for both indoor and outdoor seating, with the outdoor terrace offering views across the turquoise sea whilst the warm sun gently sets, allowing you to transport your senses and imagine you are dining at an Argentinian seaside resort. And the indoor seating enjoys bright and colourful sights and sounds, reflecting the vibrant culture and spirit of Latin America. The lighting and Spanish music set the scene for the food to follow.
The first dish made its entrance in a traditional terracotta pot; inside, a Latin American favourite, ceviche. A small, delicate stack of fresh, white snapper marinated in citrus flavours and crowned with avocado and a sprig of aromatic coriander. A side of crispy plantain chips provided the combination of crunch with the smooth, tasty fish, which made for a light and refreshing starter.
The tapas culture has long been regarded as a communal, family-style way of eating, with small dishes of meats, fish and cheeses shared by friends. Whilst sitting at the oversized carved tree trunk table, we were surprised when the vast spread of tapas offerings took over the space. With each dish that was laid out and the detailed description of the ingredients used, the eyes and taste buds alike were eager to begin enjoying the flavourful savouries. Bowls, baskets and boards adorning the table were filled with so much food, suitable for sharing, dipping and savouring each bite.
Two of the standout favourites from the tapas spread were the calamari, with a light, yet crispy batter, coating the tender rings of seafood, and the grilled shishito peppers and raspberry vinaigrette. The surprisingly sweet peppers gave off a mild heat and combined well with the fruitiness of the vinaigrette.
The yellow Peruvian chilli dip was a great accompanying dipping sauce for many of the dishes, such as the croquettes. With three varieties available (cheese, short rib and mushroom), there is sure to be one to suit your palate.
For those who favour meat dishes, we tried two tantalising options: the chicken Pintxo and beef Anticuchos, delicious skewers, best enjoyed sizzling hot, with flame-grilled flavours and charred edges, topped with fiery red chillies. The chicken thigh had been selected specifically for this dish as it is regarded to be the most tender cut and was further enhanced by its 24-hour marinating process.
A tapas bar favourite was the true show-stopper, the culinary cousin of the traditional Spanish Paella, the striking Arroz Negro. The black squid ink contrasting with the white of fragrant garlic aioli was further enhanced by the dramatic langoustine, juicy king prawns and shell-on mussels.
Desserts were a showcase of Latin American classics, served as a trio of cheesecake, churros and Tres Leche cake, each with its own varied flavours and textures. No Latin feast would be complete without the sugary, cinnamon goodness of a bowl of churros. The bitesize doughnut-shaped treats were cooked to perfection, with a golden crispy exterior and a light, fluffy interior, just the right size for dunking into a velvety bowl of rich chocolate sauce. The Tres Leche or ‘three milk cake’ was both rich and creamy, topped with a fluffy, swirled meringue. Giving the baked cheesecake an elevated, Spanish twist was the freshly grated Manchego cheese (straight from the deli counter), lovingly sprinkled on top. This gave a great combination of sweet and savoury.
The bright and vibrant flavours of the dishes, paired with the friendliness of the staff, made for a truly adventurous journey through a range of classics.