Craig Ferriman finds that some things change but others stay the same at this long-time favourite.
The Cellar has always been a stellar stalwart of reliable food and drink in Doha. It gladly remains so in the recently rebadged Hyatt Regency Oryx. Though the name and the management may be new, many things haven’t changed. The Cellar is a mainstay and it’s maintained its popularity with enduring appeal. Low lighting, bottles lining the shelves, decorating the walls and adding to that cavernous vibe make it look like a cellar. It draws you in and takes you away from the hectic mania of the world outside. As we took our seats, we were immediately made comfortable with a drink and toasted bread with garlic on the side, which we were invited to rub onto the toast, as well as a delicious tomato salsa. We also had a small plate of Manchego cheese and olives. My taste buds were stimulated for the dishes to follow.
First up were the Gambas a la Marsala which was a bowl of five large king prawns in a balanced bath of marsala sauce, tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts. It was full of flavour. Unlike in Spain, cod is not an everyday fish here, but we ate the codfish on the menu which was grilled beautifully, and the flakes of fish split apart as they should. The accompanying olive, caper and tomato sauce was excellent and transported us to the Mediterranean.
The runaway highlight was the sea bass. It was cooked just right and served with side plates of potatoes, green olives, tomatoes and onions. The blend of flavours worked so well together, and we will be having this dish again. Portion sizes were perfect and, for me, that’s so important.
Too often, restaurants serve too much and you leave feeling uncomfortably full. But by the same token, if the servings are too light, you can resent spending a lot only to eat a little in return. The Cellar gets it spot on. I avoid eating chicken when I go out thinking that I can cook it better, but not here.
The baby chicken cooked in a roasted garlic mash and parsley was superb. Of all the meat options, we’d have to implore any visitor to The Cellar to try the oxtail stew. Not an everyday thing, but it uses veal and the finished product with a creamy mashed potato is the perfect warm tonic on a winter’s evening. The lamb chops were superbly seasoned and cooked to order. All desserts are traditional Spanish delights, but the glutinous churros are a real winner. They sit, long and criss-crossed on the plate with chocolate sauce and a side dip of vanilla cream. Despite being there on a weeknight, the place was thriving with the comings and goings of regulars which was an encouraging thing to see.
The Cellar is definitely worth a visit. We found a good buzz in there. It all too often upsets us when there are restaurants that feel desolate and devoid of customers but, even on a weeknight, we found a steady stream of happy diners, many of whom, I got the impression, are frequent visitors.
For reservations and more information, please call The Cellar on 4141 1234. @hyattregencyoryxdoha