A MEATY AFFAIR

Carnivores alert! Ailsa Whyatt spends a delightful evening at Hunters Room & Grill at The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa and shares her dining experience with us.

I do love steak. It’s one of life’s great pleasures, especially when this pleasure involves a trip to Hunters Room & Grill at The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa. New on the Doha food scene, Hunters’ Chef de Cuisine Roberto Guerrero has wasted no time in launching a set menu grounded in his Venezuelan roots. Hot lemongrass towels refresh us whilst Roberto proudly brings forth the steak trolley, talking us through the cuts.

A great steak is a trademark of Hunters. The Black Onyx Collection hails from a single farm in Australia and is crucially 100% Angus beef throughout, which means you can have your favourite steak time and again, knowing that it will always be good. High-grade cuts are paraded in front of us and we marvel at the marble. The fat melts into the meat as it is cooked, producing the fullest of flavours and softest of textures. There’s also a range of à la carte offerings and the all-important set menu, with which we are about to be on first-name terms.

Hot on Roberto’s heels is Silvanus, a proud purveyor and producer of drinks. His trolley is laden with an array of glasses, botanicals, garnishes, spritzers and Silvanus’ new ‘flavour blaster’ , which produces a perfectly formed bubble of smoke that pops as it hits the contents of your glass. It’s such fun and his concoctions are delicious.

Roberto is back in a flash with our starters. So recent was its conception that the Surf & Turf appetiser hasn’t even made it onto the menu yet. Never fear, dear reader, it will be there by the time you visit, and I implore you to try this dish. A showstopping, live cooking dish in which Wagyu tenderloin, seasoned and marinated in olive oil, is blow-torched in front of our very eyes, topped with some delicately grilled scallops.

The dish comes sizzling to the table on its own grill, with a confit of roasted cherry tomatoes and a beef sauce. It is crowned with a black squid-ink tuile in the shape of a doily, delicately decorated with beads of tomato emulsion and micro-herbs. The tomatoes burst with flavour and the Wagyu beef is tender and meaty. The tuile has a gentle crunch, giving it a wonderful complementary texture, and the scallops, well frankly, I’ll do anything for scallops, so I’m quietly wondering if I should leave now as surely this meal cannot get any better. But there is more. Much more.

The Tomato Tartare appears, heirloom tomatoes full of smoky flavours and accompanied by a very creamy mozzarella di bufala mousse, surrounded by more tomatoey goodness. Miniscule curls of courgette are lifted by shreds of pickled onions and a zesty lime dressing. We also try the Salmon Acevichado, a dish that is ‘eaten outside on benches in Venezuela’ according to Roberto. The salmon is cured with beetroot and orange for 12 hours and is served with a special tiger milk sauce made from the cooked juices of a grouper fish, green droplets of dill-infused olive oil, smoked chilli oil and crumbled tapioca crackers. The salmon is meltingly soft, the tiger milk has hints of lemon and the herbs and crackers produce not only fresh and new flavours but add colour to this beautiful dish.

It’s time to indulge in our mains, the Black Asado & Mango and Churrasco. Black Asado is a Tajima Wagyu short rib, slowly cooked in sous vide (a method of cooking in which the meat is vacuum-sealed and immersed in warm water) for 15 hours. There’s no burning or smoking involved; it’s purely cooked to reabsorb colour and flavour, giving the meat its black exterior. It is served in a monochrome presentation on a black plate with a creamy black squid-ink mash and a rather intriguing napkinshaped, smoked eggplant. It’s like an edible black paper serviette, along with a mango confit and pickled caramelised onions for sweetness. This dish is striking, soft and one of a kind.

Our mains crescendo with the Churrasco, a perfect medium rare piece of Angus flank steak. This sweet and nutty delight provides an anchor for the wonderfully rich gravy. The grilled broccoli melts like a crisp in the mouth with confit leek and a fresh yet unimposing broccoli chimichurri. The spectacular flavours of blue cheese and truffle warm the dish and complement the cashew purée; yes, you heard right! For me, it stole the show. I would eat this again and again and then some more if I could.

We close our meal with an Apple Crumble with vanilla ice cream whilst enjoying a Rusty Nail drink from Silvanus. Granny Smith apples and cinnamon are the trademark of this crunchy-topped crumble, served with a quenelle of vanilla ice cream, atop which rests a gorgeously crafted hexagonal honeycomb tuile.

Hunters is undeniably a premium and delicious offering for steak lovers, which is reason enough to visit. However, I urge you to go there not just for steak, because there is so much more to enjoy. Its warming comfort food straight from Venezuela and the perfect ‘something sweet’ on which we end the finest of dining sums up the experience. Chef Roberto has an eye for detail, a flare for ingenuity and a hearty welcome that leaves me feeling as if I were visiting him at his home in Venezuela. I shall return!

For more information or to make a reservation, please call Hunters Room & Grill at The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa at 3359 8514.
@hunters.doha
@westindoha

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