An Ariel Moment: Al Dana Restaurant, Sharq Village & Spa Review
All clad in my striped dress whose front slit I think is too high, I put on and then removed a couple of delicate jewelries as I decided less is more, wore my cropped trench over, and managed to do a quick Zomato check on Al Dana Restaurant to assure I was appropriately dressed. This was not the first time I'd see this place, though. The beach at Sharq Village & Spa was the background of the first yoga class I've been to, the one hosted by Oysho. The mere 60-minute yoga class which was followed by a healthy breakfast however didn't allow for further perambulation — you can imagine what dog-tired calves I had — and only urged me to immediately head back home.
Little did I know then, Sharq Village & Spa carries ten dining locales in one luxurious, commodious place that casts you back to the old, traditional Arabic village with its architecture and ambiance, inspired by the aforementioned. One of which is Al Dana Restaurant, an oceanfront restaurant that offers seafood and Mediterranean cuisine. Alongside that is C Lounge, an outdoor lounge with a spectacular view of the sea and Doha's urban landscape in the background.
We decided everything is set, Kim and I, and that we are ready to go. A few taps on the LED-backlit screen later, the Careem chauffeur already had his hazard lights on outside our apartment so as to tell prospective park-ers: just give me a minute, I'll be leaving in a sec, too.
"Sharq Village, please."
And off we went, a little curious about what's yet to unravel. It entailed us a mere 20-minute (or less) commute, and as we arrived — while I was mentally mastering the art of getting off the car without pulling off a Britney Spears circa 2011 — the doormen were instantly reaching for the car door, greeting us "Good evening, ma'am," as they bid us welcome.
As we entered the door, a floor-to-ceiling aquarium welcomed us and on the right was the lady who actually received us. She showed us around the place, brought us to an upscale seafood and vegetable market where you can find the freshest seafood and greens that they, in fact, serve and the open kitchen (not pictured) on view to all guests.
She then directed us towards our table; somewhere in the corner, with only the floor-to-ceiling window setting us apart from the alfresco area, lending us a good view of C Lounge and the city night sky.
I let my head run through the place, 360 degrees for a couple of seconds and mentally surveyed the weekend scene at Al Dana Restaurant. We got there around 7:15 pm on a Saturday. And if it's true that during the weekends are when people choose to dine out, Al Dana is missing out for real. Considering the spacious expanse of the restaurant, I could say it was 20% occupied, so to speak.
Well, as much as I can remember, there was one couple on a date, in obvious celebration of his birthday with that cool, scene-stealing cake sparkler arriving to their table; a bevy of Hijabi ladies on a Saturday night-out in a form of a seafood festival; a family of three plus, what appeared to me is the mom's mom visiting Doha for the whole duration of the upcoming week; a large group of middle-aged men dining alfresco; add two more occupied tables including ours and that's it.
Or perhaps I have only missed the rest as I was immediately handed the menu by our very amiable attendant. Throughout the eight-course dinner, he was constantly checking on our thoughts about the dish in a way that's not vexing — in fact, really nicely — and slightly educating us about the ingredients that make for that particular dish. If anything, he surely knows their creation.
Somehow, we managed to touch on the fact that beneath the apron and necessary paraphernalia to enforce hygiene, what he was wearing was a pair of jeans and Converse. No uniforms, no nothing. That sounds so off-topic, but the main idea here is that, Al Dana Restaurant offers quality food and exclusive environment — that's a given — but maintains a friendly and very casual atmosphere.
That, for me, is a big bonus.
"With all these hunger-inducing dish briefs in front of me, how on earth would I be able to select one for myself — considering my indecisive disposition?" I thought to myself as I gave the menu the once-over.
Chef Evangelos, Al Dana's Chef de Cuisine, however spared us the indecisiveness-induced struggle and let us immerse in the real culture of Al Dana Restaurant with the special menu he curated for us. If there's anything I have learned that night, that was Chef Evangelos' specialty is not, after all, a dish. It's the above-and-beyond hospitality he implements alongside the gustatory delights he specially and artfully creates for Al Dana.
From our conversation, I have concluded that the excellent food and service at Al Dana can be broken down to three major factors: 1) the presentation of each dish is artfully thought of and executed, 2) they only serve real food, 3) they tailor the taste of the dish to the guest's preference, giving them an entirely bespoke dining experience.
And from our firsthand account, I bear witness to exactly that. If this is anything to go by, I felt like a princess — much more fitting perhaps is Ariel from The Little Mermaid since we're somewhere in the oceanic tone — during the dinner and beyond. I have nothing but good words about the quality of food and ambiance offered by Al Dana.
Food-wise, I would go into detail if I could, but I have no confidence in my food writing skills. Instead, I suggest you to do three things, too: 1) scroll down, 2) list these dishes (don't you dare forget about the deconstructed black forest — it's so yum!!!!!!!) down in a notepad of some sort and lastly, 3) proceed to order them in your next visit at Al Dana Restaurant, PRONTO. I can guarantee these are the crème de la crème and you'll reach home endlessly prosing on what a kickass dinner you've just had (take your cue from me.)
HOW TO GET THERE.
LILMISSBIANCA was a guest of Al Dana Restaurant in Sharq Village & Spa, all photos and views are my own. [no-sidebar]