Derived from Peruvian roots, LA MAR by Gastón Acurio introduces Tarde Chévere every Friday at the beachfront of INTERCONTINENTAL DOHA. Craig Ferriman indulged in their special set lunch, featuring off-the-menu specials by none other than Chef Tomás De La Paz and we have complete food envy.
The entire experience of a visit to La Mar by Gastón Acurio is sublime. Every aspect of the restaurant is deeply considered from the look and feel of the aesthetics to the menu they serve through to the highly trained staff who wait upon you.
La Mar has restaurants in various cities but now Doha has added itself to that illustrious list. The site of the restaurant was built from scratch to a specification that chef, Gastón Acurio himself, the man behind La Mar, would approve of.
We entered through a heavy wooden door into a bright and airy atrium where the maître-d welcomed and escorted us to a table. Diners have the choice of sitting inside or out and while neither is necessarily better than the other, the option to dine al fresco definitely got our vote especially because the temperature permitted when we visited. Their acoustic band further provided an additional atmospheric backdrop alongside the tranquil beach view. That won’t be possible in the peak of summer but the floor-to-ceiling glass window frames let in plenty of light to the classy and modern dining room with high ceilings and minimalist décor to cater for the experience that is La Mar all year round.
The great benefit of an outdoor table was the feeling of being ostensibly on the beach. The view is stunning with the calm waves calmly meeting the shore and the architectural majesty of the iconic skyline in the far distance.
“Diners have the choice of sitting inside or out and while neither is necessarily better than the other, the option to dine al fresco definitely got our vote especially because the temperature permitted when we visited. Their acoustic band further provided an additional atmospheric backdrop alongside the tranquil beach view.”
Peruvian cuisine is fast developing a niche chic in the food world but there is no other competitor for it in Qatar offering an exclusively Peruvian menu. The brunch we went to was an excellent way to explore much of what they have to offer as a chef ’s set menu is presented with a kind of ‘greatest hits’ of the main a-la-carte menu sent out. We had a selection of appetizers and a couple of hot starters, a couple of entrees and a couple of desserts to share. The Nikkei ceviche is incredibly fresh and tastes divine. It’s a tuna tartare with avocado mousse, nori seaweed, wasabi tobiko and rocoto cream. Another cold starter allows a pallet gorge. Called mixto, it comprises the combination of the catch of the day with calamari, shrimp and octopus in rocoto leche de tigre. The back of the mouth is singing in flavour. Sensational seafood sushi rolls also add to the smorgasbord.
Indeed, it is that sharing mentality that is the Latin American way and I rather liked the table brimming with a multitude of different things to dip in and try.
My favourite appetizer awakened the pallet from any slumber it had been in. The chalaco is such an excellent slider of sumptuousness; fresh catch of the day, shrimp in rocoto leche de tigre with crispy calamari, choclo and sweet potatoes which reappear in numerous dishes across the menu.
There are things at this brunch that are just not offered on the daily a-la-carte menu so we really ‘lucked out’ with this. The sushi is a brunch special and so are the miniature fish burger sliders and empanadas.
Two mains are then placed on the table. The pollo which translates as chicken. On the dish are two anticuchera chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, buttered corn and chalaca. There is a bit of a kick to the chicken that gives it some spice and heat. The other main dish on the table is the meat eaters dream. It’s called Carne which quite literally means meat. We’re talking anticuchera tenderloin with chimichurri potatoes, buttered corn, carretillero sauce and chalaca.
Rather than two hefty desserts to work through at the end of the afternoon, two delicate pots are presented with light sweets to perfectly polish off the set menu. One was a lime cream, lime mousse, almond crumble with meringue and lime sorbet. In the other pot was a dulce de leche foam, vanilla ice cream, berries and crispy meringue. It was impossible to fault anything on the menu and the food was just so different to anything you can eat anywhere else around.
The staff are exceptionally well trained and at a far higher level than most others in the five-star restaurant category. They are knowledgeable about the food they serve, attentive to customers and friendly too. La Mar proved to exactly why it is multiple award winning. It’s a very special place to visit.