Restaurant Review: La Varenne

10 Mar 2013

A hidden gem at the top of an office tower in West Bay

It may come as a surprise when we tell you that Tornado Tower is home to a fab little restaurant serving up the most authentically delicious French cuisine from foie gras and French onion soup to steak frites and beef pot au feu. But there it is, on the 28th floor of one of Doha’s most iconic commercial towers, and we must say, it’s well worth a visit.

The food may well be typically French but the décor is a far shout from a little brasserie on a street corner in gay Paris. We’re talking a bright purple and orange colour scheme, pop art on the walls and leather upholstered banquet seats – one of which we slip into and take in the awesome views across the city from all the way up there. We even spot an enormous pink heart at the entrance that we are told is a genuine Damien Hirst – wowzers!

As we’re here for lunch, it seems only right to go for the special express lunch menu that’s QR85 for two courses or QR95 for three; an a la carte menu is available too. Mushroom soup and slow cooked leg of lamb take my fancy and, as someone who struggles to say no to pud, it has to be the Paris-Brest for dessert.

The executive chef isn’t French but has trained under Gordon Ramsay and Michael Caines so we have high hopes for this meal.

The service is slick and friendly and before long my mushroom soup arrives at the table looking exactly as you would expect.  And, I’m pleased to report, it actually tastes way better than I would have thought a simple soup ever could. A little word of warning though, this is not a starter for those who like to keep it healthy. It tastes amazing which no doubt comes at a price, namely the price of plenty of naughty ingredients like cream, butter and more cream. But hey, this is seriously worth a trip to the gym.

I don’t normally order lamb but I’m glad I did when I was there. It’s tasty, succulent and cooked to perfection.

By the time dessert arrives at the table, I’m having a serious case of my eyes being bigger than my stomach and I can’t help thinking I wish I’d just gone for the two course option. Then I tuck into the crispy pastry of the Paris-Brest and that thought, along with my calorie counting for the day, are put to the very back of my mind.

All I can say is thank goodness Ahlan! Qatar HQ isn’t located in Tornado Tower as I’m not sure I’d be able to resist a quick lift ride to La Varenne every day which, given my total lack of willpower when it comes to yummy food and tasty desserts, would be a complete disaster for my skinny jeans!

Tomato and aubergine tart QR30
Veal escalope QR90
Chocolate Fondant QR35
Total: QR155

Seafood salad  QR60
Bouillabaisse QR130
Desserts trolley QR55

INFO: Open Sunday to Thursday, 7am to 10.30am and 12pm to 3.30pm; La Varenne, 4499 0680,