With a recent revamp, the beautiful Al Jalsa Garden at InterContinental Doha The City is one of the city’s most popular al fresco spots to enjoy in the winter season. FACT’s Craig Ferriman dropped by for pure chills and delic ious food…

Nestled in the inner-cube of the imposing InterContinental Doha The City skyscraper in the city centre, is a courtyard that is home to Al Jalsa Garden Lounge. It has quickly earned a reputation as well as a strong and loyal following. It was my second visit to the venue this year and I was pleasantly pleased to see how busy it was, and yet it didn’t feel noisy or overcrowded. The best thing about it was surely that we could sit outside. If you’re worried about getting chilly on these cold winter nights, fear not, there are patio heaters so no need to wear thermals! It was like walking into an Arabic living room inspired by the style of Moroccan lounges where you can sit casually with shisha or choose from the wide selection of hot and cold dishes.

There are conventional tables and chairs or you can snuggle into one of the closed off squares with the Arabicstyle settees with cushions. The atmosphere is great; it’s dark but not too dark and there are subtle features that add to the ambience like water fountains and a mini river coursing through the middle of the ‘garden lounge’ with a cute bridge that you have to cross.

This place is a great blend of outdoor simplicity and Gulf opulence. Each table is always filled with food while you sit relaxed ensconced in cushions on comfortable seating, feeling the light breeze brush past you. The food was amazing. Dishes that you may see a hundred or more times are cooked to a particularly high standard with simple but effective seasoning and quality produce is assured. Their soups are not a rushed appetiser, but a tasty treat to tickle the taste buds and guaranteed winter warmers. Try the lentil soup – it’s divine.

The cold mezze is utterly excellent with the tangy baba ganoush and ample hummuos, moutabel, fattoush and kebbeh. How often do you see these things on a menu, but honestly, this is many times better than your average! Their breads are very good too. If, like me, you love your sambusek, then you won’t be disappointed by their meat and cheese sambusek. I couldn’t get enough. The sauteed prawns marinated in garlic, lemon and tomato sauce were a worthwhile choice too. Order the mixed grill and you’ll be served a tremendous platter of chicken shish taouk, grilled meat and tasty lamb chops – a true carnivorous feast to satisfy all your cravings.

The dessert can be quite the climax to the menu, and your evening, with a range of Arabic sweets  but the traditional umm ali cooked with honey is sumptuous to say the least. Or if you don’t think you have room for anything sweet, you can just chill with an impressively wide and sophisticated selection of shisha flavours.  Al Jalsa Garden Lounge is open for an express lunch, a business meeting with tea and light snacks, or an evening with food and drink in a great setting to just chill. We’ll be back really soon!