The latest opening on The Pearl-Qatar, Urban Jazz Kitchen, officially opened to great fanfare last week. Hailed as a mix between eclectic food and soulful music it sounds like the perfect place to spend an evening.
Qatar Eating was invited to sample the food and take a look around Doha’s newest Jazz venue. Here are our thoughts about the restaurant, the music and most importantly the food.
Urban Jazz Kitchen has some fantastic outdoor spaces including the outdoor terrace which is the highlight of the venue. They have utilised all their available space to make some lovely nooks for a more private experience. The jazz decor elements can be seen everywhere from the wall murals created by graffiti artist Sudalove to the jazz paraphernalia within the venue.
The interior design is beautifully interesting and will definitely be catching the attention of diners. It has a cool vibe as a cafe with industrial birdcage-style lighting, funky chairs and a centrally-located open kitchen.
However, there isn’t much internal seating which may be an issue in the hotter months when sitting outside is not an option. And as a restaurant it is too casual in its chair-to-table ratio which can make dining comfortably an awkward experience.
The Pearl-Qatar’s personable and friendly Corporate F&B Director, Chef Luca Brambilla, visualises Urban Jazz Kitchen as not just a restaurant, but as destination. Chef Luca highlighted the “menu as something simple but well-researched…we try to create this menu easy for tapas with little appetisers, with some salad, we have homemade burgers. We try to create ambience, where the people can enjoy, with friends and family with live jazz music and enjoy the environment of the The Pearl.” And there is no doubt about the happening appeal of the venue, the decor, and its live Jazz Band.
However, Qatar Eating had received mixed feedback from fellow foodies and readers about the quality of the food and service which we put to Chef Luca – “Most probably they were here on Thursday, our first day of operation. Me and my team want to apologise to our customers that were not happy but it was our first day and something went a litle bit out of our control.
There was more than 220 guests present in the restaurant, and this restaurant is not done for this number of people. We are starting to work with reservation, everybody will be served at the table, received at the door…to give more attention to our cusomer. We try to do our best and we are happy to tell to everybody who was there that night please come back again and we will do our best to make you happy.”
The Foodie Offerings at Urban Jazz Kitchen
Urban Jazz Kitchen’s menu comes stylised as a LP record (points for extending the music theme to the menu). It is presented simply and truly is an eclectic selection of items covering Asian, European and Middle Eastern options. Although we haven’t tried their vegetarian options, the choices are limited.
Diners at the event were given a selection of items from across their menu to try, whilst we all sat in the outside terrace enjoying the great live jazz.
The Chicken Lollypop was good but only in comparison to the other appetisers (Caprese Salad, Exotic Salad and Caesar Salad) which were bland and insipid. The mains seemed to have a sizing crisis – the Mini Burger Trio was too large a serving, whilst the Lamb Shank was too small and lacked depth of flavour.
Taking a look inside the burgers was disappointing, with inconsistency in the lettuce and tomatoes – one burger had a slither of tomato whilst the other had a thick chunk. We tried the Chicken Burger which was average and lacked flavour and unfortunately doesn’t live up to the quality we would expect from a venue on The Pearl. Quite frankly, there are better burgers (in flavour and price) to be found elsewhere on The Pearl.
It is always difficult to review a newly-opened restaurant – how far can a new venue be evaluated when expectations are high but opening problems are always a given. It can be argued that you should give it some time before you give a definitive review as the restaurant has only just opened – that it needs some time to settle in, and to take on board customer feedback and resolve any concerns or issues. But once you start accepting diners and charging full price you should expect to give a good customer experience.
We really do like the venue, its vibe and its potential, but we couldn’t recommend the food – many friends and fellow foodies have already asked about our experience and that is where we stand at the moment.
As an evening out it ticks some boxes: it really is a fantastic location on The Pearl for spending a balmy desert evening and enjoying the music. It has waterside views and on a clear night the iconic Doha skyline adds to the ambience. But the most important box, the food, cannot be ticked. As a restaurant it needs more work on the menu, consistency, and flavours.
We are really hoping that Urban Jazz Kitchen takes on board the feedback about food and manages to bring its dining experience to the same level as its musical experience – fingers crossed!
Urban Jazz Kitchen is located at 10 La Croisette, Porto Arabia.
It is open from 12.00pm until 12.00am. The Jazz Band plays six days a week from 7.00pm until 11.00pm with breaks.