Review: Paper Moon (Umm Ghuwailina, Doha)

First off, I have to say that when I first moved to Doha, I kept asking around for good places to eat. That was before I found my legs, haha. During that time, several people told me that Paper Moon was a place to go. I heard them, but alas I never heeded them.

Lucky for me, I recently had the chance to take in an Iftar preview at Paper Moon hosted by Zomato. It was a great experience, and I enjoyed the food very much. I came back from a trip to Italy last week, so I thought I was going to be a harsh critic. But honestly, Paper Moon met or exceeded my expectations.

We started off with a “waterberry” cooler, which was a combination of watermelon, cranberry, lemon, and a sprig of mint. As with most juices in Doha, it was too sweet for my taste, likely because it was sweetened with sugar. I don’t think fresh juice needs to be sweetened with sugar, but I guess I am the only person in Doha who feels that way. I cut it with some water though, and it tasted great.

The appetizers were yummy. We were served some salmon tartare with avocado and cucumber, plates of deep fried calamari and zucchini, and an assortment of breads and sticks.

The salmon was exceptional, so good that I pretty much cleaned off everyone’s serving plate at the table. I did the same thing with the calamari. The zucchini was good too, but I noticed that several people were not excited about the calamari so I let them have the zucchini, haha.

Normally I’m not excited about calamari either, because in my experience it can easily be served overcooked. That was not the case here. It was PERFECTLY cooked, evidenced by the fact that I cleared off several serving plates of that too, haha. I wish everyone in the city cooked calamari this way.

I found the bread basket to be a good vehicle for the tartare, and felt like I ate the basket all on my own too, haha. The rolls were a little meh, but the rest of the breadbasket was exactly what I was looking for.

There was also a goat cheese and spinach salad. It had shaved mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and walnuts. It was a decent salad, and would be a fine complement to any of the meals served there.

For the next course, we were served grilled hammour with spinach, sliced cherry tomatoes, and lemon wedges. We were also served a stuffed chicken roll in mushroom sauce, accompanied by mashed potatoes.

I love hammour. I know it is an endangered fish, so I never order it when I’m out. But since it was already on the plate and there was nothing I could do about it, I ate two servings of it, haha. It was perfectly cooked. Maybe a tiny bit overcooked if anything, but not too much. With a spritz from the lemon, it went down easy.

The chicken roll was a little drier. The mushroom sauce was amazing, and helped to overcome the dryness of the roll. If I was dining a la carte, I would have asked for some more mushroom sauce so I could properly slather both my chicken roll and my mashed potatoes. The flavors were all there, it was just a little dry for my taste.

Next up was a pasta dish. House-made pappardelle and a cheesy tomato meat sauce. I’m sure there is a better name for it than that, haha, but I don’t have the menu in front of me right now.

It was probably my favorite dish. The pasta was absolutely perfect by my standards. It was done, but it still had a bite. In Italy, I actually had a couple of meals where I thought the pasta was underdone. But I was thinking, “hey, I’m in Italy. Who knows better than Italy when pasta is al dente?” Here, there was a still a bite, but it didn’t taste raw or starchy at all. This is comfort food right here, people. I’d totally get this again. I want it right now.

There was also a margherita pizza. I was very excited for the pizza because I saw how Paper Moon had a SERIOUS pizza oven. I thought for sure I had hit the jackpot. If you have read my other posts, you would know that I am on a quest for the perfect pizza in Doha.

Alas, my quest continues. It was better than most, to be fair. But with that awesome of a pizza oven, I was expecting a crispy thin crust, not a soggy thin crust. And there weren’t enough toppings on it to be to blame, since it was a margherita. Maybe it just needs a few more minutes in that glorious pizza oven? I dunno. The crust was promising, and the flavors were good, if just a little salty. But I can overlook that. It’s the crust I’m focused on. If they could just dial in that crust, this would be my pizza place. It was close, close, close. But in my fantasy, the tip needs to crunch as much as the crust end does.

By the time dessert rolled around, I was crying for mercy. But they didn’t grant me mercy. I ordered a cappuccino, which was perfect without sugar, and they brought out some tiramisu, some ice cream and sorbet, and a panna cotta surrounded by fresh berries. The panna cotta was tasty, with a strong vanilla flavor that went well with the berries. The ice creams and sorbets were all really good too (but honestly, I was food-fatigued at this point).

That being said, the tiramisu really stood out for me. It was, I kid you not, tastier to me than the same dish I had just eaten several times in Italy. I don’t know what it was, maybe the cake was just oversaturated with coffee and that’s what I’m into, or the cake was thinner and that’s what I’m into, or they didn’t put as much cream/frosting on top and that’s what I’m into. I dunno, but it was fantastic. I ignored the other desserts and went back to the tiramisu for a second dip.

On top of the food, the company provided by Zomato was divine and the conversation was stimulating. But that’s not Paper Moon’s problem. You have to handle that part on your own.

Overall, I highly recommend this place for Iftar as well as for a regular meal. All the people who recommended it to me when I first moved here were right. I’m usually a champion for the cheap hole in the wall places, so this recommendation should carry even more weight than most.

I’m not a sycophant, even though I did get a free meal here. I thought there was value in the food, which is not something I feel from a lot of hotel places. Paper Moon isn’t attached to a hotel, but it’s still affiliated. Either way, it was great. It at least deserves being checked out.

And if you only get two things, get that pasta, and get that tiramisu.

Noto Bene: You may also be interested to know that they have movie nights twice per week. Once in Monday (I think) and once on Wednesday (when we were dining). On Monday they play classic Italian movies, and on Wednesday they play Bond movies. Both on the terrace, weather permitting (and I am sure it is almost always permitting). I’d check the website to verify though.

RATED 5/5

Paper Moon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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