Come on, let’s head to a romantic dinner at a restaurant called “Flying Carpet”. As fellow fans of Fantasy what do you picture when you hear that name?

Let’s put it in an Urban context. Urban Fantasy. The restaurant is not on a real flying carpet (more’s the pity) but one floor of a hotel in a big city.

shot for you today: Torch Hotel in Doha. You can see the (few) stories through the transparent "skin" of the hotel

shot for you today: Torch Hotel in Doha. You can see the (few) stories through the transparent “skin” of the hotel

If I sent my characters there for a romantic dinner, I’d envision them eating sitting on the floor, parked on sumptious cushions. They’d have their own “private” carpet with a low rustic table in the middle. Since the hotel is expensive, I’d put only five or six of such carpets in the large room. The atmosphere would be 1001 nights-romantic, a tad dark, a tad heavy with incense and spices, soft drums would play live in a corner or from hidden speakers. The interior design would look styled by Inara, famous companion from Firefly. ;-)

 

The food comes in small portions, gorgeous (of course), and always meant to be shared. Tea and coffee are free-flowing and add their enticing scents to the air. Mint with green tea and honey, sweet black tea, coffee with cardamom are served in delicate clay cups and you look into the eyes of your sweetheart while you sip the hot brew.

One more thing before we compare my flight of fancy to the real “Flying Carpet” -restaurant in Doha.

If you opened a restaurant called “Flying Carpet” in a hotel that is famous for having a “hollow” core, apart from the pole in the middle that houses the elevators — what would be a cool idea?

Exactly. ;o) In such a building, you’d have the one-in-a-million chance of really offering your guests the impression of dining on a “flying carpet”!

They’d eat sitting on the cushions and lean over to gaze over the side of the carpet to the “depths” below. You could install one-way glass or a fake floor underneath with good tromp l’oeil painting, so no-one down in the lobby could look under skirts. Guests would be led to their private carpet over a narrow “trod” of colored glass to make the illusion more  real. When you sit on your carpet, you can lean over the side and look to the lobby twelve meters ((my guess)) below you.  Wheee.

Let’s do the reality check.

Since this is Doha, Qatar, I learned to hold my happy imagination in check. ;-) As one friend put it on Facebook recently: “I’ve learned to way lower my expectations. I lived in Qatar for years, after all.” (not a verbatim quote, just from memory)

So when I prepared for our romantic date (the first for my husband and me in a long time #kiddies #movingabroad), I checked photos and descriptions of the restaurant through Google search.

wedding_bouquet_brida_anderson.jpg

That’s us tossing the bouquet back and forth at our wedding. Both not exactly the born ball-athletes ;o)

 

Strange: They’re in a huge hotel here in Doha which prides itself on being a high-end tourist spot. And yet their website runs on a free WordPress site, without giving their phone number. %-) Found it through Tripadvisor instead.

Plus-side: I left a message through Facebook to book a table — and received a reply in only 30 minutes.

So, how was the romantic excursion into 1001 night?

Well …

To get you in the mood: That's the design of the "tunnel" leading from Torch hotel to Villagio Mall. Brings back memories of the 80s, hm?

To get you in the mood: That’s the design of the “tunnel” leading from Torch hotel to Villagio Mall. Brings back memories of the 80s, hm?

It was a weeknight but still we were surprised that we were only one of 3 couples/families eating there. We weren’t surprised anymore after we had tried the food (okay, but nothing special) and were rebuffed when we asked for Arabian flatbread to go with the (lovely) hummus. They gave us two plastic-wrapped mini-bread pieces and said that was all the Arabian bread they had. In Doha! In a hotel adjacent to the Villagio Mall where you can buy bread by the cartload. cough

It’s a too small space, with too many tables too close together, giving it the vibes of a school cafeteria. Only one side of the restaurant is covered with carpets, the other side is a brightly lit row of metal food displays for the buffet, also with the exact charm of a school cafeteria. It’s made worse by the light being positioned wrong — it blinds you when you try to look at the food on display. %-)

According to other reviewers, the Flying Carpet’s only saving grace are the carpets hung up under the ceiling.

Under the ceiling … Which means you should see only the boring backside of the carpets. %-)

But the decorators were smarter than that: They hung the carpets overhead upside down. Seeing them “flying” (they were brought into shape with wires) the wrong way round made me seasick, so I kept my gaze on the less-than-charming cafeteria looks.

I’ll have to make do with visiting my romantic version of Flying Carpet restaurant in a short story. But my husband and I don’t give up  hope that we will discover romantic, good restaurants here in Doha. :-)

Would you share your stories of how what you thought would be a romantic spot turned out to be in reality? We could start with “kissing by Niagara Falls” while the surfs makes you deaf, spray gets in your eyes and about a million tourists push by … Or … c’mon. Spill. :-)
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I’d love to talk to you, either here on the blog or on Facebook and Twitter.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.