Tag Archives: restaurant review

My favourite Bahraini Breakfast places

Bahrain has multitude of options when it comes to food. Food is sustenance, tradition and entertainment. For self-proclaimed food lovers like me, every single day is a food adventure. Five years and counting, on the island, I can boast about having umpteen food experiences that I share through my blog. However, I am stumped every single time when I come across yet another brilliant food story on the island. Bahrain’s rich food history, tradition and its culinary diversity never cease to surprise me. Last weekend, I took upon myself to visit some of the popular traditional Arabic breakfast joints in Bahrain. My objective was to bring to the forefront only the best places and their best offerings. So follow my food trail and try not to drool while you read.

First stop- Chai Café, Sanabis

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This neighbourhood café that is always jam-packed and the waiting is endless especially on the weekends. If you an early riser, it can work in your favour because Chai Café opens by 8 am. Their breakfast options are vast and varied with a huge selection of eggs to choose from. There is something special that makes me visit Chai Café often – the cheese- zaatar Khuboos, cream cheese and omani chips roti, and the karak in a biscuit which they call the “Karak biscuit’. The khuboos is made fresh and right in front of your eyes and you have wonderful choice of eating it laden with Nutella, Mehyawa ( tangy sauce made from fermented fish) and even keema (minced meat). The Chai Karak in a biscuit is karak tea poured into a short bread shaped as a cup and lined with luscious condensed milk. Omani chips which I discovered are a local favourite is the main ingredient of the sandwich that Chai café calls roti. Simple yet delicious flavours of cream cheese, chips and the freshly baked buns make this a wonderful indulgence for weekend breakfasts. On an average, you may end up spending 4 BD/ person on breakfast at Chai Café.

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Second stop – Café Naseef, Bab Al Bahrain

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It is when you go on an expedition, do you stumble upon such well-kept secrets on the island. Café Naseef in Bab Al Bahrain is located inside the souq and is one of the oldest eating joints in Bahrain. It was interesting to note that they have been operational since 1920 and initially started of as Bahrain’s first ice cream shop! Their line up on icecreams was very tempting to say the least but I was there to enjoy the traditional breakfast and that is what I did. Café Naseef has an extensive menu but it is wise to order the Bahraini breakfast platter for BD 6. It comes with piping hot khuboos( bread) and bread with Mehywana sauce too. The main platter consists of several pieces of falafel (patty made from ground chickpeas) with an appetizing tahini sauce, Balaleet ( sweet vermicelli noodles with an omlette), spicy potato mash, foule ( mashed kidney beans), boiled chick peas and shakshouka ( scrambled eggs cooked in tomatoes).All of this glorious food goes smoothly with Karak tea ofcourse. On weekends, it would be better to get into the souq a little early because as the sun rises higher, the waiting list to dine in at Naseef grows bigger.

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Third stop – Emmawash, Budaiyya

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The first thing that struck me about Emmawash was –‘This place is unique’. This impression stayed as I toured the inside of the restaurant, met with the owner and enjoyed my breakfast. Emmawash is warm and welcoming and instantly feels like home. The servers and the owner- Abdulla make sure you have a good time. It was a revelation as I sampled Emmawash’s breakfast platter that consists of chicken liver, Keema, Nashif ( chicken curry), lentil dal and fresh bread. I washed it down with some chilled laban. To balance the savory, I also tried their special honey, jam, cream cheese which is guaranteed to be a favourite among children. Breakfast at Emmawash can cost an average of 3 BD/ person.

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Fourth Stop – Saffron by Jena, Muharraq

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Saffron by Jena is extremely well –known among the locals and expats alike. A Time Out Award winner, this traditional restaurant is a shining beacon in terms of the authenticity. It is located in the heart of old Muharraq, Riffa Fort and the Souq ( Bab Al Bahrain). But to truly immerse yourself in the Saffron experience, you have to visit the Muharraq outlet. Saffron by Jena serves a set menu for breakfast for BD 6 per person but the portions are good for two people. The set menu  comes with Balaleet ( sweetened vermicelli noodles with omlette), Shakshouka ( eggs and tomato), Foule ( mashed kidney beans), potatoes, luba ( spiced baked beans) and a basket of bread with khuboos, zingabri ( buns slathered with a sweet and spicy preserve), another sandwich with vegetarian kebabs and a bread with Mehyawa. They also serve a complimentary chilled saffron drink which is refreshing and acts like a palate cleanser. Saffron is also a place where you can try traditional Arabic sweets such as Ogaili ( a sweet flavoured with saffron, cardamom and rosewater and studded with sesame seeds).

While I went over- the- top and covered all these fabulous breakfast places in a single day, you don’t have to do that. You can take your time and enjoy the local delicacies spacing it out for each weekend. Food is definitely wonderful but it is the cultural vibe that each of these places exude that make it worth it.

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Fifth stop – Haji Gahwa, Manama ( on another day)

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Haji Gahwa is an inconspicuous traditional set up in the heart of Manama. You can spot it in the alley next to the Mosque in Bab Al Bahrain, Manama souq. On weekends its is busy with patrons who have been visiting the cafe for years. The Cafe’s most attractive characteristic would be the way it is set up in the alley with ‘old-style’ benches and laminated photographs on the walls that encapsulates the Bahrain of yesteryear. The other highlight of the cafe is their impeccable service and their ever-smiling servers. These servers, despite having their hands full, find time to tell you about the restaurant and its traditions. The dishes that stood out for me particularly were the fasulya ( spicy baked beans), Foul medames, Mehyawa and the fresh-out-of-the-oven khoboos. Make sure you try their egg dishes as well especially the omelette. Haji Gahwa opens at 5:30 am until 11:30 serving fresh breakfast.From noon until 4:30 PM lunch is served and from 5:00 pm to 9 PM, dinner is served. There is a separate section for families

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Those are my Bahraini Breakfast outlet choices. Have I missed out any that you particularly adore? Let me know.

(Pictures courtesy – @sushil317)

{Restaurant Review} Curry Night at Skywalk

There are plenty of exciting concepts sprouting all over the evolving food scene in Bahrain. Ardent foodies have many options to propel them to a various gastronomical seventh heavens. One such wonder is the “curry night” at Skywalk at the Marriott Executive Apartments in Juffair. Quietly nestling in the bustling neighbourhood of Juffair, the Sky walk has been nonchalantly brewing many culinary concepts to delight its in-house patrons ( the customers staying with the Marriott Executive Apartments) and the ones from around the island. Skywalk’s latest offering is the “Curry Night” through which it aims to share a different experience with curry lovers. There are lots of versions of curries from different parts of the world and understandably, we all have our own take on curries. The Curry Night at Skywalk Café offers guests the pleasure of creating their own curry masterpiece. The guests get to choose their own favorite condiment and a delicious sauce from Skywalk’s wide range that has been specially put together by their talented culinary team.IMG_0056_1

The guests can experiment by mixing different ingredients and have it cooked by Skywalk’s skillful chefs, just how they like it. This is complemented by delicious rice, a wide range of salads and scrumptious desserts. 

When I was invited by Skywalk to experience curry night, I was primarily expecting only Indian curries from their kitchen. But to my pleasant surprise, I was greeted with a range of curries from far-east and India. I was tempted to try all of them, instead decided to try my favourite Thai Green curry with rice. After I placed by order at the live cooking station, I headed to the salad bar which had a large spread of delightful and refreshing salads to choose from.

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My Thai green curry was served piping hot with some rice to accompany it. The aroma wafting through the curry whet my appetite further. I relished it with great gusto. I had ought to try other curries for a taste, but I was quite full from my wonderful Thai curry experience that I gave that tempting thought a pass. What is more, I was so pleasantly overwhelmed and happy with my main course, that I even decided to skip the dessert trolley that seemed so exotic.

Apart from the flavoursome food, the service at Skywalk is exceptional. The servers are educated about food and all the doubts with regards to the curries, the mixing of it are handled with incredible care. That would be a great reason to keep going back to Skywalk for the stellar customer experience they offer. For those who are interested, the curry night happens every Thursday 6;30- 9;30 PM and comes to BD 10 net that includes the beverages, desserts, salads, bread and large varieties of rice apart from the curry offerings. For more info, do not forget to follow and interact with Marriott Executive Apartments on Facebook & Twitter 

Thank you Marriott Executive Apartments and Skywalk for this currylicious experience.I look forward to coming back for more, very soon!

Fresh food counter at Lulu Hypermarket : Review

Off late, my schedule has been outright maddening. There hasn’t been any time to cook or enjoy a meal in peace. But I am glad that I have plenty of takeaway and home delivery options in Bahrain, that make my life easy. One of the reliable options is the hot food counter at Lulu Hypermarket. It also helps that it is dot opposite my home. 

Any time I feel I am missing home and feel a deep craving for home style food, I head to Lulu Hypermarket to enjoy my favourite sweets, snacks like pakoras, samosas. 

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Lulu Hypermarket’s hot food section has a great selection to choose from as you can see from the pictures. 

When I was offered to the opportunity to review the hot food section, I preferred Indian food and this is what they packed for me as a takeaway.

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The menu consisted of – A spicy salad which we call “Kachumber”, my favourite kadai paneer, Lemon and spice chicken tikka, Kashmiri Pulao and a selection of Indian sweets. 

The Kashmiri Pulao was fragrant and delicious with long-grained basmati rice, vegetables, sweet red grapes flavoured in saffron and spices. Simply delicious!

The kadai Paneer was oily and very “dhaba” style – exactly how I like it. Indulging once in a while is good for the soul, I believe.

The salad was the right accompaniment as it served as a palette cleanser. 

The chicken was lemon-y and very appetizing but I preferred by vegetarian fare over the meat. 

The milk -based sweets hit the right note without being too sweet. 

All in all, the meal from Lulu Hypermarket’s hot counter was filling and scrumptious and comes recommended for that once in a while indulgence or every day meal ( where you should opt for the lighter dals and vegetable curries or grills for the meat eaters)

Restaurant Review : Cafe Venissa at the Ritz Carlton, Bahrain

DSC_0019Do you want to enjoy a piece of Venice in the heart of Bahrain?

Here’s your chance to step into the elegant Venetian set up called Cafe Venissa at the Ritz Carlton. The inspiration for Cafe Venissa stems from the famous Italian coffee shop, Caffe Florian, which is the oldest coffee house in Europe. I had the opportunity to experience this last week, thanks to the invite from the Ritz Carlton. 

 

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The interiors and the decor are striking but then it is the Ritz Carlton that we are talking about. I wouldn’t expect anything less. The day we visited Cafe Venissa, it was particularly gloomy with overcast skies and a slight nip in the air. But it felt so perfect a time to enjoy some high tea type delights at Cafe Venissa.

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Upon entering the cafe, it felt like we stepped into a time and space far away from the one we were coming from. The walls of the cafe are flanked by renaissance -esque paintings, furniture is opulent and there is an atmosphere of elegance all around. We were carefully seated by the window which over looks the Ritz Carlton’s pool side.  Once seated, we were given the menu and a detailed explanation about the concept that was Cafe Venissa. The menu is not very extensive which I appreciate as it tends to get confusing. I expected the staff to help me choose which they did with great expertise. 

What you see here is the warm and inviting Cafe del Doge which is a delightful concoction of coffee, gianduja, cream and hazelnut. Just perfect for a chilly winter afternoon. I carried bits of chocolate in it which gave it an interesting bite. I could have done without the whipped cream but once in a while, I suppose it is fine.

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Someone was very happy with the hot chocolate and the marshmallows in it! 🙂 She even asked for extra helpings of marshmallows. Cafe Venissa has several menu options for children to explore and enjoy.

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It is not only the hot drinks that caught our interest. We were enthusiastic to try something cool as well. We opted for the Frozen Venissa. The frozen Venissa is a cold coffee cream with whipped cream. To me it felt like any other cold coffee with way too much whipped cream for my liking. 

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By this time, we were feeling quite ravenous and thought it was the right time to order for a few light bites.  As guided by the Marketing and communications coordinator, Carolina, we ordered for the Cafe Venissa’s signature salad – Insalata Venissa.  A refreshing bit-sized morsels of mozzarella, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, bresaola  ( air dried, salted beef) and very flavoursome, perfectly poached shrimps. The salad carries a light olive oil dressing and is a good sized portion for two. I can’t comment on the beef as I do not eat beef but my fellow diner was very happy sampling the bresaola. 

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The other recommended dish from the menu was the Salmon and spinach quiche. This was the highlight of our visit to Cafe Venissa. I know for a fact that so many fantastic restaurants get the simple and the basic quiche so wrong. Either it is too egg-y or too dough-y or quite heavy. There are very few places in Bahrain that know how to make the quiche taste really good. Cafe Venissa is definitely one of them! I am allergic salmon so I had to keep that aside and try the quiche which was absolutely delicious. We finished all the four quiche pieces in a jiffy!

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By the time we reached our final course, the  day light was gone and the pictures began to get really blurry 🙁 I am particularly sad because the dessert – the colours, the texture, the composition, the presentation and not to mention the taste- was fabulous and my pictures do not do justice to this perfection of a dessert duo – Lemon meringue tart and raspberry sorbet. The flavours were fresh, tingly on the tongue and oh-so light! Highly recommended!

By the time we finished our food and drinks, we thought it better to skip dinner. Completely sated and delighted by the service given to us, I resolved about returning to the cafe very soon with friends. 

From November 27 until December 8, the spotlight will be on the renowned band Caffe Concerto Strauss that will fill up the cafe with their enchanting, live music. Caffe Concerto Strauss is the original band of Caffe Florian and will be specially flying in to round up the unforgettable experience of the guests. Guests that would like to be part of this extravaganza can visit Cafe Venissa from November 3 to December 31, daily from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. For more information, and for reservations at Cafe Venissa, please call +973 1758 6499 or email rc.bahrz.restaurant.reservations@ritzcarlton.com.

Enjoy the weather in Bahrain and a true Venetian experience, a specially crafted menu and Ritz Carlton’s elevated service at Cafe Venissa. You will be surprised at how much you will want to go back after experiencing it once. 

Soie: My favourite Chinese food destination in Bahrain at the Sheraton

Chinese food has always been popular and I am glad to say we have a some really wonderful Chinese restaurants in Bahrain. Among those wonderful Chinese restaurants, Soie stands out. Soie is an award winning Chinese restaurant located at the Sheraton Bahrain Hotel, serving authentic Chinese cuisine. I was invited for a restaurant review at Soie several weeks back and I must tell you that even after such a long time, the memories of the good food still linger.

The interesting bit about Soie’s menu is that it is divided by the region the food comes from. 

  • Cantonese
  • South East Asia
  • Szechuan
  • Beijing 
  • Hong Kong

It was a delightful experience to choose from different regions and quite educational too. While I was waiting for the order to come, I was happy to google away from interesting Chinese food related facts. Did you know, food is so important to Chinese people that when two Chinese people meet each other instead of saying “Hi, how are you?”, they say: “Have you eaten yet?” I love societies that are so pro-food!

Tom Yam soup
Tom Yam soup

 The first dish to arrive was the very delicious and heart-warming Tom Yam Soup. It would be an understatement, if I were to say that the soup was the best I have had anywhere in the 35 long years of my life. So full of flavour, I couldn’t stop at one sip. 

Fried Chicken balls with sweet and spicy dip Fried Chicken balls with sweet and spicy dip

The chicken balls with sweet and spicy dip was a delectable starter. I was intrigued by the dip which wasn’t the regular sweet and spicy dip. It was definitely had a unique taste but I forgot to ask about the ingredients as our main course arrived soon after.

South - east Asian style Mango Crispy Chicken
South – east Asian style Mango Crispy Chicken

This main course was the highlight of our dinner. The sweet flavour from the mango and the sturdy flavours of the chicken is a match made in heaven. My usually reluctant husband couldn’t stop raving about it, long after the dinner was over. He loved it so much that the next day he recommended Soie and this dish in particular to all his colleagues at work!

Well done, Soie!

chicken dumplings
chicken dumplings

What’s not to love about chicken dumplings? To me, they act like palette cleansers in between courses. 

plain noodles for Mimi
plain noodles for Mimi
sizzling chicken Szechuan
sizzling chicken Szechuan

The second main course was a sizzler that was spicy and oh-so finger -licking good. Unfortunately, we were so full from all the generous portions that we couldn’t finish the sizzler. Moreover, we had to make sure that we kept some space reserved for dessert.

Green tea ice cream with strawberry compote
Green tea ice cream with strawberry compote

I have been meaning to try the Green tea ice cream for a long time and finally I did at Soie. I enjoyed the fresh, tingling flavour of the gree tea. I could easily feel the matcha green tea bits on my tongue. 

Selection of icecream for the conservative Mimi
Selection of icecream for the conservative Mimi

All in all, it was a wonderful experience at Soie with their wide selection on the menu, eclectic flavours from regional cuisine and generous portions. The interiors are avant garde yet relaxed.  The staff was very helpful in making selections and the service was very quick. Thank you Soie for having us and extending such an authentic experience in Bahrain.