Thursday, December 12, 2019
Dining

Exquisite Eateries

by BTM

Mon, 31 December 2018

Exquisite Eateries

With the festive season over, January can feel a little flat. Why not perk up the winter season with trip to one of the Kingdom’s outstanding eateries. For a small island, Bahrain certainly punches above its weight in terms of fine-dining and Michelin associations. We’ve rounded up some of the tastiest options.

Michelin Connections
Four Seasons Bahrain Bay is home to two restaurants with superstar-chef backing – CUT by Wolfgang Puck and re/Asian Cuisine by Wolfgang Puck. As the names suggest, they’re both under the umbrella of chef Wolfgang, who is best known for his Beverly Hills eatery Spago (which had a pop-up in Bahrain last year) and for catering the Oscars. Chef Wolfgang’s team have all been trained in his worldwide restaurants and he makes regular visits to keep an eye on things.

Rasoi by Vineet at The Gulf Hotel was the island’s first fine-dining outlet operated by a Michelin-starred chef. Vineet Bhatia was the first Indian ever to gain one of the coveted culinary stars for his London joint-venture restaurant, Zaika, back in 2001. He later went out on his own to launch the first Rasoi in Chelsea in 2004. And though that is now closed, he has several other restaurants around the globe. His food was described by the Evening Standard as “cutting-edge Indian cooking in tapas-style portions.” 

Also at The Gulf, the latest Michelin-starred chef to throw his toque into the Bahrain ring is another Italian, Giancarlo Perbellini. During 2018, the hotel’s much-loved Italian outlet got a complete upgrade to relaunch as La Pergola by Perbellini and a brand-new menu, created by the chef. He visits the island regularly showing off the skills that have made him one of Italy’s most celebrated pastry chefs.

A German with a passion for Italian cuisine, chef Oliver Glowig works closely with Vencenzo Nigro, who is chef de cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain’s Primavera. Chef Oliver has two Michelin stars for his restaurant in Rome and he brings that same flair to Bahrain during regular visits during which he conducts cooking classes and works on keeping the Primavera menu fresh and up-to-date.

The Visitors
The Kingdom’s kitchens are no strangers to celebrity chefs. The Gulf Hotel has welcomed both Takagi Kazuo and Wout Bru. The Capital Club has a programme of hosting members of the world’s Top 50 Chefs, most recently presenting chef Valentino Palmisano for a two-day visit. And the InterContinental Regency’s new GM plans to get in on the act soon with pop-up restaurants and VIP culinary visitors.

There’s More
Mahonia burst onto the dining scene in April last year with just a handful of tables and a 16-course degustation menu prepared by a team of 40 chefs, who treat every dish as a work of art. There is a smaller seven-course degustation menu and an à la carte option all prepared under the watchful eye of chef Herve Pronzato, who has himself worked in various Michelin-starred establishments. The food is described as “outstanding” but, beware, it’s certainly not cheap and it’s rumoured there’s a waiting list.

My Café, the brainchild of Sawsan Baluch, who also launched Mahonia, is anything but a café. Don’t expect sandwiches and quick eats. Here you will find an eclectic and full menu with a great range of grapes alongside.


Maki

is in a class of its own when it comes to Japanese fusion, thanks to founders, Oliver and Amer Zeitoon. Oliver is a passionate foodie who had been experimenting with Japanese dishes for years before they opened their first small restaurant in Kuwait. Since then, the brand has spread across the region and even to London’s Soho. Diners at Maki are guaranteed new and exciting menu additions on virtually every visit including great veggie and vegan options. 

Fishbone by Chef Susy Massetti is a relatively new entry to the Kingdom’s fine-dining scene, but when you see the name that’s attached to it, there can be no doubting that it belongs in this list. As one might expect, the menu is 75 per cent fish and seafood with, in chef Susy’s words, “enough other dishes to keep everyone happy”. And the emphasis is on good, fresh, local produce.

Still on the subject of fish, but not purely so, La Mer at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq has a great menu in a fabulous setting overlooking the blue waters of The Gulf. Set in a glass tower on a promontory, it has an extensive menu which is heavy on seafood but with more than enough to keep non-fish eaters happy. And if you fancy a lighter nibble, head downstairs to Tapas, which does exactly what its name says, and does it very well.

Mirai has been at the heart of the Adliya dining scene in Block 338 for several years and its slick décor, pared-back aesthetic and authentic Japanese menu have earned it a deserved reputation for culinary excellence.

Plant-based cuisine might not easily spring to mind when one considers fine dining, but at Plant Café, that’s exactly what you get. Dishes that are fully vegan, frequently gluten-free, thoroughly nutritious and usually quite beautiful.

Having risen from the ashes of a disastrous fire a few years ago, Oliveto reopened in a gorgeous, futuristic building in Adliya and quickly regained its favoured spot among the Kingdom’s foodies. With serious Italian cuisine – simple food, superbly created from the finest ingredients – and amazing surroundings, you truly won’t go wrong here.

We wouldn’t usually add a chain restaurant to a fine-dining round-up but Teatro by Rotana is a firm favourite with anyone who’s eaten at any of the UAE venues. This gives our local branch, Teatro Downtown, quite a lot to live up to. It manages admirably with a cool bar area before you enter the restaurant and a range of innovations running alongside the much-loved Teatro staples.

Another chain that deserves a mention is Meat Co where the glasses make a satisfyingly crystal-like clink, the linens are crisp, the cellar extensive and the meats absolutely marvelous. Top all that with waiting staff who are not only knowledgeable but display a great sense of fun and you have a fine-dining eatery that feels relaxed and sociable.


Honourable Mentions
The above are some of the most notable fine-dining venues in the Kingdom but there are plenty of others to choose from. Both Nirvana and Plums at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain, are multi-award winners. Bushido has a loyal following who love its menu with ingredients flown in from Japan. The Foundry is all industrial chic with slavish addiction to seasonal produce. And Florence La Maison Mediterraneenne is an extremely pretty, reasonably-priced option that holds Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence. We could go on…

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