Entering the crisp, contemporary lobby of the Vida Beach Resort Marassi Al Bahrain on a Friday afternoon, there’s a magnetic buzz that lures us towards Origins, the hotel’s all-day dining spot. The space is infused with live music, the warm banter of family and friends and children laughing. Add to that the inviting aroma of food, and one can almost miss the spectacular view of the azure waterfront that lies beyond. Almost.
After a quick recce of the extensive buffet, I zeroed in on the detox juices. Stoppered glass bottles of colourful concoctions awaited; Pear and Cucumber, Beetroot, celery and carrot, Pineapple, jasmine tea and ginger – all sweetened with their natural ingredients. My favourite was the Coconut, yogurt, pineapple and cilantro; haven’t tasted anything like it that claims to be healthy for you.
The table full of delectable cold cuts was calling out to me, but I kept my promise to my inner good girl and headed straight to the salad bar. This counter was laden with produce so fresh, I could feel the ‘snap’ of the veggies between my fingers without even touching them. The presentation of the colourful appetisers and salads was so appealing (some in cute little jars) that even the most averse to greens would fancy sampling them all. I helped myself to Beetroot hummus, Panacotta with tomato puree, Quinoa salad and Couscous with chicken. The magenta-hued hummus had an expected yet refreshing tang to it, along with the crunch of walnut bits, and the neutral flavours of the Pannacotta, that was topped with my favourite burrata, made for a clever palate cleanser. The quinoa and couscous salads were both ‘dressed’ suitably for an upscale Friday afternoon.
While the children chomped on spinach samoosas and clear chicken soup (which made me feel smug, because, hello, veggies!), the mister sang the praises of the tuna salad in a tiny pot, gleefully topped with pistachios and microgreens, and Middle Eastern favourite – golden Harra potatoes sprinkled with red chillies and verdant cilantro.
Next, we made a beeline for the fresh seafood station, replete with mussels, clam, oyster, and other gems from the ocean, including salmon gravlax and cuts of fish for sashimi. The cold weather outside called for having the crustaceans grilled. The shrimp, lobster and crab were done to perfection – Executive Chef Nicolas Herbault obviously has a highly skilled team under his wing. Their Caribbean-inspired marinade allowed the real taste of the succulent seafood to shine (without a trace of that repelling fishiness, a sign of ultimate freshness), and had no need for any accompanying condiments. I must mention here how the humble steak of kingfish tasted superior with perfect seasoning and a hint of heat to elevate its flavours.
The cold elements on my plate were a nod to Chef Nicolas’s French heritage - two types of terrine: Ratatouille; vegetables in a tomato base, but with the surprise of feta cheese within, and Salmon Dill; moreish salty fish pâté speckled with green peas and boiled quail eggs. Swanky, much like the overall vibe at Vida.
While the significant other made himself at home at the roast section – turkey, Angus Short Ribs with mushroom sauce, leg of lamb and oven-baked salmon fillet (all of which he thoroughly enjoyed), I spooned some Tangerine Chicken Scallions and Ravioli Spinach Ricotta onto my plate. I savoured the zesty-sweet sauce of the chicken that was further elevated with spring onion greens, sweet peppers and nigella seeds. There isn’t a better word that could succinctly describe the ravioli than de-li-cious. The stuffed pasta pockets were cooked faultlessly, drowned in a rich, velvety cheese sauce that took over all my senses and instantly sent me to la-la land. I decided this would be the crowning glory and a fitting end to my main meal. Also because I was all gluttoned out by then.
A quick walk and photo-op along the seafront promenade that the venue’s backyard boasts, and we were ready for dessert. A wide variety vied for our attention. I darted towards the uber light chocolate mousse garnished with chewy almond crumble, and Pistachio Crème Brulée, both of which suitably satiated my sweet tooth. I went back for the white chocolate truffle with dark chocolate-covered orange peel and the Caramel Profiterolls. Turned out to be a good decision.
I felt like a four-year-old asked to leave the ball pit when the best songs from the 2000s (ah, carefree times) ceased to be performed and the buffet wound down. It is evident that Vida Beach Resort has pulled out all the stops to wow its guests and leave an indelible mark on their memories. It was sheer joy even just to witness the staff serving guests with such delight and respect for their work. With a brunch as extensive and extraordinary as this, it’s clear that this hotel is gunning to be a firm Friday favourite amongst Bahrain’s gastronomes.