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THERE are two big sporting questions we are facing this week, firstly who is going to win the FIFA World Cup Final and secondly, where is the best place to go to watch the action?
I took Kristian ‘The Voice of Sport’ with me to enjoy one of the quarter-finals at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain’s stunning Masaya Pavilion which has been superbly transformed into the World Pavilion for the occasion.
As reported earlier in GulfWeekly, it’s now a soccer sanctuary with perfect sound and vision to welcome fans into a lap of luxury. And, you can’t settle down for a match without a good munch and the World Pavilion has come up trumps with a sizzling selection of snacks and side dishes to make the game a tasty triumph whatever the score.
This is comfort food at its best and to make sure the scene is perfectly set you can squish down on comfy sofas at the same time. This is like settling down in your living room with the added attraction of a stadium atmosphere.
A couple who lived in Seef had wandered over to the venue for the first time and joined us on our huge settee, the gent was a Brit and his wife came from Uruguay, and, although in the minority, she gave the large French contingent of fans in the venue fair competition on the cheering front.
With no favourite to follow in this particular tie, it was great just to settle down and watch the beautiful game unfold on the big screen and pile into the selection of fare we had picked from the special World Pavilion Menu.
First to arrive on the table was a bowl of Chicken Popcorn (BD4++) with a tantalising sweet chili sauce – about the only thing finding success this World Cup tournament with a South American twist!
Those little balls of fire really set the tone for some finger-licking fun, and although the good old USA may not have made it to Russia, the Hot Dog (BD3++), which we cut in half to share, made me think of the Independence Day BBQs the base boys must have enjoyed in recent days. A nice traditional combination of ketchup, mayo, mustard and relish added to the lip-smacking treat.
Although the table was set up with silver service knives and forks, they really weren’t necessary in the circumstances, as we dived into the six pieces of Chicken Wings (BD4++) before half-time dipping them automatically into the accompanying BBQ sauce.
Kristian ordered an extra plate of potato wedges (BD1) which really was not needed as the plates were piled full of French Fries in most cases but, feeling nostalgic and in support of the motherland and tonight’s big semi-final clash against Croatia, I felt duty bound to order England’s favourite dish, Fish ’n’ Chips (BD5++).
I know it wasn’t cod or haddock but as I’ve said many times on this page, I’m more than happy with hammour. This was fried perfectly in finger-sized portions.
Feeling decidedly guilty about this afternoon of over indulgence I tried to balance the moment with the House Salad (BD1++) a bowl full of crispy green goodness, with a tasty dressing to add to the calorie count, whoops!
On occasions it appeared a little fraught on the service side as on four occasions we were offered dishes we hadn’t ordered, but all the snacks were delivered to the table hot, which in the circumstances, having such a bustling crowd to cater for, the kitchen team should be congratulated on.
There is a plentiful supply of beverages available but, as I was driving home, I settled for a refreshing Virgin Mojito mocktail with lime, mint and soda at BD1.500++ the same price as Kristian’s cola.
Hector Vargas, outlets manager, has been delighted with the response to the changes made to the stunning octagon-shaped structure, which despite its grandeur has captured a homely vibe.
It’s a match made in heaven with a cleverly-created, fabulously-priced menu destined to satisfy the mightiest of munchy hunger pains. At least you’ll go home full and satisfied even if the result doesn’t go your way.
No expense has been spared on the technology used to deliver sharp images on 10 large screens and an additional two ‘mega screens’ with superb sound quality to match with English commentary where I was seated.
One tip, go early to secure a good seat. Due to the expected crowds, reservations will be required for the lounge seating areas, specifically for the couches. The remaining seating areas will be at on a first come, first served basis.
The venue is open daily from 2pm to 2am, with free entry with a minimum spend of BD10 per person. For more information, dial 17586499.