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THEY’RE as proud as Punch at Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre’s Baharat restaurant … and with good reason too.
You can spot the smiles on the faces of the chefs and front of house staff the moment you step through the door. It’s simply electrifying and appreciative diners have been quick to shower them with well-deserved praise.
So much so that Baharat has just achieved No 1 ranking on travel and restaurant website Trip Advisor as ‘best restaurant’ in Bahrain, remarkable if you take into consideration it was ranked in 35th spot this time last year.
And, where better to celebrate the achievement that at the ‘sweetest brunch’ on the island? The good lady wife, Kathryn and I, were joined on Friday by our Aussie expat friends, Geoff and Tracy, who are amongst this destination’s biggest fans.
I was one of the first restaurant reviewers to taste test Chef Hany Mostafa’s bid to reinvigorate its offering at Baharat. The Friday brunch scene remains one of the most competitive in the kingdom’s hospitality sector and it’s great to witness that all the months of hard work, culinary imagination and perfection appears to be paying off.
Not surprisingly, Chef Hany has been promoted to Complex Executive Chef since we last met. He was busy on another assignment last Friday but passed on the message that he was fully confident in shining the spotlight on Chef de Cuisine Manoj Chaminda and Pastry Chef Suresh Perera.
It takes a lot for a brunch to stand out because the kingdom has so many truly outstanding offerings, there’s got to be something unique. Obviously the ‘sweetest brunch’ proclamation clearly outlines its intent … but let’s get to that later.
The salad selection was excellent, crisp and clean with well-presented choices in dishes and glasses, the seafood offering was as good and as fresh as anything I’ve had on the island, and the main course cuts were superbly succulent, such as Beef Strip Loin, Roasted Duck and Salmon en Croute ready to be carved. I tried a slice of all three, each with their own gravy suggestion.
There are various live cooking areas including an Asian Station, veiled off with a pretty array of lamps, and right opposite diners can pick up the most sensational Seared Foie Gras and my star attraction, BBQ Beef Short Ribs, in the most delicious sauce imaginable.
Adding to the ambience was a South Africa and Irish duo called Deuxsous, namely Byron and Sionelle, delivering delightful sing-along ditties at the perfect volume level.
Restaurant manager Vinoth Sivalingam should be congratulated too for running the show with precision and charm. I was also particularly impressed by our ever-helpful bright young Sri Lankan table waiter, Raveen.
And, now for the desserts … please make room for the pudding. Regular readers will know I have a soft spot for the best thing that Bahrain has ever done for me … rekindled a lost love of Sticky Toffee Pudding.
You have to make a date with this warm and wonderful masterpiece, served in all its glory with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.
I know it’s only one of a multitude of choices on display, a creative collection of cakes and sweet delights beyond your wildest dreams. And, once again the pastry team displayed its originality with an absolute first for me … the Date Strudel!
Apple, eat your heart out, this is the future.
Another star turn was the Bahraini favourite Kanafeh, a quality take on this traditional pastry with sweet syrup and layered with cheese.
Keep up the good work guys, you’re reached the pinnacle of success and in this game, that’s when the work really starts. On this showing though, you’re the act to beat.
The Sweetest Brunch runs from 12.30pm to 4pm every Friday priced BD26net, inclusive of soft drinks, tea and coffee and BD38net, including selected beverages.
To book a table call 17171000 for more details or visit www.lemeridienbahraincitycentre.com/en/forms/Friday-Brunch