Eating Out

Park and thrive at festival!

March 13 - 19, 2019

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Park and thrive at festival!

Every week, a different member of the team gets to dine out at a specific restaurant to review the ambience, service and quality of fare.

Some days we feast on a Michelin star dish cooked up at a five-star hotel and other days it’s chomping on a juicy burger in a tiny diner.

It’s a hard task but somebody has to do it. Besides, the only thing I like better than talking about food is eating it.

This week’s review is different than most as the editor gave me room to graze with a plethora of options to choose from. My mission was to eat to my heart’s content at the Bahrain Food Festival.

This gastronomic destination boasted everything from sweet to savoury and simple cuisine to fancy fare, alongside a stage full of entertainment and activities for the entire family to enjoy. It was a diner’s delight.

The annual festival, organised by the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions, is located at The Park in the Avenues and runs until Saturday from 5pm to 11pm every evening.

Scores of families and food lovers have been flocking to the corniche since its launch on February 28 and it doesn’t look like the hype will be dying down any time soon.

Last year, my husband Sam and I, made our way to the event’s unveiling and were met with ridiculous traffic queues. I was dropped off at the entrance while Sam scoured the area to find parking. Needless to say, by the time I had covered the opening, Sam had still not found a space and, instead, circled back to pick me up.

This time around, we were determined that no matter what we were going to dine together.

It was busy once again last weekend. A friend suggested we park on open ground nearby which had an organised bus system, transporting visitors to the festival and back.

We couldn’t find it although valet parking was available.

In a bid to save the fils we roamed the area, eventually found parking and set off on our merry way.

It seems high winds last Saturday evening and a chilly breeze didn’t keep people away from the festival.

There were plenty of tables, chairs and other decorative art pieces on site, such as the words Eat and Yummy and a giant pineapple that people could sit in for selfies. There were live cooking demonstrations, big stage dance and musical performances, as well as street performers.

The restaurants and cafes were housed in colourful huts and stalls. There were around 108 vendors to choose from featuring food from around the globe, including Asian, Italian, Middle Eastern and Greek.

Every vendor oozed a different vibe with some chefs singing loudly to attract people, while other stalls handed out tiny bites to keep visitors coming back for more. We started our food tasting session with a 500fils hot cup of karak and cardamom from Chai & Chapati Café to help keep us warm while we roamed the grounds in search of some dining pleasure.

The choice was spectacular, from burgers, to pizzas, ribs, sushi and Arabic favourites including kebabs and sweet desserts.

We tried a sandwich from The Flaming Salmon, a restaurant run by two friends, Rashed Mohamed and Najem Salmeen, and members of their families. They regularly appear at markets and festivals across the kingdom. The chefs grill and smoke the salmon on an open fire pit and serve it in a potato bun, a home-made signature sauce with lettuce and a lemon wedge on the side.

Although there was a long line, it moved quickly as the guys put together the BD3.500 salmon sandwich like a well-oiled machine. It was love at first bite. The salmon was light and meaty, the sauce was zesty and divine, the potato bun was fluffy and the lettuce offered a welcomed crunch.

While there were a few other places I wanted to try, the salmon filled me up and I had to do the walk of shame (as I didn’t eat as much as I thought I would) all the way back to the car. It was a great way to digest though.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say: ‘I’ll be back!” And that I will.

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