Eating Out

Pyrotechnics on a plate

May 15 - 21, 2019
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Gulf Weekly Kristian Harrison
By Kristian Harrison




Gulf Weekly Pyrotechnics on a plate

After deciding to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan, mainly as a test of willpower and as a weight-loss mechanism, satiating my hunger is now the highlight of my day.

And, although I now cook for myself at home with culinary tips picked up from numerous Eating Out reviews, I had yet to sample the authentic experience of iftar in full this year. Thankfully, the Sheraton Bahrain Hotel served up delicious dishes of goodness that left me desperate for more traditional fare.

Walking through the hotel’s marble lobby, I was in high anticipation mode to see what delights the crew could serve up in its Awali Ballroom.

It did not disappoint, with no holding back on the festive theme. The red cloths dotted with stars and crescent moons evoked feelings of tradition, comfort and warmth, with friendly staff offering smiles as they sat guests down ready for the Maghrib prayer to call out over the speakers to signal sunset.

As some of the friendliest hospitality connoisseurs in the kingdom, the hotel’s GM, Thomas Flindt, and Executive Chef Magnus Falk were on hand to greet me in their inimitable way and pointed out some specialities I should try.

One thing you can guarantee from having a Dane, a Swede and a (half) Norwegian in the same room together is fireworks … but it just so happened that here the pyrotechnics were on the plate!

My first port of call was the soup selection and in particular the Cream of Pumpkin Soup which I’d spied on the way in. Gladly, it proved just as creamy and flavourful as it looked, particularly when accompanied with a selection of breads.

On the way back to my seat, I loaded up with salads, dips, cheeses and sushi … I was juggling plates like a clown at a birthday party!

One of the main problems I have experienced in the past with iftars or ghabgas is that often the focus is so strong on the decoration and the vibe, that the food is almost an afterthought.

When you have a room packed with people who haven’t eaten all day, that isn’t great. However, the team at the Sheraton have managed to perfect the balance between an authentic décor but also ensuring that the food is the centrepiece of the event.

Food was piping hot throughout the evening and each plate full of pasta, meat, grills, vegetarian curries, noodles and more felt like it was cooked to order specifically from the menu rather than mass produced in buffet style.

I was seriously impressed.

I even discovered something new, chicken harees. Served in a cute red pot, this is a slightly bizarre concoction of wheat and meat, infused with cinnamon, cardamom and date butter, it just … worked. I’ll never be able to have normal porridge again after sampling this delight.

Although my stomach was telling my brain that there was simply no room for dessert, I reneged on my promise of ‘no more’ when I saw just what was in store.

A mixture of traditional Arabic sweets like Um Ali and basbousa, mixed with traditional favourites such as berry cheesecake, chocolate cake, crème brûlée and a variety of yoghurts and tiramisu in a glass, left me reaching for my belt to undo a notch or two.

Furthermore, one side of the room was completely enveloped by a table packed with different types of dates. I honestly didn’t know there were so many varieties, but there were plates full of the sweet treat in a number of different sizes, colours and shapes.

The final flourish, though, was the crêpe corner with a Baskin Robbins stand next to it. The temptation was almost unfair … how could I say no to that?

My taste buds certainly thanked me, even if my diet didn’t! Rarely, if ever, have I felt so satisfied after dining out. Quality food, superb service, awesome atmosphere and endless variety. That’s the true spirit of Ramadan in my book.

 

The Iftar buffet is served from sunset to 8.30pm. Priced BD18+++ and children aged four to 12 will be charged BD8.500+++, and those below four, dine for free.

The hotel will be serving a daily Ghabga at Golestan Iranian Restaurant from 9pm to 2am, priced BD12.500+++ for adults.







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