Bahrain's best restaurants are revealed by Time Out
Time Out Bahrain staff
Restaurant of the Year Masso Award-winning chef Susy Massetti has captured the hearts of Bahrain’s foodies with her style of farm-to-table cooking – many of the top-quality ingredients used in the kitchen are picked straight from their Budaiya farm that morning. The stylish, chic venue always draws in the crowds, no matter what day of the week, and the food, which has plenty of Italian and Mediterranean influence, is consistently impressive. The menu changes with the season, too, so you’ll never get bored of going back for more. At least once, make sure you order the incredible cedar-plank salmon fillet with the honey glaze and crispy shallots, which is always on offer (you’ll be dreaming of it for weeks afterwards). Overall, portions are generous (adding more value for money) and flavours are spot on. Open Mon-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Fri-Sat noon-4pm, 7pm-11pm. Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (17 721 061).
Best Afternoon Tea winner The Orangery Patisserie & Tea Room, Palace Boutique An English tea room is the perfect place for afternoon tea, and The Orangery exceeds expectations. It’s easily the most authentic offering on the island – the atmosphere is light and airy, with a gentle hum thanks to a steady stream of customers, and the servers are extremely helpful and always efficient. The selection is fairly traditional – you can opt for smaller, less expensive platters of scones or macarons, but the reasonably priced, traditional afternoon tea for two is a must (don't forget to add the macaron tier on). It’s a leisurely experience, with courses of unique sandwiches, spot-on scones and, in particular, outstanding desserts. If you’re looking to spend an entire, relaxed afternoon nibbling your way through excellent bites, then this is certainly the place to book. BD16.5 (for two). Served daily 3pm-6pm. Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (17 36 9696).
Highly Commended The Gallery Lobby Lounge, Art Rotana The beach views from The Gallery Lobby Lounge at Art Rotana steal the show before you even glance at the menu. The ambiance is calm and relaxed – it seems to attract business-people and casual holidaymakers – and very well suited to a leisurely afternoon tea experience. The menu is far more sophisticated though, the usual selection of crumbly scones and clotted cream is served, alongside an elegant selection of savoury bites and finger sandwiches using ingredients such as lobster, truffle and duck paté on brioche. For the grand finale (or “a sweet delivery” as they call it), a dessert trolley is wheeled out (including a salted caramel bar). Every step of the way, your delightful waiter guides you through the pleasant afternoon experience, making sure you’re topped up with tea as well as being comfortable, which you certainly will be. In particular, this is a great introductory experience for people who have never had afternoon tea before. From BD15++. Served from 3pm-5pm. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (1600 0111).
Bay View Lounge In terms of atmosphere, Bay View Lounge is hard to beat. Beautiful olive trees line the lobby lounge, while large, floor-to-ceiling windows offer clear views of Bahrain Bay, and a pianist regularly performs. The afternoon tea selection is fairly traditional, with the customary sandwiches and desserts, while the warm scones are a particular highlight. Everything is stunningly presented and served with panache. Classic ingredients such as smoked salmon and cucumber are present, but done with an elegant twist. Once you’re done, it’s a comfortable location to unwind and catch up with friends. It might be one of the most expensive afternoon tea offerings, but there is no question as to why it is a popular destination on the island and it fully deserves its Highly Commended accolade in the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards 2016. BD15. Served 3pm-6pm. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, Manama (17 115 000).
Best Bar Food winner Blue Moon Lounge Firstly, the views from the 50th floor are stunning in this award-winning bar. Then add to that the chic ambience, the creative beverage menu and sophisticated Wolfgang Puck food, which boasts a medley of Asian fusion flavours (bite-sized from neighbouring re Asian Cuisine | Wolfgang Puck, our Restaurant of the Year 2015 and Best Asian 2016), and you have a serious contender in the bar food category. In terms of pure taste there is nowhere better in Bahrain; delicate and subtly flavoured crystal dumplings, explosive Wagyu beef “bao buns”, the sweetness of stir fried lamb – everything is exquisitely cooked. Portions are small and the prices are high, but the quality of the food makes a visit to the Blue Moon Lounge worth the expense. Open Sun and Tue 6pm-midnight, Wed-Thu 6pm-2am, Fri 4.30pm-2am, Sat noon-midnight. Four Seasons Hotel, Bahrain Bay, Manama (17 115 046).
Highly Commended Polo Gastropub Gastropub food was a relatively new concept in Bahrain when this down-to-earth venue was reinvented two years ago. Since then, the team at this cosy British-style pub has introduced insanely succulent burgers, an awesome po’boy and even deep fried Mars Bars, using top-notch ingredients and unique flavour combinations. And now it's supporting Bahrain’s music scene with regular performances by local bands. Kudos. It’s an excellent place to visit for chilled-out folk who simply love good food and good company. Open daily noon-2am. The Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (1772 5000).
Tapas Bar & Restaurant Don’t be fooled by the name – you won’t just get Spanish tapas at this beautiful, nautically-inspired seaside venue; you’ll get a raft of eclectic flavours from around the world in portions perfect for sharing with friends and family. Tapas effortlessly transcends the “bar food” label and provides a dining experience of real quality – the menu offers everything from zingy bruschetta to fresh seafood options and rustic mezze plates. While you enjoy the food, you can also kick back to Cuban tunes by the live band and, when the weather is cooler, relax on the terrace which has some of the best sea views on the island. Open daily 11.30am-1am. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Best Brunch winner Choices Art Rotana’s beautifully designed all-day dining restaurant is home to the hotel’s epic Friday brunch. Our official Best Brunch this year, Choices has managed to maintain the quality in this stellar offering, attracting groups and families from all over the country. It manages to toe the line between fun and family well – there is a kids’ corner for children to eat and play (also featuring a PlayStation), as well as a roaming clown making balloon animals. But there’s also a mixture of beverage stations and a wide array of sophisticated cuisine, including live cooking stations for Indian curries, Italian pastas, British roasts (a juicy, succulent highlight), Mexican fajitas and even a selection of cheese and grape. The buffet dishes are along similar lines as other brunches, so we recommend sticking with the made-to-order dishes for a more unique experience. And certainly save room for the desserts, in particularly the outstanding Middle Eastern umm ali. Meanwhile, servers are very attentive and helpful, and the atmosphere has been taken up a notch since the team decided to swap the resident band with a more upbeat DJ set. BD34 (house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Highly Commended Bahrain Bay Kitchen As the winner of the Time Out Bahrain Best Brunch accolade in 2015, and Highly Commended again this year, it’s hard not to have high expectations for this buffet-style brunch based at the prestigious Four Seasons Bahrain Bay. You’ll be pleased to know, however, that Bahrain Bay Kitchen meets these standards with abundance. From the live pani puri station to the fresh sushi, the tender lamb ouzi to the traditional carvery, the food is fresh, well-seasoned and delicious. This brunch also manages to play to many strengths, with its family-friendly, sophisticated yet fun atmosphere. A singer croons smooth versions of chart-toppers, while the friendly, switched-on staff mill about making sure your tables are cleared and glasses are always full. The vast, beautifully designed interiors mean that no matter how busy the brunch gets, you’re never overwhelmed, but you can always book a table on the terrace in the immaculately landscaped gardens in cooler weather, too. It’s elegant and adult, but also happens to be one of the best brunches in town for kids, as not only is there a cute, mini buffet station for the little ones, but the spacious Kids’ Club is located just down the hall. BD27++ (soft beverages), BD37++ (house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-3.30pm. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Masso Seemingly trivial details show the quality of a restaurant. It’s the attention to detail – hard to fake or hide – that keep customers loyal and it’s in this way that Masso excels. There’s the genuine warmth and knowledge of the front-of-house servers; there’s the attention lavished on the delicious beef tagliata, grilled to perfection; the waiter who, an hour into your brunch, notices that you look a little down due to a lack of veal chorizo and brings you another portion unasked. This is what has made head chef Susy Massetti’s restaurants such a success, and the Masso brunch typifies her philosophy of substance over any flashiness. Many of the tasty ingredients are locally grown in the venue’s own organic garden in Budaiya and, though the food is well presented, it’s the flavours that linger in your memory. This is another à la carte brunch, so your elbows won’t need sharpening ahead of dining here. The breakfast and lunch dishes, the choice of which can change slightly each week, are brought to your table in generous portions, with the option to order more of whatever impresses. Dessert is a slight let-down after its sumptuous precursors – it’s buffet-style with nothing as mouthwatering and exciting as the main courses – but that’s just a minor blemish on what is an excellent brunch. BD25 (soft beverages), BD33 (house beverages). Fri-Sat noon-4pm. Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (17 725 000).
Best Business Lunch winner Bushido Bushido’s grand size and elegant entrance offers a sense of occasion upon arrival. With dim lighting and a sleek, Asian décor, this place is Oriental chic and is a great spot for any special occasion, which is why it’s bagged our Best Japanese restaurant award this year. The servers know the recently updated menu inside out and come armed with helpful suggestions. Maki, robata and teppanyaki options sit next to more creative fusion dishes and it’s all expertly prepared, beautifully presented and full of well-balanced flavours. This place has also scooped the top prize for Best Business Lunch award every single year the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards has been going – an unheard of achievement across Time Out GCC. It’s just pretty hard to beat, in terms of setting (we love the floating outdoor terrace), quality (the ingredients are great), variety (there are more than ten options) and value for money. While it’s primarily Japanese in its food offering, there are other more international flavours for less inclined diners, as well as a selection of eight excellent bento boxes. It’ll impress anyone. Open daily noon-3pm, 7-11.30pm.. Bushido Restaurant and Lounge, Seef (17 583 555).
Highly Commended Bice Where better to discuss business than in one of Bahrain’s most iconic office spaces? BiCE, located in the notable Bahrain World Trade Centre, offers a sophisticated setting, lovely views and a chic ambience in which to meet with one of your clients, which is why it’s won our Highly Commended Business Lunch award for two years in a row. The food, which is upscale Italian, will also impress, as there is plenty of choice and the flavours are well-balanced. Just make sure you’re ready for it to be leisurely, as they serve three courses per person, alongside a glass of grape. Even if you’re headed there for a dinner instead of lunch, BiCE offers a range of fabulous dishes, excellent views and a grown-up, intimate, sophisticated vibe. It shouldn’t be overlooked. Open daily noon-12.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm (closed for lunch on Friday). Bahrain World Trade Centre, Manama (17 533 666).
Best Romantic winner La Mer With an amazing vista and top-class chefs, La Mer is a refined seafood restaurant at the stunning five-star Sofitel hotel. The restaurant is tastefully decorated; simple white walls and dark wood floors allow the sea views to take centre stage. Staff are friendly, professional and, importantly, they know the menu, and come armed with suggestions for a great meal. The typical French dishes are creative, stunningly-presented and well-prepared. With each mouthful the chefs’ skills and understanding of seafood are demonstrated. For a special, romantic evening, La Mer is always top on our list and it’s won the Best Romantic award for a number of years. It might be expensive, but it’s well-worth the treat, especially if you’re looking to impress your loved one. Open Thu-Sat 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Sun-Wed 7pm-11pm. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Highly Commended La Fontaine Wind your way through enclosed courtyards and tiny corridors and find La Fontaine’s intimate European restaurant, which is hidden in this renovated traditional Bahraini home. It has often been awarded with our Best Romantic Restaurant accolade in the past. The atmosphere is tranquil, with candlelight and soft background music to enhance the date-night vibe, in the dining areas both inside and out. The food focuses on specialties from Italy and the Mediterranean, but you’ll find influences from all over. Try prawns wrapped in kunafa pastry and served with green mango-chilli salsa, alongside grilled duck breast and tasty risottos and pasta dishes. It’s all tasty, beautifully presented and satisfying. And while it might be somewhat understaffed, the service is still pleasant enough to guarantee you’ll return. Open daily 11.30am- 10.30pm (closed Mondays). La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art & Spa, Hoora (17 230 123).
Keizo This Far Eastern fusion restaurant is worth the drive out to Al Areen Palace & Spa because of its stunning setting and romantic surroundings, which offer exceptional views from the garden terrace. A dramatic, canopied ceiling is overhead, while the considerate staff take care of you, while you enjoy a meal of delightful Asian fusion cuisine. Head there in cooler weather and make sure you book a seat on the terrace, which looks over the resort’s lush, neatly landscaped grounds. Service is outstanding, with friendly yet unobtrusive staff who are able to navigate the extensive menu and offer customised, spot-on suggestions. The eclectic food selection combines Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisines and desserts are a highlight. Open Mon-Sat 7pm-11pm. Al Areen Palace & Spa, Zallaq (17 845 000).
Best Café winner Café Lilou As the recipient of numerous Best Café accolades at the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards, you’d expect a high level of service and food quality at Café Lilou. Luckily, you won’t be disappointed at any time of day. The Parisian-inspired décor and well prepared international café fare are what has made it one of Bahrain’s most popular spots. The menu is filled with tempting, gourmet dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which combine international flavours with an Arabian twist, and service is always efficient no matter how busy the branch gets. From decadent French toast with mascarpone and caramelised hazelnuts for breakfast, to pastas, risottos and burgers for lunch and dinner, it’s not hard to find something you love on this menu. Sure, it’s pricier than other places, but the quality and dining experience is always worth it. Sun-Thu 8am-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 8am-midnight (Adliya location 17 714 440).Othe locations: A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (17 583 939).
Highly Commended The Orangery At The Orangery, your experience starts from the moment you drive up, as you admire the classic conservatory-style structure and quaint British influence. It's easy to feel that you are treating yourself, as you get comfortable among the cushions and begin to peruse the menu designed by award-winning restaurant Masso’s master Chef Susy Massetti. Known for taking classic dishes and making them exceptional, the kitchen team has managed to fill the breakfast and all-day menus with familiar favourites boasting gourmet twists. From the trio of delicious hummus to a particularly divine Nutella pain perdu and award-winning afternoon tea – what’s not to like at this pretty little spot? Open daily 8am-10pm. Palace Boutique Hotel, Block 338, Adliya (17 369 696).
jones the grocer This Australian gourmet café seems to have taken over the world and Bahrain’s only location opened just last year to much fanfare. After all, it won our coveted Best Newcomer accolade at the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards 2015 for good reason. Morning, noon and night, this Amwaj-based eatery is a foodie haven, with inventive dishes on the menu, using high-quality ingredients, as well as a selection of products on display, which you can buy to take home with you. Amwaj Islands might be a bit of a trek for many, but everything is prepared to a high standard, served by friendly wait-staff and reasonably-priced considering the quality. It’s worth the journey. Open daily 8am-11pm. Floating City, Amwaj Islands (77 770 055).
Best Family Eatery winner Rosso Italian cuisine is always a big hit with the kids. Spag bol and margharita pizza – how can you go wrong? That’s just one of the reasons we love this family-friendly eatery, which has scooped our Best Family Restaurant for two years in a row and has been awarded with the Highly Commended accolade for Italian this year. It’s a spot with style; the venue is bright and airy, with large tables for big family gatherings, and plenty of delicious sharing dishes. It also happens to be based in one of Bahrain’s most family-friendly resorts, and right next to the dancing fountains which mesmerise the little ones every hour. We love that it has added a relaxed, Saturday brunch, which is great for singles, couples and families alike. We’re sold. Open Sun-Mon, Wed-Thu 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6pm-11pm. Fri-Sat noon-11pm. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111). Highly Commended Prego Prego, at the Royal Golf Club, is a great choice for families. The décor is modern, featuring muted Mediterranean colours, and the vibe is rustic and relaxed. Prego’s menu features creative salads and an extensive pasta selection that includes the option to create your own dish with a choice of pasta shapes, sauces and meat or fish. Pizzas and calzones are also available in abundance and prepared perfectly in the wood-fired pizza oven before diners’ eyes. Prices are very reasonable and, during the cooler months, there is a lovely outside decked area to sit back and relax on (next to a kids’ playground, too). As Prego is located in the lush and green surroundings of the Royal Golf Club, there is the feeling of getting away from it all out in the countryside. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-11pm. The Royal Golf Club, Riffa Views (17 750 777).
Pizza Express Everyone loves a pizza, and for years this popular Italian spot in Amwaj Lagoon has scooped top prizes at our annual awards ceremony. A family-friendly eatery, the deal for children is just too good to resist – they can order a pizza or pasta, then get a free appetiser, drink and dessert. Plus, they even have the opportunity to get messy in the kitchen with the chefs and actually make their own pizza. In the meantime, mum and dad can enjoy a range of great signature Pizza Express, dishes, which are renowned all over the world. It's time to dig into the doughballs. Open Sun-Wed: 11am-11pm, Thur-Sat: 11am-11:30pm. Amwaj Lagoon, Amwaj Islands (16 010 524).
Best Seafood winner La Mer With an amazing vista and top-class chefs, La Mer is a refined seafood restaurant at the stunning five-star Sofitel hotel. The restaurant is tastefully decorated; simple white walls and dark wood floors allow the sea views to take centre stage. Staff are friendly, professional and, importantly, they know the menu, and come armed with suggestions for a great meal. The typical French dishes are creative, stunningly-presented and well-prepared. With each mouthful the chefs’ skills and understanding of seafood are demonstrated. For a special, romantic evening, La Mer is always top on our list and it’s won the Best Romantic award for a number of years. It might be expensive, but it’s well-worth the treat, especially if you’re looking to impress your loved one. Open Thu-Sat 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Sun-Wed 7pm-11pm. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363). Highly Commended The Fish Market The Fish Market, located at Al Bander Hotel & Resort, is a Time Out favourite. Overlooking a private beach and sea, this is a perfect setting for a great seafood restaurant. A display boat holds a bountiful choice of fresh fish, shellfish and a giant white shell offers lobsters nestled on a bed of ice. The staff are friendly when helping with your food choices (it’s very easy to misjudge and over-order). Even if you do end up with mountains of seafood, everything is well-cooked; flaky, juicy, crunchy (where it should be) and flavourful. Your stomach will certainly be satisfied, although your wallet will take quite a bashing as this top-quality seafood comes at a steep price. Despite that, it’s always busy here on weekends, so make sure you book your table in advance. Once you arrive, you’ll enjoy the warm, relaxed atmosphere that’s great for families, friends and date nights. There’s something for all tastes (as long as you like seafood, of course) and the venue and atmosphere here are hard to beat. Open daily 12.30pm-11pm.Al Bander Hotel & Resort, Sitra (17 701 201).
Best Steakhouse winner Plums Victorian mediums knew the value of smoke and mirrors. And as you step into Plums, past the gothic empty black picture frames on black walls, through the low lights that obscure its little nooks and corners, it’s clear such showmanship endures into the 21st century. Plums is shot through with ceremony and drama. After your meal, you’re presented with a dry-ice confectionary rigged with chocolates and mini ice-cream cones. It’s a sensory maze designed to delight and confuse. However, unlike the conjurers of the past who were all style and no substance, Plums delivers where it really matters. The trickery doesn’t mask deficiencies, rather enhances quality. Scallops are seared to the quick, layered with fragrant truffle. Sides are well-judged and unfussy. The carefully sourced steaks are charred with precision and swell with flavour. The Ritz-Carlton service doesn’t let you down either, as the staff are knowledgeable, efficient and, most importantly, unobtrusive. The theatre of dining – in some places a lost art due the propensity for earthy simplicity – is alive and well at Plums. Take your seats and enjoy the show. Daily 7pm-11.30pm. The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Seef (17 580 000).
Highly Commended Cut by Wolfgang Puck Now for the absolute antithesis of your rough ’n’ ready roadside steakhouse. Wolfgang Puck and his Cut team (at the glitzy Four Seasons) go all out to make your night a special one – but quality comes with a price. After entering, greeted by a sea of smiling faces, there follows a maître d' proffering huge slabs of wagyu beef draped boastfully over an arm like fine jewellery. They hold forth on the different cuts, expound on the marbling and elaborate on the lineage and origins of the beef with expert acuity. And you will – of course – order steak. And what steak it is. The range of mustards is lordly, too. Privilege isn’t cheap, though, and prices are possibly the highest on the island, but evenings like this shouldn’t be a humdrum, everyday occurrence anyway. Damage to wallets put gleefully out of mind, it’s easily one of Bahrain’s best. Open Mon-Tue noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Wed-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm; Fri 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm; Sat-Sun 7pm-11pm. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
The Meat Co A huge three-storey building towering impressively over the centre of Adliya, The Meat Co. is a South African-style steakhouse chain that aims to bring superior beef and a carnival atmosphere to the Middle East. A low-lit, buzzy venue, The Meat Co. combines the intimacy and quality of a high-end restaurant with the laid-back vibe of a neighbourhood eatery. You relax instantly into its easy-going atmosphere. A quick look at the menu stops you from getting too comfortable, as quality steaks come with premium prices, but there’s enough choice on the large menu to cater to any pocket. From T-bones that tip the scales at a hefty 400 grams to a classier wagyu fillet, the range of cuts on offer is extensive. And even vegetarians and pescetarians can get their fill of deliciously cooked, well-prepared cuisine here, so don't be put off. Thankfully, the kitchen team knows exactly what to do with their steaks. Cuts come perfectly prepared with an ample selection of sides and sauces to suit your palate. You’ve probably passed this place a thousand times – now it’s time to step inside. Sat-Tue 12.30pm- 11.30pm, Wed-Fri 12.30pm-midnight. The Meat Co, Adliya (17 742 080).
Best Americas winner Margarita Mexicana Live music, a cosy ambience and the enthusiastic, traditionally-dressed staff make any dining experience at Margarita Mexicana a real treat. The food might be basic in its presentation, but it’s vibrant in flavour and is an authentic and impressive representation of Tex-Mex fare, particularly considering the reasonable prices for a five-star hotel venue. The menu caters to all degrees of Mexican cuisine aficionados, with options ranging from the classic to the exotic, and a dedicated section for Tex-Mex lovers includes dishes like chimichangas and fajitas. Also regularly on offer are special, limited edition menus which celebrate the vibrancy and variety of Mexico’s cuisine. No matter when you go, make sure you order the signature dish – the guacamole, which is made live at your table using huge avocados imported specially from Mexico. It’s rustic and delicious. Open Sun-Fri 6pm-midnight. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Highly commended Big Texas BBQ and Waffle House Last year’s Highly Commended Newcomer arrived on the scene to much fanfare, as it offers a unique taste of true southern American cuisine in the heart of Juffair. The wooden interiors and casual setting are more upscale than your regular spit-and-sawdust type venue, but Big Texas BBQ and Waffle House is still down-to-earth, thanks to a buzzing atmosphere, largely American crowd and nightly live music. Fourteen-hour applewood-smoked beef brisket, deep fried pickles and plenty of waffle varieties are just a few of the best-selling dishes you can expect to find at this US venue. And, since last year, the restaurant has also launched an excellent-value brunch and express lunch, which has gone down so well it's held on to its award. Open daily noon-2am. Best Western Olive – Juffair (1736 0063). Senor Paco’s Despite what people think, it’s not just about the atmosphere at this jovial Mexican restaurant, which many of the island’s diners would cite as their favourite. Yes, it gets rowdy thanks to the crowd-pleasing live music and karaoke opportunities and, yes, the décor is highly-themed and kitsch, but the food also adds to the occasion. With more than 60 classic Tex-Mex dishes on the menu, everyone can find something to their taste and while it’s on the stodgy side, it’s certainly good enough to complement the notably popular vibe. Just don’t forget to don your sombrero. And make sure you book in advance, especially on weekends when it’s often full. Open daily noon-3pm, 6.30pm-midnight. Adliya, Bahrain (17 725 873).
Best Asian winner re/ Asian Last year, this high-end fusion Asian restaurant scooped our most prestigious accolade – Restaurant of the Year – and this year it scoops the Best Asian award. And deservedly so. Since opening, the restaurant has introduced a new kind of fine-dining to the island, with an expert kitchen team, trained by notable celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, transforming regional classics into refined, beautifully flavoured and elegantly presented dishes. From the contemporary, 50th floor setting to the highly professional servers and buzzing atmosphere, re Asian Cuisine continues to set standards high on Bahrain’s restaurant landscape. This year, the team has also launched a leisurely Saturday brunch experience which is excellent. In general, a dining experience here is pricey, but for special occasions this restaurant comes highly recommended and is certainly one to visit. Open Sun and Tue 7pm-11pm; Wed-Fri 7pm-11.30pm; Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-11pm. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000). Highly Commended Wok Wok was once an excellent pan-Asian restaurant but since revamping itself as a 100 percent Vietnamese spot, it’s even better. Thanks to the Vietnamese chef, the food is beautifully presented, fine-dining fare, but entirely authentic and true to its roots. Everything from the salads to the pho is perfectly seasoned, boasting subtle yet spot-on flavours. Dim lighting, soft music and intimate table seating, either in the beautiful Asian-inspired main dining area or on the stunning garden terrace – this is why Wok is one of our favourites year after year. Meanwhile, staff are always eager to enhance the occasion – just let them know if you’re celebrating, and they’ll find a way to make your experience more special. Open Wed-Mon 7pm-11pm. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Wu Asian Restaurant & Lounge Art Rotana’s relatively new Asian restaurant boasts a spectacular setting with views across the beach to the sea giving you a seaside holiday feel. A variety of indoor and outdoor seating areas, with an overall chic yet casual atmosphere, adds to this vibe, leaving you relaxed. Wu, which means “five” in Chinese, offers a bevy of contemporary cuisine inspired by popular dishes from China, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand and Korea, and since opening late last year, the venue has launched a range of themed evenings and food deals, which have been drawing in the crowds for the value and quality of food. Aside from the food, we love the addition of a DJ who keeps up the contemporary vibes. A great place to go with friends. Open Mon-Thu 7pm-11pm; Fri-Sat noon-4pm, 6pm-midnight. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Best Bahraini winner Saffron by Jena Bakery Considering Saffron by Jena Bakery has been named Best Bahraini Restaurant for three years in a row at the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards, it’s no wonder that the food is excellent, and when it comes to finding a stand-out Bahraini breakfast, there’s no better place to look. The original branch of Saffron (or Za’fran in Arabic) is located in the heart of Souq Al Qaysariya, a renovated area of Muharraq, and was conceived by Narise Qambar, who is also behind the hugely popular Jena Bakery, in collaboration with the Bahrain Authority of Culture and Antiquities. This particular venue is a transformed, traditional Bahraini house, boasting a glass floor under which a traditional date press lies preserved. In Manama, you’ll find a smaller, more modern branch in the Bab Al Bahrain Mall and another located in the magnificent Riffa Fort, where you can spend hours working your way through the fantastic Bahraini breakfast, gazing out at the surrounding Haniniya valley. You have one choice of breakfast, but one platter is more than enough to feed two hungry patrons. It comes with eggs and tomato, foul, balaleet and plenty more traditional choices, which are delicious. For a cultural experience and a true taste of what Bahrain has to offer, Saffron should top your list. Open daily 8am-10pm. Near the NBB strip, Muharraq (1362 3191). Other locations: Riffa Fort; Bab Al Bahrain Mall, Manama.
Highly Commended Emma-Wash Getting a Highly Commended Bahraini restaurant accolade in both 2015 and 2016, this humble eatery has won the hearts of the island’s foodies since launching its first Budaiya branch and now, because of its popularity, it has expanded by opening a new spot in Hamala, too. It has all the quirky design elements of the original restaurant – graffitied walls that have been scribbled on by its customers, traditional sharing benches downstairs and majlis-style seating upstairs. Your authentic dishes are placed on your plastic “tablecloth” minutes after ordering, served in pans by the friendly staff along with piping-hot, freshly made khubz (bread). It’s the down-to-earth atmosphere and style we love, and the Hamala branch is no different to the Budaiya venue. And, with another Isa Town branch on the way, Emmawash’s popularity isn’t about to wane, thanks to its accessibility and sheer value for money. This is an affordable spot with plenty of character. Open daily 6am-1pm, 7pm-11pm. Budaiya Highway (17 309 030). Other location: Hamala, near Souq Waqif.
Naseef Café It might be homemade mango ice-cream that made Naseef Café famous more than 100 years ago, but now it’s the Bahraini breakfast that keeps all the customers returning for repeat visits. The quaintly presented platter, which comes with a brightly coloured dellah full of delicious karak chai (some of the best on the island), includes generous portions of foul, balila, balaleet, eggs with tomato and more, each dish just as delicious as the last. Once you’re done, grab a scoop of their famous ice-cream and meander the labyrinthine alleyways of Manama. Open daily 7am-10pm. Bab Al Bahrain Mall, Manama Souq (39 622 882).
Best Chinese winner Soie Soie, which is the French word for Chinese silk, is an opulent, award-winning Oriental restaurant. You can't help but be impressed when you walk in; the high ceilings make way for beautiful scarlet drapes accented by deep, dark wood. It’s a stunning space and the kitchen team serves up some delicious, authentic food, plus a few more Asian dishes besides (we love the Tom Yum soup and the lamb in black bean sauce and the spicy Szechuan chicken is excellent, too). Whether you’re looking to impress your date or want to celebrate a special occasion with friends, this ticks all the boxes. Open Sun-Fri 7pm-11.30pm. Sheraton Hotel Bahrain, Manama (17 533 533).
Highly Commended David’s Stir Fry Crazy Soie, which is the French word for Chinese silk, is an opulent, award-winning Oriental restaurant. You can't help but be impressed when you walk in; the high ceilings make way for beautiful scarlet drapes accented by deep, dark wood. It’s a stunning space and the kitchen team serves up some delicious, authentic food, plus a few more Asian dishes besides (we love the Tom Yum soup and the lamb in black bean sauce and the spicy Szechuan chicken is excellent, too). Whether you’re looking to impress your date or want to celebrate a special occasion with friends, this ticks all the boxes. Open Sun-Fri 7pm-11.30pm. Sheraton Hotel Bahrain, Manama (17 533 533).
Best European winner Masso Award-winning chef Susy Massetti has captured the hearts of Bahrain’s foodies with her style of farm-to-table cooking – many of the top-quality ingredients used in the kitchen are picked straight from their Budaiya farm that morning. The stylish, chic venue always draws in the crowds, no matter what day of the week, and the food, which has plenty of Italian and Mediterranean influence, is consistently impressive. The menu changes with the season, too, so you’ll never get bored of going back for more. At least once, make sure you order the incredible cedar-plank salmon fillet with the honey glaze and crispy shallots, which is always on offer (you’ll be dreaming of it for weeks afterwards). Overall, portions are generous (adding more value for money) and flavours are spot on. Open Mon-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Fri-Sat noon-4pm, 7pm-11pm. Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (17 721 061). Highly Commended La Vinoteca Barcelona One of the island’s only upscale Spanish restaurants, La Vinoteca Barcelona is an attractive destination for small bites and tapas plates, or to sample a full-on degustation menu. The food is flavourful and expertly prepared, using high-quality ingredients, and the modern venue is stylishly decorated and generally buzzing. In particular, it serves some of the best patatas bravas we’ve tried, plus an excellent seafood paella that’s worth splashing out for. The outdoor garden area, which it shares with sister restaurant Café Amsterdam, is also a highlight in cooler weather. Head there on a Saturday, too, and you can enjoy a lovely brunch with a medley of Spanish and international breakfast and lunch options, as well as family-friendly entertainment, too. Open Sun-Thu noon-midnight, Fri-Sat 7am-midnight. Block 338, Adliya (32 000 171).
Le Domain  French restaurant Le Domain  offers a petite menu which emphasises seafood, but when combined with steakhouse Le Sauvage, which shares the same floor space, it means everyone is catered for. No effort is spared to create a superlative dining experience here, with many little touches that emphasise elegance at this French-inspired dining room. It also offers some of the best views in town from its floor-to-ceiling windows from the 34th floor. The servers are passionate and knowledgeable about their menu, which they are proud to showcase. Le Domain  also prides itself on presentation to match its food. For example, the fish en papillote arrives in a copper pan, a tinfoil dome is snipped open ceremoniously to reveal locally-sourced sea bass drenched in herbs, spices and fresh tomato sauce. As you prepare to devour your meal, a trolley of olive oil and condiments is wheeled round, and your server will suggest what will complement each dish. Considering how exceptionally low the prices are (the most expensive item is BD13), and how luxe everything is, those who overlook this dining venue are missing out on a gastronomic treat. Open Sat-Thu 7pm-midnight, Fri noon-4pm, 7pm-midnight. The Domain Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Diplomatic Area (16 000 000).
Best Indian winner Rasoi by Vineet The ability to turn notoriously heavy Indian dishes into something truly refined is a feat of skilled technician – and it’s one you’ll find in abundance at this award-winning restaurant. That’s why Rasoi by Vineet, by the world’s only two Michelin-starred chef for Indian cuisine, has won our Best Indian accolade in the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards in both 2015 and 2016. With a stunning venue full of beautiful design elements, and a menu boasting originality and quality, the attention to detail here is undeniable. This extends to the lovely servers, who are armed with extensive knowledge of the menu. The selection hasn’t changed much since last year, but with such incredible food, this hardly matters. You can choose between classics, such as the ever-popular butter chicken, but it’s the contemporary fusion section of the menu we’re most interested in. This includes a fabulous and flavourful Uttapam lasagne, rice pancakes layered with aubergine chutney, baby aubergine and topped with crisp iddiyappam for texture. We also can’t get enough of the sambhar podi lobster rubbed in South Indian spices and laid on top of lemon-peanut rice, beetroot moilee and coconut-coriander. Welcome to flavourtown. Open Sat-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Fri 1pm-4pm, 7pm-11pm. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Highly Commended Nirvana The opulence of India’s royal palaces is reflected in the lush red décor and intimate setting at The Ritz-Carlton’s lavish Indian restaurant. This is also highlighted by the traditional and tasty dishes, which are expertly prepared by the hotel’s chefs. You'll be sure to have excellent service, but expect steeper prices in comparison to other Indian spots on this list. Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 586 499).
Lanterns From its brightly coloured, wildly-popular original branch in Budaiya, Lanterns has taken over Bahrain. It now has branches in Adliya, Riffa, Durrat Al Bahrain and Juffair. Synonymous with flavourful Indian food in general, we advise a trip to any of its branches but, in particular, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Adliya venue, with its bazaar-style interiors, indoor lounge area and outdoor garden section. It also boasts an excellent atmosphere and consistently great food. We highly recommend most dishes, but whatever you order always make sure you get a side of rich, creamy dahl makhani – it’s one of the specialties. Open daily noon-midnight. Various locations including road 3828, Block 338, Adliya (17 250 999). Other locations: Budaiya Highway; Riffa; Juffair; Durrat Al Bahrain.
Best Italian winner Primavera Every staff member at The Ritz-Carlton’s upscale, fine-dining Italian spot, from the waiter to the manager and the chef, is Italian, and they are rightly proud of this. It certainly adds to the authentic trattoria-style experience. The bright, airy venue is stylish and contemporary, with quirky design elements and lovely views over the hotel’s gardens. As for the menu, it’s filled with tempting, original dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Oliver Glowig and each perfectly-portioned, beautifully presented dish is as tasty as the last. Sit inside, surrounded by the contemporary, tasteful décor, or outside on the intimate terrace area; either way you’ll have a great experience, as this place is consistently brilliant. Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm. The Ritz-Carlton, Seef (17 586 499).
Highly Commended La Pergola With a new look and revamped menu, La Pergola certainly upped its game in 2016. The Italian stalwart at The Gulf Hotel offers an upscale dining experience, with excellent, friendly service and tasty, home-style food. The selection of dishes on offer is wide without being overwhelming, while the highlight of any meal here are the delicious Italian desserts, which we urge you to save room for. Open Sat-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Fri noon-4pm, 7pm-11pm. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 746 419).
Rosso Italian cuisine is always a big hit with the kids. Spag bol and margharita pizza – how can you go wrong? That’s just one of the reasons we love this family-friendly eatery, which has scooped our Best Family Restaurant for two years in a row and has been awarded with the Highly Commended accolade for Italian this year. It’s a spot with style; the venue is bright and airy, with large tables for big family gatherings, and plenty of delicious sharing dishes. It also happens to be based in one of Bahrain’s most family-friendly resorts, and right next to the dancing fountains which mesmerise the little ones every hour. We love that it has added a relaxed, Saturday brunch, which is great for singles, couples and families alike. We’re sold. Open Sun-Mon, Wed-Thu 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6pm-11pm. Fri-Sat noon-11pm. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Best Japanese winner Bushido Bushido’s grand size and elegant entrance offers a sense of occasion upon arrival. With dim lighting and a sleek, Asian décor, this place is Oriental chic and is a great spot for any special occasion, which is why it’s bagged our Best Japanese restaurant award this year. The servers know the recently updated menu inside out and come armed with helpful suggestions. Maki, robata and teppanyaki options sit next to more creative fusion dishes and it’s all expertly prepared, beautifully presented and full of well-balanced flavours. This place has also scooped the top prize for Best Business Lunch award every single year the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards has been going – an unheard of achievement across Time Out GCC. It’s just pretty hard to beat, in terms of setting (we love the floating outdoor terrace), quality (the ingredients are great), variety (there are more than ten options) and value for money. While it’s primarily Japanese in its food offering, there are other more international flavours for less inclined diners, as well as a selection of eight excellent bento boxes. It’ll impress anyone. Open daily noon-3pm, 7-11.30pm.. Bushido Restaurant and Lounge, Seef (17 583 555).
Highly Commended Meisei Chef Michael Kyu-Lee is known on the island as something of a mad culinary genius. At Meisei he uses French cooking techniques and combines them with Osaka and Korean flavours and styles to create a rather large menu of unique fusion dishes. Think yuzu jerk chicken quesadillas or bulgogi pizza; kobe dol sot and miso-braised beef short ribs. Everything is as surprising as it is enjoyable, and any meal here is only enhanced by the trendy, three-storey venue, which boasts upstairs and downstairs seating areas, a sushi bar and robata grill. Admittedly, however, service could do with a little finessing and, sometimes, Meisei lacks atmosphere or the influx of guests it deserves. But the food is so good it won’t matter once you’ve settled in. After your meal head to the roof, where you'll find crowds for the regular, and popular, nightlife events. Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-2am. Block 338, Adliya (17 007 770).
Imari Sweeping sea views of Manama through floor-to-ceiling windows add a sense of drama and romance to any meal at Imari. Although the menu is decidedly authentic Japanese, the venue is trendy and split into a chic lounge, casual bar and intimate main dining area. The selection is fairly small in comparison to most other Japanese restaurants in Bahrain, but dishes are delicate and delicious. It’s all very affordable, too. This year, the restaurant also debuted on our Best Romantic Restaurant shortlist. The trendy blue and white interiors are ideal for a fun night out, while the stunning vista from the 31st floor is memorable, and the authentic, tasty food completes a great experience. Open Sun-Fri noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight; Sat noon-3pm, 6pm-midnight. The Domain Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Diplomatic Area (16 000 000).
Best MENA winner Takht Jamsheed The plush, Persian-style interiors are welcoming at Takht Jamsheed, as are the very hospitable staff. Chairs are comfortable and large tables are set up for big gatherings of friends and family, while a traditional menu of Iranian classics is offered. What makes it a winner in our eyes is the food, though. Each authentic dish is intensely aromatic and richly-flavoured, while meats are extremely tender. This place might have been around for years, but its popularity and standards have never waned, and is certainly one for your must-do list. Open Sat-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Fri noon-4pm, 7pm-11pm. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Highly Commended Pashawat For an evening of lively Arabic music, fun bellydance performances and excellent Lebanese and Persian cuisine, the traditionally decorated Pashawat is extremely popular on the island. The set menu provides a variety of delicious mezze, grills and desserts, which you must save room for. Open Mon-Fri 7pm-11.30pm. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Golestan Well-thought out flavour combinations are created by the expert chefs at the Sheraton Bahrain’s opulent Iranian restaurant. Marinated lamb kebabs, delicately fragrant saffron rice and traditionally spiced stews are spot on and served by pleasant waiters. The atmosphere here is fairly muted, with traditional tunes playing in the background, which provides a relaxing dining experience in an elegant setting. We also recommend the business lunch offering that meat and Persian cuisine lovers will most certainly enjoy. The options change all the time, but you’ll always get to choose from a couple of authentic Persian dishes, such as chelo chicken kebab, marinated mince lamb and a trio of delicious rice, alongside freshly made bread and dips, which are a treat. Open Mon-Sat 12.30pm-2.45pm, 7.30pm-11.30pm. Sheraton Bahrain Hotel, Manama (17 533 533).
Best Newcomer winner The Foundry Urban American bistro The Foundry has had everyone talking in the few months since it opened. The founders of gourmet deli Sage & Sirloin have provided Bahrain's diners with an upmarket, quality restaurant with a reasonable price tag – something that this dining scene has been missing for a while now. Red brick walls, exposed steel beams and leather seats meet you at every corner – this industrial décor, reminiscent of a New York loft apartment, is just one of the reasons the venue is quickly becoming one of Bahrain’s hottest spots. As for the food, everything is made in-house – even the salmon is smoked on the premises – and it’s clear the kitchen team knows what it's doing. With a classy, lovely setting, great food, knowledgeable service and value for money, The Foundry is the kind of place you want to go back to time and time again. We’ve been waiting for a place like this to open. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-2am. Block 338, Adliya (69 960 000).
Highly Commended Teatro Teatro isn’t international and it’s not fusion, but it is a collision of classic dishes from across the East and West. You’ll find sushi from Japan, salads from Malaysia, curry from Thailand, tikka from India. Then there’s pizza, pasta and risotto also on the menu. Thanks to chefs of varying nationalities, the team can pull off all these dishes and then some. Watch them at work in the open kitchens, while you enjoy a pleasant dining experience in a sophisticated, modern and brightly decorated venue that provides an intimate ambiance for dinner. Open Sun-Fri 6pm-1am. Downtown Rotana, Government Avenue, Manama (13 119 999). Fatto Plenty of hype surrounded the opening of this Italian restaurant in Seef in 2016. It's from the makers of nearby, award-winning Café Lilou and, so far, it lives up to expectations. Aesthetically it’s bold, with quirky wooden panelling, exposed brick columns and split-level bay windows. The atmosphere is also drummed up by a swing-style soundtrack and an open kitchen. It’s full of subtle touches and, importantly, great food, such as the delicious, star-shaped signature pizza, the creamy ricotta ravioli and slow-cooked veal ragu. Standards are consistent, and we hope it remains that way. Open Sat-Wed noon-11pm; Thu-Fri noon-11.30pm. Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (66 778 822).