The restaurants and activities in this Bahrain neighbourhood
Time Out Bahrain staff
Known as ‘the Green Zone’ for various reasons, the popular cry of Bahrain’s party people used to be – ‘Amwaj - well it’s very pretty but we can’t live there, there’s nothing to do’.
And for a long time they were correct, villas and apartment blocks sprung up at the speed of light but apart from Al Osra and the little 24-hour supermarket, which never actually seemed to be open, there really was nothing there.
The Dragon Hotel opened in 2009 and started to attract visitors with its regular party nights such as the brilliant Café del Mar and Friday jazz brunches at its restaurant lounge Muju – which often move out onto the terrace.
And slowly but surely, the long-awaited outlets in the Lagoon began to open until now there are more than 25 up and running. From the Waitrose supermarket, much beloved of the British ex-pat community, to the MAZ business centre, salons, spas and a wealth of new restaurants, with several more due to come online in the coming months.
There are also festivals, markets, sports and a whole host of other things to do.
We bring you a round-up of what’s available in The Lagoon and around the islands.
Restaurants The Cave: Looks just like its name with Rainforest Café inspired décor, kind of Indiana Jones meets George of the Jungle. The food’s a mix of Asian fusion and Arabic with a chef brought in from one of Pakistan’s five-star hotels. It can seat up to 320 diners and aims to be a good value eatery. Visit after dark to get the full effect of the stone-age exterior. Call 39606231.
Leewan Al-Khoor: Traditional Bahraini cuisine right on the water next to Waitrose. Opening hours are 12.30pm to 11pm and the venue can seat up to 120. Average price is around BD4.5 per person. Call 16010666 or 33132437.
Burger Lounge: Burgers as fine dining? Not so sure about the concept but that’s what’s promised here with all Angus beef fashioned into creations such as the farmer burger, royal burger and, of course, the lounge burger. There’s also a wide selection of salads and appetizers. Burger Lounge seats 80 and is open from noon to midnight. Call 77055772 or 39158592.
La Veranda Café: Much anticipated younger sister to the hugely popular Veranda in Adliya and due to open this month, the café will serve an a la carte menu blending traditional Eastern dishes with the latest trends from around the world in an inside/outside setting with Veranda’s traditional sheesha. Call 16010099.
Houseboat: One of Time Out’s fave Amwaj eateries (just a shame it’s not a real houseboat, now that would be really something for The Lagoon). Offering enormous portions of Pan-Asian cuisine, with Thai a particular speciality, Houseboat has a great atmosphere with indoor seating and abundant outdoor space – ideal for the current cooler evenings.
The stir fries are a great favourite and this place seems to be building a loyal following with its trendy contemporary décor and friendly, knowledgeable staff.
Johnny Rockets: Family favourite, traditional American-style diner with yummy burgers, fries and chicken all served with a hint of the 1950s. Make sure you try the lemonade, it’s delish. Call 16011199.
Mei n Yu Lounge: Cleverly named (pronounce it me and you), the menu is a la carte and has influences from Asia, Europe and America. You’ll see seafood tagliatelle next to crayfish thermidor and a great selection of grills, homemade burgers and Thai fish cakes.
The deserts are proper comfort food, we particularly like the banana fritters (echoes of long ago school dinners) and it’s, so far, the only lincensed venue in The Lagoon. Call 16010160.
The Persian Room: Serves up a host of regionally-inspired cuisine including mezze, kebabs, rice dishes, stews and a range of fantastic desserts. On the last Thursday of the month, there is even a special ‘Taste of Persia’ night, where for just BD8++ per person you can sample a number of dishes from the menu. Opening hours Sat-Wed noon-midnight, Thu-Fri noon-1.30am. Call 16010166.
Tea Club: With upwards of 500 different teas this place, which relocated from tiny premises in Exhibition Road, is a connoisseur’s delight and a great alternative to the hundreds, or possibly even thousands, of coffee shops dotted around Bahrain.
It has a real community feel, a place to read the paper, chat or just while away the hours and it was also recently the venue for a recycling event by a group of young Bahrainis. Call 38887107.
Levante Café: Lebanese influenced but with international dishes and a big outdoor sheesha terrace. Call 16030393.
Curry Tree: Traditional Indian cuisine plus sandwiches and café drinks. The Curry Tree can seat 30 and, with an average price of BD6, it’s good value in such great surroundings. Find it upstairs at entrance 6. Call 16030660/16030661/39268415.
Beirut Café & Restaurant: Upstairs from Levante offering traditional Lebanese food with a big outdoor terrace and sheesha. Call 38329940 or 36060821.
Papa John’s (pizza), Chillies (burgers, steaks etc), Whopper Bar (posh Burger King), Pizza Express, Noodle Factory, Al Forno (Italian), Sarai (Middle Eastern) and others still to be announced.
Other Lagoon outlets include: ID Design - Swanky furnishings for Amwaj’s swanky homes – the Tuga Bakery – one of the first outlets to open and still a favourite for bread fresh from the oven and great pastries – Pink Diamond – sister to the Riffa outlet, selling designer clothing, accessories and all things sparkly – and Monica’s Chocolate Boutique, a chocoholic’s heaven.
Either already open or soon to launch are the Nail Bar, The Tailor Shop, Top Cut gents’ salon, Dinoura ladies’ spa, a pottery store and of course the ever-present Costa and Starbucks.
Not content with more restaurants than you can shake a stick at, The Lagoon also hosts regular festivals.
So far these have been monthly with the first organised by Diva Events in November. The Diva Festivals include music and dance performances, art displays and live art demonstrations, kids’ and family activities and lots of market stalls.
The next event will be on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 February from 3pm-11pm with the last one of the winter season taking place over the first weekend in March. For more details call 36226440. On March 8 and 9, the first of this year’s Blossom events to take place at The Lagoon will be The Art of Giving with a focus on local participants including painters, graphic designers, sculptors, photographers, architects and anything artistically related/inspired.
Blossom Events specialises in training and development for young Bahraini entrepreneurs and the public events are directed towards start-up businesses and local talents in need of exposure and endorsement. The concept behind the coming event is to steer art away from its usual galleries and exhibitions and introduce it to a new audience in a bazaar context.
Other festivals are also planned throughout the summer with various themes and performances to keep The Lagoon’s dining visitors entertained.
Amwaj Market runs at the marina once a month throughout the winter.
With around 70 stalls it offers everything from plants to artwork, clothes and shoes to chi-chi accessories and gifts.
Look out for the cupcakes, they’re sinful but super.
The events are usually on the first Saturday of the month with the next one scheduled for February 4. After that it’s March 3 and April 7 before they stop for the summer. For more information call 16030605.
New happenings at the island’s ‘oldest’ favourite
Catch up with what’s coming up at The Dragon.
One of the first entertainment venues to open on Amwaj, the Dragon Hotel, over the last couple of years, has become a stalwart of the islands’ social scene.
Muju, its contemporary gastronomic restaurant and lounge, has superb sea views and the international culinary creations of Chef Vito have made it a popular venue for dinner and cocktails either inside or on the outside terrace.
Friday Brunch at Muju has fast become a favourite with an extensive range of hot and cold dishes, inclusive drinks and a chilled-out vibe helped along by jazz sounds.
The venue regularly hosts events such as Café del Mar, bringing the best of Ibiza to Bahrain and, on those occasions, the place is really buzzing. Look out for coming performances.
The epitome of Middle Eastern hospitality, the Yamin Jana Mediterranean-style seafront Lounge is named after a famous Arabic phrase of celebration and welcome.
Set on the seafront of the Dragon, the lounge seats 140 guests on a multi-level, al fresco deck offering a Mediterranean-infused experience day and night.
There’s newly introduced live entertainment from Wednesday, through to Saturday night with Arabic singer Alphonse Bahri. Every Tuesday is ladies night and the daily lunch buffet runs from noon to 6pm for BD15++.
Another Dragon offering is the recently opened Corners Bar - Amwaj’s first and much-anticipated pub, a place to socialise and unwind and very much the place for watching sports with lots of well-placed screens showing the top events from around the world.
There’s a diverse selection of food, including traditional pub grub and even a new take-out menu!
Corners will be holding Amwaj’s first comedy night this month when comedians Terry Alderton and Noel Brodie hit our shores from the UK.
They’ll be performing at the Dragon’s sister venue Kicks in Juffair on February 9 and in Amwaj on Friday, February 10, as well as at Champs in Juffair.
There’s also a newly introduced quiz night with DJ Stevie George every Wednesday from 8PM with prizes for each of four rounds and a Snow Ball accumulator round that will roll on each week if not won.
Eco entrepreneurs in Amwaj
Young Bahrainis putting clutter to good use The last Amwaj Festival saw a group of young Bahrainis taking the challenge to break cultural norms and start the New Year with an initiative aimed at clearing out the clutter from the island’s homes and putting it go good use to help others.
With an initiative that was given the name ‘Let it go’ signifying the need for everyone to let go of their unwanted goodies a sale was held during the festival at the Tea Club where donated items were sold at reduced prices with donors having the option to receive a percentage of the cash or give it all to charity.
Items for sale included books, clothes, furniture, home appliances, electronics, genuine and vintage antiques, paintings as well as other items all in a near mint condition.
The event was such a success that the young organisers are now in the process of commercial registration and are hoping to be back for the next festival this month. For more information call 36767900/ 33660766/32221116
Mums in Amwaj
All things kids on the islands With its open space and beaches Amwaj is a great place for families and there’s a huge range of things for parents and little ones to do.
Mumsinbahrain – the oranisation run by mums for mums – has an affiliate group on the islands offering advice and information on all the following:
Amwaj Cooperative Playgroup Contact: Shaema Imam Phone: 3996 2478 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org A playgroup held on Mondays from 9am to 11am. Informative discussions every week along with a fun children’s activity. A great place to meet new mums.
Amwaj Gymnastics Phone: 3647 0217 Email:email@example.com Tumbling, low bar, floor beam and obstacle course. Help develop your child’s motor skills, strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and discipline.
Kindermusik Contact: Natasha Pinto Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Experience the positive effects of music through Kindermusik’s award-winning curriculum. Amwaj classes run on Tuesdays. 9:15am session for newborns to toddlers aged 15 months. 10:15am session is children aged 16 months to 4 years.
Once Upon a Story Time Contact: Amy Al-Otaibi Email:email@example.com Weekly themed stories, songs and rhymes for children aged 0 - 4 years. Craft session is available to children aged 2 and over. This term will involve 6 sessions beginning the week of February 5. The following are the days and times of the classes:
Amwaj Ages 0-4 yrs Wednesdays 3.15pm (Feb 8, 15, 22, 29, March 7 and 14)
Wednesdays 4.30pm (Feb 8, 15, 22, 29, March 7 and 14)
Thursdays 9am (Feb 9, 16, 23, March 1, 8, and 15)
Thursdays 10.15am (Feb 9, 16, 23, March 1, 8, and 15)
Thursdays 3.15pm (Feb 9, 16, 23, March 1, 8, and 15)
Fridays 9.30am ( Feb 10, 17, 24, March 2, 9 and 16)
Amwaj Ages 3-4 yrs only (optional parent attendance) Thursdays 4.30pm (Feb 9, 16, 23, March 1, 8, and 15)
Singing Time Contact: Lavina Faleiro Phone: 3642 2146 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Website:www.babysigningwithlavina.com Signing and signing with your baby. Communicate with your child before he/she learns to talk. Reduce tantrums, increase vocabulary and have fun
Yoga with Carina Contact: Carina Phone: 36294978 Email:email@example.com Yoga for Beginners - mixed class for beginners on Tala Island.
Pre-Natal Yoga - Classes for a more relaxed pregnancy. You can start from your 13th week of pregnancy.
Ladies Yoga – Beginners class for ladies only
Yoga Mums and Toddlers - The mothers are doing yoga while the toddlers are playing next to their mothers. Free trial class to first time participants.
Yoga with Lavina (Maharani Yoga) Contact: Lavina Faleiro Phone: 36422146 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Mum and Baby Yoga (newborn to sitting) - Yoga for Mums to promote post-natal recovery (healing from the inside out). Yoga for Baby to help with digestion, sleep and development. Gentle Yoga for both to promote bonding and relaxation.
Mum and Baby Yoga (crawlers to toddlers) - Strengthening and energising yoga for mum. Fun yoga and relaxation for two!
Pregnancy Yoga - A combination of breath awareness and practices, gentle poses for toning, stretching and relaxation.
Gentle Yoga - Classes focusing on joint mobility, muscle toning and relaxing. Suitable for beginners and those recovering from injury.
Family Yoga - Mixed class for mums, dads and children. Fun, energising and revitalising yoga for the whole family.
Toon Town Toon Town is located in Zawia Towers and is famous for giving haircuts to children in a fun way. Children can sit in toy cars watching Disney classics or Barney favourites while having their hair revamped! Top it off with a lollypop for great behaviour! No crowded waiting rooms and a large play area for siblings while awaiting their turn. A children’s drop off facility is also available. Zawia Towers, Amwaj 13616440 / 39217347.
5 5 Beauty Salon’s fabulous makeover and pamper birthday parties are pure girlie heaven for princesses and diva’s from the ages of 6 years and older. Choose pretty nail art for your manicure, a glamorous new hairstyle and glitzy make up to complete your amazing new look.
Top qualified stylists will make sure you and your friends are treated as every inch the star! Finish off your birthday party by showcasing the new you with a fashion show. Amwaj Lagoon Park 16010555.