Reviews, pictures, contact and booking details for the best European restaurants in Bahrain, part of the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards.
Whether you’re looking for Spanish paella, French onion soup or flavours of the Mediterranean, the food of Europe is renowned for a very good reason. Classic cuisine and fresh flair go hand-in-hand as Time Out has found out by putting every restaurant through their paces, assessing factors including quality of food, ambience and service. Popular or relatively unknown, we’ve gone undercover to find out what you’re getting for your money at each venue.
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.
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.
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.
Café Amsterdam started out offering a selection of Dutch and British cuisine, but has since expanded the menu to include classic dishes from around the world, including steaks, lobster and even a whole vegan section. And the venue is as eclectic as the menu, with a quaint conservatory area, a casual dining room and even a sports bar upstairs. Despite its confused identity, the quality of food is always top-notch here and its outdoor garden area is a major draw. We particularly recommend spending a leisurely Friday afternoon, sampling many of the dishes from the menu in the brunch offering.
While Fusions is a quiet venue, because of its petite size and low ceilings it feels cosy not lonely. Service is excellent, with that equal mix of professionalism and friendliness that is rare to find. The menu is concise, with just a small selection in each section, but it also includes an eclectic choice and aims to suit meat eaters and vegetarians alike. The food, which is prepared in an open kitchen, is delicious. For starters, try the jalapeño prawns with mixed leaves and beetroot in a zingy dressing. The succulent tandoori salmon also impresses, and we highly recommend it. Among the many high points of a dining experience at Fusions, it’s the beautiful views of the hotel’s lush gardens and twinkling lights of Juffair beyond from this top-floor restaurant that steals the show. And, thanks to the reasonable prices, it’s the kind of place you come back to time- and-time again.
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.
It’s difficult to categorise this restaurant, as it offers an eclectic, international menu highlighted by the chefs’ serious skills and European cooking techniques. Despite its name, My Café is far more than a casual eatery, but it’s not so upscale that you need to don your finest suit. The setting inside is sophisticated, while the outdoor garden area is romantic and intimate. Meanwhile, the menu is full of creative, gourmet dishes, combining a medley of international flavours and Arabian edge. Think wagyu beef carpaccio with fresh figs and feta cheese spheres; homemade ravioli with wild mushrooms and yoghurt foam; roasted crayfish with linguini and braised artichokes. And it’s always prettily presented and impressively created. So much effort has clearly gone into every aspect of this place and yet none of it feels pretentious, overdone or unwelcoming. Instead, the team takes this wonderful food and then adds a family-style wholesomeness to it which, in turn, plucks at the heartstrings as well as the taste buds on each visit here.
Nicole’s exterior stands out from its neighbours with its bright Mediterranean colours that contrast with its cool and muted palate of colours within. With two floors and a rooftop garden there is plenty of space to cater for large groups of families and friends. The vast menu, which encompasses the entire Mediterranean, ensures there is something to suit all tastes, with a large choice of tapas and starter plates, pastas, pizzas, mains and mezze to choose from. Just this year, the venue has also introduced a fantastic, reasonably-priced à la carte weekend brunch, which also comes highly recommended. And now, twice a month on a Friday, a DJ entertains on the rooftop.
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.
One of the first places in the area to bring the now very popular Bahraini breakfast to the table, Villa Mamas is still known for being a good place to start your day. Friendly staff help you pick the best dishes on the iPad menus and you can sup on juices while you decide from a medley of local and Mediterranean dishes. We suggest the balaleet, eggs in tomato sauce, and anything with mahyawa (a fermented fish paste that tastes better than it sounds) in it. It’s fairly pricey here, but there's a pleasant atmosphere with homely décor and comfortable seating. Make sure you get there early though, as it’s always busy.
Zoe, a perennial favourite on the local restaurant map, has stood the test of time this year. Classic décor and chilled background music set the scene for relaxed dining that feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of its busy Block 338 location in the city. The menu is, admittedly, fairly limited in choice, but still manages to offer plenty of variety, with pizzas, pastas, meat, poultry and seafood specialties. Every dish is packed with flavour and beautifully presented, from a simple leek and potato soup to the more flamboyant chargrilled Norwegian salmon. Pudding lovers will be happy and chocolate fans are also in for a treat with the dessert “Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate” a standout on the menu, three separate creations that tastes every bit as good as it looks.