Convincing my 6’ 2”, 17-year-old son to come and have dinner with me at a place called Salad Boutique was going to be a bit of a hard sell. What red-blooded young adult male wants to sit down to a bowl rabbit food after a long day of sport and studying? But a quick look at the menu online convinced me we would be spoilt for choice.
Far from being all about lettuce leaves and slices of tomato, there’s actually a wide variety including sandwiches, risottos, mini burgers, omelettes, all day breakfasts and a mouth-watering arrays of desserts.
As for the salads, they are not salads as you and I know them, with the prerequisite greenery and the odd raw vegetable thrown in, these are salads with an entire meal on top and they come in almost any flavour imaginable from pomegranate eggplant to nacho, steak and potato and strawberry and French cheese to name but a few.
I was immediately charmed by the décor, an enchanting mix of French 18th Century boudoir meets modern-day minimalism on two floors. We were greeted with a friendly smile and the waitress handed us our menus in the form of an iPad each and brought us a trio of little buckets filled with cucumber and carrot sticks and, my personal favourite, deep fried pasta bows to dip.
I settled on the smoked salmon salad of mixed leaves, smoked salmon and avocado served with the ‘special dressing’, my son chose the hearty Salad Boutique breakfast of omelette, steak with mushroom, hash brown, assorted French cheeses and toasted bread.
Between us we shared a starter of prawn dumplings which looked absolutely delicious, just how proper Chinese dumplings are supposed to look, with a wrapper so thin you could see the colours of the plump stuffing underneath. They tasted as good as they looked, full of honest flavour with a soy sauce-based dip that brought out the taste of the prawns deliciously.
Sadly that was the best part of the meal.
When you add dill to smoked salmon you have what is more commonly known as gravadlax. Dill is one of those herbs that is both strongly distinctive in flavour and an acquired taste, a taste that I have never acquired. It changed the flavour so much that it really warrants a mention in the dish description so that the customer can be properly informed. The creamy-based spicy dressing also did little to compliment the other flavours in the bowl. However, I did tuck in greedily into the beautifully ripe avocado, something that can be quite hard to judge just right.
My son fared little better, his omelette was overdone, the mushroom stuffing undercooked, the steak cubes had been frazzled to within an inch of their lives, giving them the texture of mushy cardboard, and the hash browns were the consistency of gritty mashed potatoes.
We shared a dessert of vanilla tempura. Smooth, creamy icecream with a batter so hard and thick I had to ask for a knife to cut it but with a very more-ish taste that ensured we ate up every last bite of it.
The bill (for two) 1 Orange and Lemon Juice BD 1.900 1 Fanta BD 1.000 1 Prawns dumpling BD 2.900 1 SB breakfast BD 7.900 1 Smoked salmon salad BD 6.900 1 Tempura Vanilla BD 2.800 Total (inc service) BD 26.910
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com