International food and Arabic fvourites in Muharraq

Saffron in the newly-refurbished Quaisariya Souq could not be more charming - so much so that the operator, Jenna Bakery, has taken over running of the much bigger coffee shop premises at the nearby Pearling Trail and a third Saffron has recently opened at Riffa Fort.

Situated in the heart of old Muharraq, work to update the building discovered a traditional Bahraini date press or madbasa and this has been preserved under the floor of the restaurant so make sure you look down as you go in and check out the info board on the wall outside which explains what you’re seeing.

We went on a week night and, though the restaurant was quite, the area around was, as always, bustling.

Inside there are just a few tables with lots of comfy cushions and no menu, you simply get the traditional Bahraini breakfast, which is served throughout the day.

A welcome dish of dates and yoghurt was quickly followed by small pots bearing foul, egg and tomato, spiced potatoes, white beans, meat keema, tuna and balaleet.

I must admit, on initial viewing, I was convinced we were going to leave the table hungry. The bowls looked tiny and I didn’t think there’d be enough for two but with the accompaniment of fluffy hot Arabic bread and smoky dark bread, I need not have worried.

The fava bean, parsley and lemon mix of the foul made for a delicious mix of tastes in one mouthful and my dining companion was very taken with the tuna which seemed to have been toasted without losing the moist sweetness of the meat.

The egg and tomato mix just goes to show that there are some things that make it onto the breakfast menu wherever in the world you go and I was really impressed with the creaminess of the eggs – it’s very easy to overcook this dish and if the eggs are too solid it can make for a quite unpleasant texture.

The one thing on this list that didn’t go down well was the balaleet, the texture was a bit chewy for my liking and the taste quite doughy.

Next we were served zinjibari – a kind of fried cheese sandwich which, oddly, seemed to have a fair helping of Branston pickle inside. I could be wrong but that’s exactly what it tasted like. For me a bit of a strange combination since the bread seemed slightly sweet but I’m all for a bit of tradition.

We also had what we were told were kabab rolls, baked bread with a fried vegetable filling which were actually a lot tastier than they looked.

I was really impressed with Saffron and would certainly recommend it, particularly if you have guests and want to give them a taste of old Bahrain.

The one blight on the evening was when my dinner partner stepped outside for a smoke and was accosted by five young boys demanding cigarettes and tapping her nether regions!

The bill (for two)
Evening breakfast x 2 BD7.000
Tea x 2 BD1.000
Lemon juice x 1 BD1.000
Sprite x 2 BD1.000
Total BD10.000 Saffron
5 1

By Time Out Bahrain staff | 27 March 2013

Location: Muharraq - Bahrain
Tel: 39 614 131
Travel: Near the NBB strip
Cuisine: Arabic, Lebanese
Times: Open daily 8am-10pm
Credit Cards Accepted: Yes
  • A Sep 26, 2013 12:56 pm
    Isn't it funny that your website does not have a "Bahraini" cuisine listing even though it's Time Out Bahrain? Saffron is definitely not Lebanese food!
  • Cathie McIntyre Jan 25, 2013 03:49 pm
    I love this place and have been a customer through its many names and management. This time I think the restaurant will make it!

    Not only is the food good, the minimalist decor is attractive.
  • Rik Dec 26, 2012 07:26 pm
    Excellent place to sample a real Bahraini breakfast and good starting point to explore Muharraq on foot. Staff is very helpful and welcoming. Note however that credit cards are not (yet) accepted. Do not forget to try the sweet bread!

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