I have to admit I wasn’t holding out much hope for Kenza, the new Lebanese restaurant at the K Hotel, Juffair, but I soon discovered things were not quite as they seemed.
As is the case with most of these mini hotels, the food tends to be acceptable but nothing special to write home about and when we first walked in my reservations appeared to be confirmed. Tasteful and warm but a little on the generic décor wise, it was a lovely surprise to find a wonderful exotically decorated terrace with charmingly cozy and romantic seating areas.
Flipping through the menu, they had all the things you would expect on a Lebanese menu and my dining companion and I decided on a selection of hot and cold mezze to start with; hummus, tabouleh, stuffed vine leaves and meat kebbeh. For our main courses we settled on mixed grill for my companion and grilled hammour with lemon and garlic for me.
We didn’t have to wait long for our mezze and I was pleasantly surprised for the second time to discover all of them were among the best I’ve tasted. The hummus was thick, creamy and delicious, the tabouleh had just the right amount of lemon juice and the kebbeh had the perfect give to bite into on the outside while the filling was perfectly seasoned, not too dry, not too moist.
As for the vines, I have to admit I was in heaven at the first bite. One of my all time favourite mezze, I have rarely found any that are just right. All too often the vine leaves are wrapped too thickly with not enough filling and you are left chewing the vein of the leaf long after any flavour has gone. These, on the other hand, were stuffed and wrapped to perfection, with very little chew necessary. All in all a very good start to the meal.
My main course, unfortunately, was quite a letdown. Served in a creative but somewhat strange pastry bowl, my hammour was cut into cubes that were chewy on the outside and somehow (I can’t imagine how) managed to be both dry and slimy on the inside. The sauce on the side tasted generic as if it had come out of a jar, rather than being home-made.
My companion’s mixed grill, on the other hand, was very tasty indeed. A nice big lamb chop and some kofta, along with marinated chicken and beef, all beautifully seasoned and juicy. It was also, thankfully, a large enough portion that we were both able to fill our bellies and ignore the hammour.
A special mention should also go to the staff who were friendly, efficient and attentive and, when all is said and done, this is very definitely a restaurant I’m looking forward to going back to… soon!
The bill (for two) 1 hummus BD1.500 1 tabouleh BD1.500 1 vine leaves BD3.000 1 meat kebbeh BD2.500 1 hammour BD4.500 1 mixed grill BD4.500 Total (inc tax and service) BD20.125
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com