With our food awards approaching, I’ve been tasked with checking out the island’s impressive brunch offering – it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it right!
I’ve not always been a big fan of the Mövenpick brunch, it used to be a bit too fishy for my taste but these days the huge buffet is far more varied – though one of my dining companions tells me the oysters are still some of the best on the island. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t attempt to confirm this, oysters are one of the few things I really don’t eat after an experience I have no wish to share!
In fact to start, I did indeed go for fish. There’s an extensive fish bar where all manner of offerings are raw on ice, you pile your plate with as much or as little as you fancy and tell the staff how you would like it cooked – Thai-style, grilled or various other options.
I chose king fish steak and needle fish plus some marinated squid – that’s the problem with brunch, you always eat far more than you normally would because it all just looks so good.
While these were being cooked I helped myself to the salad bar where everything looked reassuringly fresh – not always the case in some places I’ve tried.
There was a delicious moutabel, complete with pomegranate seeds, little layered slices with smoked meats and cheeses, huge bowls of crispy greens, various salads – I was particularly taken with the Greek, big chunks of feta, shiny black olives and cucumber all swimming in a delicious dressing – including beans, eggs and just about anything else you could think off.
And if the salad of your choice doesn’t figure in the main salad bar, you will surely find all the ingredients there to make it up as you go along.
If you don’t want to start with salad, then remember this is brunch (that’s breakfast and lunch combined you know) and there’s a good breakfast selection too with sausages, eggs and all the other brekkie staples you would expect.
My fish were delivered direct to the table – no fumbling around trying to find me, they’d taken my name and table number and came straight to me – and they were delicious, although the needle fish is not one I’ll repeat, just too many bones for me. The squid though, was spot on. I’ve often tried to get this right at home but it always ends up virtually cremated, so it’s a joy to get it cooked perfectly, just chewy enough and with the marinade bringing out the delicate flavour.
After a suitable breather I headed to the roast meats station for a succulent cut of roast beef. You have to be a bit careful not to get the end of the joint as it can be a bit chewy but the Mövenpick brunch is busy enough that the food doesn’t sit for very long so you don’t get the drying effect you will find in some places and the meat is clearly of excellent quality.
Two little moans here though, roast beef goes with Yorkshire pudding like a horse and carriage, so I was disappointed to be told these had run out. Still, a little bit of pouting and a sticky out bottom lip and they agreed to cook some more and bring them to my table. To be honest they tasted a bit cardboardy, but, having made such a fuss, I wasn’t going to leave them on my plate and a liberal coating of gravy soon did the trick.
Looking across the table, I spotted one of my companions with an Asian stir fry concoction while another was digging into pasta which, if my tum hadn’t been close to capacity, would certainly have been next on my list – recalling the aroma of onions and garlic is making my mouth water even as I type.
But I was saving myself for the cheese. This brunch is a cheese lover’s dream with one whole room devoted to the smelly dairy product. In fact I could quite happily have spent the day in there and not bothered with the rest - well apart from the squid.
From blue cheese and hard cheese to a mature cheddar and even a goats’ cheese I’d never heard of, there was a really good selection with lots of crackers and biscuits alongside. The only thing missing was a good home-made onion jam or chutney, but then you can’t have everything.
Meanwhile back at the table, my neighbour was tucking into a hot crepe smothered in chocolate sauce and ice cream. Did I say I was saving myself for the cheese?
I must admit I was very sorely tempted so I think another trip may be in order rather soon particularly since the atmosphere at the Mövenpick is so good. It’s not raucous but celebration groups are welcome and, if it’s your birthday, they’ll even make you a balloon hat.
There’s live music, face painting for the kids and a henna lady who’s kept busy painting ladies’ hands.
And if you really want to keep the party going, it’s a short walk to move out onto the terrace once brunch finishes though, sadly, there’s not swimming.
The bill (for one) Brunch inclusive of selected beverages BD23.200 Total (excluding tax) BD23.200
Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com