As soon as we drive up to Nicole’s Mediterranean Restaurant & Lounge in Adliya we feel uplifted. The restaurant is so inviting with its brightly coloured and artistic façade looking, quite literally, as though it was lifted straight out of the Mediterranean and transported to Block 338.
To our disappointment, the interiors aren’t quite as vibrant although we do see elements of the Mediterranean region working its way through the various seating sections via chosen artworks. We see scenes from Italy and a large painted mural of France’s Arc de Triomphe taking up an entire wall but, somehow, the muted furniture seems drab in comparison to the welcoming exterior. The jazzy background music, on the other hand, works to uplift us again.
The menu, too, is certainly vibrant with fl avours from across the entire Mediterranean, spanning Italy, France, Greece, Lebanon and Spain. In fact, we’re given two menus – one regular and another solely for tapas. We choose from the regular menu on this occasion, opting for the crab bruschetta, and a papaya and shrimp salad to start with.
While we wait for our food to arrive, we’re given a bread basket full of soft, fresh goodies along with a very moreish green olive and garlic tapenade. Already, our taste buds are alive. This is further helped by the delicious crab bruschetta featuring rustic, homemade bread topped with real, fresh crab, diced tomatoes and garlic. While the salad is also full of fresh flavours from the perfectly grilled Tiger shrimp to the sliced, colourful papaya and a great mint and shallot dressing.
For the main event, we share a Greek pizza and order our own dishes of olive-crusted cod and a housemade saffron tagliolini with mixed seafood. The Greek pizza, although it looks a little bland on fi rst inspection is not at all, as plenty of fl avour comes through the mozzarella and marinara sauce, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and its seasoned well. We also love the well-cooked, crispy pizza base.
Meanwhile, we dive into the tagliolini with great gusto – it looks so wonderful with shrimps, clams, mussels, calamari and scallops scattered across the tasty, homemade pasta and topped with a rich marinara sauce. Impressively, all of the seafood is also perfectly cooked – there’s absolutely nothing chewy or rubbery about this dish. Our least favourite dish would have to be the oven-crusted cod but we couldn’t go as far as saying it’s bad. A huge piece of perfect, meaty cod is covered with lashings of black olive, sat atop a bed of sautéed spinach and surrounded by a deep red pepper sauce.
The flavours are, again, vibrant particularly thanks to the sauce, taking us straight to the streets of the Mediterranean. However, the bitter aftertaste of wilted spinach doesn’t agree with us. As we elect our desserts, a plate of complimentary baklava (apparently Nicole’s ‘secret’ recipe) is brought to our table apologise for a very unobstrusive training session going on at the other side of the restaurant. Although wholly unnecessary, we’re thankful for the gesture and fall in love with the subtle, sweet flavours of this Arabic sweet. It certainly opens up our palates for the fi nal course. Choosing dessert proves to be tricky as every one sounds exciting. We fi nally narrow it down to the chef’s signature apple tart and the chocolate and amaretto parfait. These plates are very picture something you’d find high end restaurant anywhere around the world, and taste just good.
The apple tart with apricot jam is soft, sticky and sweet without being overpowering and comes with a wonderful cinnamon ice Meanwhile, the rich chocolate parfait, although a tad on the harder side for a parfait, is brought to life with a bold Amaretto essence and served with a lovely Tuscany biscotti. What we love most about Nicole’s is that it seems they make almost everything from scratch, but also how the kitchen’s passion for food is served on each and every plate. On the menu, the owners state they’re seeking ‘to provide a Michelin quality dining experience’ and although we might not stretch as far as saying it’s Michelin star worthy (yet), it’s certainly a decent effort to become so and well worth a visit.
The bill (for two) 1x large still water BD2.5 1x Perrier BD1.5 1x shrimp and papaya salad BD6 1x crab bruschetta BD5.5 1x olive crusted cod BD14 1x Greek pizza BD5.5 1x Saffron tagliolini BD6 1x parfait BD4 1x apple tart BD3.5 Service charge 15% Gov levy 5% Total BD58.560
Nicole’s Mediterranean Restaurant & Lounge
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com