Slap-bang in the middle of the City Centre mall’s first floor ‘restaurant row’, this is one of the only places here that doesn’t have an indoor seating area where you can go in and hide away from the sheer volume of shoppers and cinema-goers. The key was, we’d decided beforehand, to look at it as a higher class of fast food outlet that you’d stop in at to break up a marathon shopping trip, rather than as a ‘normal’ restaurant that you’d make a special trip to dine in. That said, they do their best to elevate the experience for you in terms of the quality of the service and the range of dishes on offer in the menu. We went along on a busy week-night to see if we couldn’t reconcile the two sides to this place.
The décor doesn’t really exist to be written about in a typical restaurant review style: you’ve got your raised decking, your covered tables, your till stations dotted about and that’s it. The ‘décor’ is basically the shopping centre surrounding you. What is of some interest, however, is the ‘butcher shop’ part of the name: at the back, to one side, is a genuine butcher’s counter, separate from the main restaurant, that serves up cuts of meat, a range of mean-looking knife sets and cute little mini freezer bags to ferry your meat about in.
The menu, on the other hand, is more redolent of the ‘normal’ restaurant I was talking about earlier, with a full range of starters and soups and international dishes. With prices to match, we immediately noticed, which stood in glaring contrast to the surrounding cacophonic fast food ‘ambience’. But we took our time choosing our food, and were brought out the usual breadbasket while we decided, as well as a small bowl of cubes of boerewors (sausage) in tomato sauce that you spear with cocktail sticks, and determined to make the most of the experience. (On a separate note, we were horribly fascinated to spot, on the menu, something called a ‘monkeygland burger’ and a steak topping of ‘monkeygland sauce’. We were too scared to ask and went for far more conventional options, ourselves.).
For starters, I had the crab cakes served on mango salsa and my friend the sticky chicken wings served with blue cheese and sweet chilli dips. While the crab cakes were meaty enough, they didn’t taste of crab! Maybe that’s why the mango salsa had been made hot enough to sear your tastebuds off, so you wouldn’t notice. But they brought the starters out for us to share and the barbecued chicken wings were very tasty (we were especially fond of the creamy, dreamy blue cheese sauce accompanying these) so I didn’t feel I’d lost out too much. Though perhaps my date wouldn’t have been able to say the same…
When the waiter clearing our plates away almost collided with the waiter bringing our main courses, we were re-reminded that this was in fact a fast food restaurant, albeit an upmarket one, which didn’t really sit well with the sit-down table service, the range of the menu or the portion sizes, or the level of service. A bit of a jarring combination, we felt.
My main course was slow roasted lamb slices served with brown gravy, creamed spinach, baked pumpkin, seasonal vegetables and a baked potato. It looked like a typical pub roast dinner but with posh veg. The latter was all fine (and the creamed spinach actually tasted of spinach! A rarity!) but the lamb itself was a touch on the dry side, which was disappointing. All of this on one of the most enormous plates I’d ever been presented with and, coming so soon after my starter, it was all rather daunting and by the time I’d admitted defeat it looked like I’d barely touched my food.
My friend had opted for the (much more manageable-looking) fillet steak with blue cheese sauce (the same that had accompanied his chicken wing starter – he really did like that sauce) and chips. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium-well done tenderness and the chips were to die for, perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
There were no desserts on offer, or teas and coffees, which again set you starkly back in the middle of a shopping centre food court, but when you judge it by those standards it’s definitely one of the more pleasant food court dining experiences available out there. Although, when the bill came in, we were left wondering why, if you’re paying the same prices, you wouldn’t go for that ‘normal’ restaurant instead. We left to finish off our late-night shopping.
The bill (for two) 1 crab cake BD4.300 1 sticky chicken wings BD3.800 1 fillet steak BD11.500 1 roquefort sauce BD0.900 1 onion rings BD1.900 1 slow roast lamb BD7.200 1 bottle water 1.5L BD1.800 1 Coke BD1.000 1 lemon mint juice BD2.100 Total BD34.500
Butcher Shop & Grill
Time Out Bahrain Staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com