With the launch of Paul Bakery’s new menu at Seef Mall and Bahrain City Centre, I was itching to give it a try, having long been a fan, so I was delighted when our editor packed me off one weekday lunchtime to sample the goods.
Any visit to Paul starts off with a delicious bread basket, as you would expect in a bakery, and it’s accompanied by traditional French butter and olive tapenade.
However, since business was quiet, my starter, the soup of the day, arrived before I could even get the olives on my plate.
The soup was seafood and thick and warming. I took a good sniff, I’m always intoxicated by the smell of a good fishy broth, and this didn’t disappoint.
The taste was initially slightly bland but given a stir and the addition of a squeeze of lemon, the flavour came to life as I spooned up small but tasty chunks of various seafood.
The consistency was so thick and warming, you could almost wish it was winter and, to be honest, the soup coupled with the generous portion of bread would have been more than enough.
However, in the interests of research, I soldiered on to the gratin forestier the delightfully French version of chicken and potato pie (without the pie crust) consisting of thick slices of chicken, sautéed mushrooms and potato rings smothered in a creamy béchamel sauce and topped with grated emmental and mozzarella.
As a huge fan of cooked cheese, I was in heaven with this dish. The sauce was delicate and smooth allowing the taste of the mushrooms to come through and the cheese did that string-from-plate-to- fork thing that good mozzarella does, embarrassing if you’re with someone else but fine for me dining alone and loving it.
I mopped it up with more of the delicious Paul bread – bonus points to the waiting staff that they don’t whisk it away as soon as you’ve finished your starter course.
My one slight gripe though was the salad. The menu says all gratin dishes come with a crisp mixed green salad with vinaigrette dressing. Unfortunately the portion was a bit miserly and my salad seemed to consist mainly of frisée, which I find extremely bitter and unpleasant, it would have been OK with some rocket or baby spinach to dilute the taste but with just this and some red lettuce the flavour was somewhat sour for my palate.
For dessert I decided to take my choice with me and head back to the office. Opting for strawberry millefeuille I was disappointed to be told all the strawberry-based items were unavailable but the explanation, that they are all made fresh each day and the strawberries had not yet arrived from the market, made me feel a bit better and I went instead for a strawberry éclair, a cake I’ve never tried before and only available as it needed far fewer strawberries.
A typical finger choux pastry stuffed with vanilla cream and fresh strawberries and topped with a liberal dusting of icing sugar – to say my colleagues were envious would be an understatement and I’m happy to report Paul’s new menu is every bit as good as the old.
The bill (for one) 1 soup of the day BD2.600 1 gratin forestier BD3.700 1 strawberry éclair BD1.500 1 sparkling water BD1.500 Total (inc tax and service) BD10.230
Paul Restaurant & Bakery
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com