Rolling up right outside a restaurant door is a real privilege these days in Bahrain, as it can often be difficult to find a parking space. No such predicament at Déjà Vu, however, where parking spaces are plentiful, given its location in a redevelopment plot close by the illustrious Gulf Hotel.
We entered somewhat cautiously, not being too sure how to relate to the straight, rather clinical and somewhat cold form of the building and its outside blinds, which bore a bold floral design. The welcome inside was contrastingly warm, although perhaps just a little bit too fussy at the beginning. Maybe I’m just too independent, but I do like to manage the unfolding of my napkin and pulling out of my chair all by myself.
As the restaurant was empty when we walked in, we chose a table in one of the back corners of the room. It wasn’t just any old room, it was a cosy room with a more traditional feel to it than the outside of the building had led us to envisage. Subtle lighting and discreet photographs of European holiday destinations adorned the walls, and lent themselves to creating a pleasant and relaxing dining environment. My friend, on the other hand, initially found the menu tricky to read because he felt the lights were too low. Not a problem, however, as the attentive waitress picked up on his squinting and accordingly fiddled with the switch behind him to provide better reading light.
While we tucked into some delicious crispy, fresh rolls, my dining partner duly studied the varied choices, deliberated, and opted for salt and pepper calamari – crispy golden squid, shallow fried and served with lemon aioli sauce. I did what I so often do, studied the menu and became engrossed in a conversation so that when the waitress returned to ask if we were ready to order, I was telling a white lie when I replied ‘yes’.
My choice was thus ‘pot luck’ and my goodness, I was fortunate. It would have been hard to find a tastier and more fascinating starter than mine: venison carpaccio served with a juniper berry crust and accompanied by a rocket and citrus vinaigrette. It was simply wonderful. My friend was equally pleased with his starter, although if we had to be picky, he did later remark that the sauce lacked any real punch.
Portion control by the chefs for the starters and in fact for the next two courses which followed was perfect. We were given enough to enjoy and feel satisfied, but plates were not too overloaded so that the belly groans. By this time, we were pleased to see the other tables filling up, and rightly so. Déjà Vu was indeed proving to be a first class dining experience. Our main courses arrived in due time, and once again showed that an artistic hand was at work in the kitchen. Yet more good fortune came my way with the main dish, also chosen by taking a random stab at the menu. Braised quail, marinated and served with honey glazed vegetables, crispy shallots and a pomegranate dressing was pure perfection. My dining mate was equally ecstatic about his plate of corn-fed chicken breast, marinated and served in the same manner as my quail.
Every now and then we picked up on some soft music playing; a further feature which added to the exquisite ambience. We rounded off our meal with two desserts, which were delicious and eaten up voraciously. Well, perhaps voracious best describes me alone, as I conveniently ‘forgot’ that I was supposed to be sharing my chocolate cake until only a few crumbs were left on the plate. The rhubarb and apple crumble was a confirmed, irresistible choice for my friend. I’m proud to say I can also testify that it was indeed excellent.
At just over BD22 for two starters and two main courses, plus the unknown cost of the designer Voss water, which appears to have ended up on someone else’s bill, I can safely say that our meal here represented fairly good value for money. In addition, our desserts, which amounted to about BD3 each, were generously offered on the house. It’s definitely not a case of weighing up the pros and cons, as when it came down to it there were only things to praise at Déjà Vu. Although as we reversed out of the parking space and drove away from the restaurant, we did comment that the outside areas could do with a bit of a landscaping – a few palm trees and the ever present bougainvillea or petunias would not go amiss.
The bill (for two) 1x venison carpaccio BD5.9 1x calamari BD3.5 1x braised quail BD6.3 1x chicken gorgonzola BD6.9 Total (excluding charges) BD 22.6
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com