September marked a further addition to Bahrain’s already burgeoning hotel and restaurant scene with the opening of the Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre. The hotel boasts more than a few restaurants and bars. Shortly after its opening and spoilt for choice, my friend and I opted for Saveur, which is Kempinski’s international restaurant.
Table settings were classy and a pale, silvery blue colour scheme was an elegant choice for the five-star establishment. As well as places for at least a hundred people there were a couple of more secluded dining rooms located just off the main one. These, we thought, would be perfect for a business dinner or a more private family gathering.
An interesting yet somewhat limited range of food was on the menu. For starters my friend chose scallops and I opted for crab tempura. Both were exquisitely presented and moreish. By sheer coincidence our main courses were fish as well, loup de mer (sea bass) for my friend and halibut for me. Again presentation was perfect and we were both very happy with our selections. My friend particularly liked the sweet potato which accompanied her fish.
Perhaps one of the most defining and pleasing elements of Saveur was its salad bar. You see, my dining partner has strictly followed a healthy eating plan and fitness regime for over 10 years, and she was delighted with this feature. Laid out in the middle of the restaurant was an extremely well presented selection of salad leaves, rocket, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, crunchy cucumber, pine nuts and walnuts, to name just a few of the healthy temptations.
Given that the waiting staff and chefs far outnumbered the diners, who must have totalled about six persons including ourselves, service was speedy. From the side of the room where we were seated, we could look towards the centre where the open kitchen was situated and observe the chefs at work. That is always reassuring. It is very honest and open when dinner is prepared in front of your very eyes.
Portion sizes of the starter and main course were just right, so despite my friend’s encouragement I did not join her for dessert. Instead I opted for a refreshing black tea. On the other hand, if I had been in the mood for dessert that evening, then I almost definitely would have chosen one of the cheese plates. That was a really pleasant change – so rarely do we see biscuits and cheese on a dinner menu in this part of the world.
Unfortunately the cheesecake selected and so eagerly anticipated by my dining partner turned out to be rather bland. After eating only a small piece, she left it on the plate. We were both quite surprised that the waiter did not comment on this not even half-eaten dessert when he came to clear the plates. Until that point, several of the waiters had asked us multiple times if everything was alright. Surely when most of the dessert is discarded, some sort of alarm bells would start ringing?
All things considered, our experience at Saveur was first-class. It is hard, though, to imagine the restaurant becoming busier. This would not be due to the quality factor but rather, who would really come to a shopping mall to enjoy a luxury meal out? There is already a good choice of restaurants in the food court to satisfy shoppers, and our feeling was very much that we were in the mall rather than being in a hotel which could be accessed from Bahrain City Centre.
The bill (for two) 1x scallops BD9 1x caesar tempura BD8 1x loup de mer BD13 1x halibut BD12.5 1x large Evian water BD2.1 1x cheesecake BD2 Total (incl charges) BD57.3
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com