Seafood is the specialty at the Sofitel resort's flagship restaurant 5 Reviews
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Despite a few months delay, the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa finally opened recently. As such we eagerly made our way down to Zallaq in the south of the island for an evening meal at its La Mer restaurant.
We received a very warm welcome from all the staff, and they were clearly eager to please. Before our starters were served, we were promptly brought a small basket featuring flat pita-style bread, plain baguette slices and wholesome granary rolls. These were served with two delicious pastes; tomato and chilli and creamy salmon. The attentive waiter noticed how quickly we polished off the contents of the basket and swiftly brought us a second helping.
Our starters arrived within a short space of time. My dish looked as if it would have been equally at home in the centre of a gilt edged frame hanging in the Louvre, such was the artistry involved in its presentation and the way the pieces were all arranged. It was simply gorgeous. The taste was utterly divine, with the scallops having just the right consistency; slightly firm but definitely not tough. Scallops with pistachio crust, accompanied by citrus mousse and splinters of peppercorn caramel, are highly recommended by me. My friend was equally enamored with his oysters Kilpatrick, served with grilled smoky pork bacon and Worcestershire sauce.
After the top class starters, we sat back in our chairs and perused our surroundings. Incidentally, the dining chairs were extremely comfortable and the table was at exactly the right height for both of us. This, my dining partner said to me, was important to note, as he has found table legs getting in the way of his tall and strapping frame in the past. We admired the soft, low lighting and the dark wood floor, and imagined the completed picture of a full wine cellar and fresh fish display.
There was one other table, occupied by a couple of Arab gentlemen, and later on a larger party of French- speaking diners entered. It was rather a shame to see only a handful of people in what was rapidly proving to be a first rate establishment; however, La Mer hadn’t been open for any longer than a week. Let’s trust that news travels fast, and that more inhabitants of this island as well as visitors become patrons of this fine-dining restaurant in the not too distant future.
If we had been amazed by the starters, we were rendered virtually speechless by the main courses. As expected from a seafood restaurant, the choices were mainly seafood and fish dishes, although there was a mild concession to meat eaters with duck and lamb on offer as well. After almost opting for the sea bream, my picking was seared salmon accompanied by mashed potatoes, black olives, truffle oil, capers and butter sauce. It was heaven on a plate, a deluxe blend of ingredients that tantalised with ever morsel. Similarly, my friend was enraptured with his casserole of mussels, served with a sweet spices sauce and potatoes. A side order of grilled vegetables completed his course.
Just as we finished our mains, the French chef came out of the kitchen to check all was well. It most definitely was. Monsieur was able to explain where ingredients were sourced from and which specific spices had been blended together to create the delectable mix in my companion’s sweet spices sauce. We had guessed that there was ginger and coriander; nonetheless, we needed his expertise to tell us that there was also cumin and mustard seeds.
In all honesty, neither of us actually needed a dessert. The starters and main dishes had been exactly the right size of portion, so that we felt satisfied but not overly full. Need and desire, however, are two vastly different things so with oodles of guilty pleasure, we selected something sweet. A date tart served with almond milk ice-cream and a drizzle of honey for me and an avocado and banana macaroon for my friend. These scrumptious sugary treats were followed by two delicious brews of black and green tea.
After the extra indulgence of dessert, I was glad that I had parked the car in the main car park and not directly outside La Mer, as it allowed us a much needed stroll through the hotel’s pristinely manicured grounds.
There may be some readers musing over my strong commendations in favour of La Mer, yet thinking is it really worth the half-hour drive from central Manama? Without a doubt it is. In our home countries, we probably wouldn’t think twice about driving 30 minutes to get somewhere, so we shouldn’t let it be a concern in Bahrain either. We cannot recommend La Mer highly enough.
The bill (for two)
1x oysters Kilpatrick BD2.2
1x scallops BD6.8
1x seared salmon BD8
1x mussels casserole BD8
1x grilled vegetables BD2.5
1x date tart BD3.5
1x macaroon BD3.5
1x large Evian water BD2.5
1x black tea BD2.4
1x green tea BD2.4
Total (incl charges) BD 55.2
Time Out Bahrain,
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