For a tiny island, we have a wealth of excellent eateries featuring the world's cuisines. From Cuban sandwich shops to Moroccan fine-dining spots, brand-new cafés to renovated old favourites, Bahrain’s thriving culinary scene shows no signs of slowing down…
This new Lebanese restaurant in Amwaj Lagoon is charming – its mosaic flooring and bright, airy décor is lovely, but it’s the food that really impresses. All Lebanese classics are accounted for and everything is delicious, from the regular hummus tahini to the more unique beetroot moutabel and the juicy grills.
Entrance 6a, Amwaj Lagoon, Amwaj Islands (16 002 600).
BAM – Baguettes and More
The founders of BAM, the brand-new Juffair-based sandwich shop, which opened just last month, describe it like so: “Imagine Subway and Costa Coffee had a baby”. Sure, there are a lot of baguettes, but, as it says in the name, there’s more than that. You can choose from freshly baked white or brown baguettes, tortilla wraps, healthy salads, jacket potatoes and cakes, as well as coffee and specialty teas, frappés and smoothies. Going for the baguette? You can choose from a small, medium or mega portion, then load it up with your choice of top-quality fillings.
American Alley, just past Mega Mart, Juffair (17 666 366).
Bongos Subs and Spuds
In the couple of months since this Latin American spot has been open, it’s been attracting customers from all over the island, looking to sample Bahrain’s first Cuban sandwich shop. Located in Segaya, Bongos Subs and Spuds is a casual kind of place, but the food it serves is anything but. Tostones, empanadas and giant subs stuffed with Havana’s most famous flavours are on the menu, as well as yucca fritas and plenty of hot sauce.
Segaya Plaza (17 420 008).
Much has been going on at this award-winning café, with a range of new experiences and dishes being served up. From the sushiwarma (a must-try) to the vegan burger and new, regular charitable initiatives, Bossy Kitchen is like a brand-new place and the owners have plenty more in store for the rest of the year.
Reem Centre, Riffa (33 397 433).
This glamorous venue, part of the luxury Italian fashion brand Roberto Cavalli, boasts elegant, fashionable interiors and a menu of signature creations and beautifully presented dishes, such as salads, pastas, desserts and much more. There are also a selection of Cavalli chocolates imported from Italy, which you can take home for yourself or as a gift. At first it was only open for dinner, but now it’s open from noon every day.
Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (77 788 877).
There’s a new brunch in town at another new international venue in the unlicensed hotel Ramada Hotel & Suites Amwaj Islands. It’s laidback and has an international buffet spread and live cooking stations, as well as kids' entertainment. Oh, and it’s one of the best-value brunches we’ve come across.
BD12++ (food and soft drinks), BD6++ (kids six to 12), free (children under six). Ramada Hotel & Suites Amwaj Islands (17 000 099).
Fisherman’s Voyage at Choices
We’re not short of seafood meal deals in the city, but we’re excited about Art Rotana’s new option at their all-day dining spot Choices. The quality of food here is always top-notch, and now, on Thursday evenings, the team is putting on a bountiful spread of seafood with flavours from across the world. Dive into the buffet (pun intended, sorry), and pair it with mixed beverages while listening to live entertainment from the in-house band.
BD16++ (food and soft drinks), BD25++ (with selected house beverages). Thu 7pm-10.30pm. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Flavours of Morocco
There aren’t many options for Moroccan cuisine in Bahrain and so we were excited to learn about Ramada Hotel & Suites Amwaj Islands' newest restaurant opening, Flavours of Morocco, earlier this year. This upmarket spot launched during Ramadan and is a colourful, intimate tribute to one of North Africa’s most popular cuisines. On a recent review of the restaurant, we could see where there is some room for improvement, but we were impressed, in particular, with the beetroot salad and lamb liver starters. It might need some time to find its feet, but we’ll be back for some more tagine very soon.
Ramada Hotel & Suites Amwaj Islands (16 000 099).
Flavours on 2
Downtown Rotana’s new international restaurant, Flavours on 2, is a great spot to choose for a business lunch in Manama. There’s a buffet of light salads, Arabian mezze, soup and plenty of hot dishes that regularly rotate and you can eat all you want for just BD10. Meanwhile, on a Friday, it’s becoming a top spot for brunch, too. Again, there’s a fresh buffet spread, as well as live cooking stations and, with your package, you get free pool access in the hotel until 7pm, and children have their own supervised area that’s filled with games. Sorted.
BD20 (food and soft drinks), BD24 (with house beverages). Fri noon-4pm. Downtown Rotana, Manama (13 119 999).
We love the charming, rustic décor, with its pastel shades and natural woods, at Mediterranean restaurant Florence, which opened this summer in Block 338. The menu is mammoth, with over 60 dishes from across the entire region – Lebanon to Greece, France to Morocco – vying for your attention. The owners and the kitchen team put together their mixed backgrounds, cultures and travel experiences in order to create a journey through the Med for their customers and, although it’s a bit overwhelming at first, there are some lovely dishes there. We’re particularly looking forward to dining in the beautiful garden area when it cools down.
Block 338, Adliya (17 336 373).
Ever since international restaurant Saveur and the gourmet café T-Spoon shut down, plenty of renovations have been going on at The Westin Bahrain City Centre Hotel. And now they’ve revealed exactly what it is they’ve been up to – opening a new Khaleeji restaurant called Furn. Dishes (pictured in the opening spread of this feature) feature flavours from the region, but are enhanced by the modern presentation and gourmet twists. Favourites such as machboos, ouzi and saloona have been re-invented by Bahraini Chef Manaf, and everything is freshly prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Meanwhile, the Furn Bakery churns out freshly baked goods, combining Eastern and Western classics, such as manakish, croissants and even Austrian strudel.
The Westin Bahrain City Centre Hotel, Seef, www.furnbahrain.com (17 171 441).
Already, this Turkish restaurant is well-known in the country for serving up excellent, authentic cuisine, but as of this month a new look has also been revealed at its City Centre Bahrain home. The mall-based restaurant reopened in August after a three-month hiatus in which it was being renovated. Now the authenticity of the food matches the décor.
City Centre Bahrain, Seef (17 172 322).
Chances are, if you’ve been in Bahrain long, then you’ll have visited this stalwart Italian restaurant. La Pergola, at The Gulf Hotel, is like an institution on the island for Italian fine-dining, although it’s been beginning to look a little tired lately. Realising this, the team has given the restaurant a much-needed facelift and Chef Enrico Morselli has updated the menu.
The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Okay, so this isn’t a new restaurant, but it might as well be, as it’s been transformed over the summer to incorporate more stylish design elements and new tables and chairs. As usual, the creative kitchen team has been very busy, too, adding brand-new dishes to the menu such as the tiramisu maki and the Jaber maki, with tempura prawns, avocado, chopped salmon and jalapeño.
Bahrain World Trade Centre, King Faisal Highway (17 522 733).
Reem Al Bawadi
This regionally renowned Lebanese restaurant has opened its doors within the past few weeks at the brand-new Ramada Manama City Centre hotel in Seef. The family themed venue serves up authentic Middle Eastern food in its humble, Arabian-inspired indoor dining section and on the terrace in cooler weather, where shisha is also available.
Ramada Manama City Centre, Seef (17 104 000).
In July, the Zallaq resort Al Areen Palace & Spa opened a new, licensed Indian restaurant to complement its other fine-dining Asian spots. The menu here features authentic Indian dishes with a modern, gourmet twist, and the restaurant itself has a contemporary vibe both indoors and outside on the garden terrace, which overlooks the main courtyard of the hotel.
Al Areen Palace & Spa, Zallaq (17 845 000).
One of three new venues at the Manama-based hotel Downtown Rotana, Teatro serves up an interesting fusion of cuisine from across the East and West. You’ll find Japanese sushi next to Indian curry and Italian pasta, but don’t mistake this place for an international restaurant. It’s a vibrant, brightly decorated, modern venue that provides an intimate ambience for dinner. And despite the mish-mash of cultures on the menu, the staff are eager to please and the food is freshly prepared to a high quality.
Downtown Rotana, Government Avenue, Manama (13 119 999).
Red brick walls, industrial metal décor and ambient lighting – this new bar and restaurant in Adliya is, in a word, cool. Already picked up quite a following in the weeks it’s been open, The Foundry not only provides chic vibes, but also great food that’s all made in-house from scratch (even the salmon is smoked on-site). But what else would you expect from the founders of the ever-popular gourmet deli Sage & Sirloin? The cuisine is a combination of American barbecue, French bistro and gastropub, and the owners are attempting to make fine-dining in the country more affordable for us all. Check it out.
Adliya, Block 338 (69 960 000).
Another new and trendy venue has sprung up in Adliya, boasting industrial décor, this time in a cavernous space. The downstairs dining area at Mediterranean restaurant Torino is vast, with tables dotted about for intimate gatherings, while upstairs is a lounge and bar where ladies’ nights and beverage deals are going on throughout the week. There’s also a DJ booth, so it’s likely this spot is vying to become one of the hottest nightspots in town very soon.
Adliya, Block 338 (77 666 688).
Wu Asian Restaurant’s cooking classes
Want to learn to make an authentic Thai green curry from scratch? On September 7 Art Rotana’s Asian restaurant Wu is offering you the chance to do just that. And the cooking classes will become a monthly event, with other sessions taking you through more pan-Asian classics in a three-hour session that includes lunch and house beverages.
BD19 net. September 7, October 5, November 2 and December 7, 11am-2pm. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Music and nightlife
It’s not often that new venues open in this category, but with plenty of new bands and nightlife deals popping up, there is still plenty to do in Bahrain after-hours.
DJ Steve Sinclair at Club XS
Juffair-based nightclub Club XS has recently welcomed UK DJ Steve Sinclair to its decks. Sinclair, who is also a club promoter and shadow producer, has been spinning across Europe for more than 20 years now, and played alongside the likes of Mark Knight and Judge Jules. His style ranges from house to minimal tech, funky anthems to commercial dance and R&B.
Ramee Rose Hotel, Juffair (17 616 167).
Lady in Red at Teatro Downtown
Fusion restaurant Teatro also has a bar lounge area which is currently offering a special ladies’ deal on Mondays and Wednesdays. Get selected house beverages and free snacks for BD10 net per person from 7pm to 9pm, then continue the evening by dining in Teatro with free-flowing sparkling and complimentary desserts. Wear red the best and you’ll get chance to win an awesome prize, too.
BD10. Mon and Wed 7pm-9pm. Downtown Rotana, Manama (13 119 999).
We’ve already told you about the restaurant, but the bar at The Foundry is worthy of visiting on its own. It’s small and intimate, perfect for groups of friends catching up, and the menu features a range of grape, hops and mixed beverages created by the bartender who was flown in specially from France.
Adliya, Block 338 (69 960 000).
Time Out Live! Bahrain Jams
If you’re a regular reader of Time Out Bahrain, you’ll have noticed our announcement of Time Out Live! Bahrain Jams, one of our biggest launches in the country to date. For the first time ever, the world’s biggest, most award-winning and most read magazine brand is launching a ground-breaking music festival right here and it takes place this month, on September 30, at Café Amsterdam and La Vinoteca Barcelona. With a range of local musicians on the bill, playing everything from gypsy jazz to deep house, baroque rock to funk and folk, all music lovers are catered for.
Friday September 30. Café Amsterdam and La Vinoteca Barcelona. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Again, this might have opened as a dining spot but the upstairs lounge of this spacious restaurant is like another venue entirely. It has a DJ booth and long bar, with a menu of grape, hops and mixed beverages, as well as nightly beverage deals and DJ nights. With plenty of space to accommodate a crowd, we could foresee this place getting pretty popular with a party-going crowd.
Adliya, Block 338 (77 666 688).
QBA Inside at Tapas
Award-winning bar food and a venue with one of the best sea views on the island is what awaits at Tapas Bar & Restaurant. And as of last month, Cuban band QBA Inside (said like “Cuba”) is entertaining nightly from 9pm, as well as at the Sofitel Bahrain’s popular Friday brunch. Their style is a mix of traditional Cuban tunes, as well as contemporary international songs.
Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Rumbo Norte at An Nada
Five ladies – Angie, Marly, Yovonna, Martiza and Luz Esmerald – make up the brand-new band, Rumbo Norte, at the Sheraton’s An Nada lounge. The girls are from Colombia and they’re performing a range of songs and genres throughout the week, from 9.45pm, and at the hotel’s Chocoholic Brunch on Fridays.
Sheraton Bahrain, Manama (17 533 533).
Started back in February, the ShakeDown Club has been putting on sporadic events and dance classes, teaching the fine art of swing dancing. The memories of Louis Armstrong and Count Basie come alive at these nights, reviving a 1930s retro vibe through great music, company and vibes. These days, and as the weather cools down, they’re picking up the pace, with more fitness-focused dance classes at Studio RCT in Sanabis and more themed evenings and events planned for the rest of the year. Keep an eye on their Facebook
page for more details.
Soneando at Cellar 59
Vast, ambient lounge Cellar 59 now has a live music element to it, as the team has brought in new band Soneando straight from Cuba. The four-piece live band will get you in the Latin spirit at the venue nightly, as well as at Choices award-winning Friday brunch. Head there on a Wednesday, from 8pm to 11pm, for grape and cheese night, or on Thursdays for ladies’ night from 5pm onwards. Newly introduced is Mondays tapas night, when you can enjoy a tasting platter with paired beverages for BD8++ per person.
Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
If there’s one thing we love to do in Bahrain, it’s to shop. With plenty of malls and new stores popping up constantly, it could be described as our favourite pastime. Which is why we’ve rounded up some of the unique new openings from the past couple of months.
There’s been a slew of kids’ store openings lately and this new launch of the Korean brand by the Jawad Business Group is just one of them. allo&lugh stocks a range of brands and designs for children from newborn to 12 years of age. Expect vivid colours and cute motifs aplenty.
Seef Mall, Seef (77 911 113).
Caramelo Kids Boutique
A homegrown boutique in Tala Plaza Mall, Segaya, Caramelo is in the business of stocking fine, Spanish-made occasion-wear for newborns to early teenagers, elegant furniture fittings, bedding, and plenty more accessories for kids. Elisa Plaza Godoy, the Andalusian entrepreneur behind the opening, hand-picked every item during a business tour through Spain and has altered them to suit local needs. She also helps clients with baby showers and birthday listings, with a delivery service also available.
Tala Plaza Mall, Segaya (17 231 733).
El Mercado Mall
Janabiya isn’t exactly known as a shopping haven, but the newly opened El Mercado Mall is about to change that. Currently in its soft opening stage, the centre is set to officially launch next month, bringing with it a bunch of new restaurants and brands, as well as more branches of familiar favourites. Turn to page 70 to find out more.
Another kids’ brand has entered the market, with more excellent Spanish items for children of all ages. There’s a line of clothes for newborns, as well as juniors from eight to 16 years old, covering everything from fashionable casual wear to trendy accessories. That's the kids sorted then.
Seef Mall, Seef (77 911 113).
Muji Middle East
Just opened in City Centre Bahrain, Muji stocks thousands of top quality products at affordable prices. From clothes to stationery, home accessories to furniture, health and beauty products to gift items and everything in between – this might just become your new go-to one-stop shop for all your general lifestyle needs.
City Centre Bahrain, Seef (17 177 771).
This regional brand has launched its first-ever boutique outside the UAE in Al A’ali Shopping Complex. With a range of fashion friendly lingerie, maternity wear, swimwear and nightwear, TKD caters for sizes 28-46 D-K cups, featuring brands such as Panache, Freya, Cake Maternity, Curvy Cake and Cyberjammies, to name a few. As well as the fashion items, the brand also brings with it a professional fitting service.
Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef, www.tkdlingerie.com.
Family and leisure
Bahrain International Hotel
Granted, this is one of Bahrain’s oldest hotels, but it’s recently undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade and has now reopened as a four-star property in the heart of Manama. Offering traditional Arabian hospitality and 111 modern rooms, the hotels also boasts contemporary designs throughout, as well as a new banquet hall, a swimming pool, health club, gym and spa. Multi-cuisine restaurants, a lobby café, a licensed Western-style café and another lounge are all part of the expansion, too.
Government Avenue, Manama, www.bahraininternationalhotel.com (17 211 313).
A brand-new UK day nursery arrives in Bahrain just in time for a new term of preschool education. Evolution Childcare Saar, formerly Kids Academy, boasts top-notch facilities and professional, qualified teachers, and now they’re opening a new branch in Adliya, thanks to Bahraini entrepreneur Abeer Rasti and the brand’s CEO Sue Jones.
Evolution Childcare, www.evolution-childcare.co.uk, Saar (32 199 110), Adliya (32 063 696).
Lalapaloza mobile spa
Local kids’ store, party hall and spa Lalapaloza has launched a new concept where they now bring their services straight to your door. Got a little girl hankering for a birthday fit for a princess? This might just be the answer, as there are a range of options, including hair braiding and nail painting, and even a glittery make-up station, which can be set up in a venue of your choice. Turn to page 73 to find out more.
Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (17 101 612).
Mommy Wellness Day Spa
Officially launched at the beginning of this month, at The Courtyard in Seef, Mommy Wellness Day Spa is here to heal all motherly wellness woes. A South African brand, this will be the first GCC location and is set to become a haven for mums and mums-to-be, offering services such as prenatal and postnatal treatments, baby massage courses, and other pampering sessions. Treatments such as Mama Mio for anti-ageing, toning and tightening are available, as well as manicures and facials, to name a few.
The Courtyard, Seef (17 564 333).
Ramada Manama City Centre
Right in the heart of Seef, this brand-new hotel has finally opened its doors to the public. It boasts 150 modern rooms, ocean views, a rooftop swimming pool and fitness centre, as well as an all-day international coffee shop and Lebanese restaurant Reem Al Bawadi. There are half-board and family getaway packages now available, so take advantage.
Ramada Manama City Centre, Seef, www.ramadamanama-citycentre.com (17 104 000).
We’re a creative bunch in Bahrain and the island’s galleries are always pushing the boundaries when it comes to self-expression. There are a range of ways you can get involved right now, whether you’re an artist or not. This is what we recommend.
Arteastiq Social Painting Studio
Originally from Singapore, this tea shop and art studio has launched its first outlet in Bahrain at the Jawad Dome in Barbar. It’s a lovely meeting place for friends and family looking to sip tea, catch up and express themselves on canvas. For social occasions and special events, whether it’s a work event for team building, a kids’ birthday party or even a fun hen night, this is a must-try – just reserve a spot, grab an easel and get creative.
The Jawad Dome, Barbar (17 692 808).
Malja Photography Open-Call
The Amwaj-based creative hub has run open-call exhibitions in the past, but now they’re introducing their first-ever photography-focused event. Until September 10, they’re welcoming applications from all kinds of photographers for the chance to showcase their work in the exhibition, which will launch in October. The project is being led by the very talented Summer Ameen of Summer Weeks Photography.
Based in the Arts Centre, next to the Cultural Hall and Bahrain Museum, Seventh Wave is a new, local event space that will provide creative arts classes, youth performances, art shows and much more. It offers extra-curricular activities for children aged six to 15 in theatre, music, dance and fine arts, and aims to promote the importance of art in elevating kids’ skills and development. Classes will be available in both English and Arabic, plus girls-only and boys-only groups, or mixed group classes. The school itself is set to start in January 2017, while a Gala Night will be held on September 2, from 8pm to 10pm.
Seventh Wave, Arts Centre, Al Fateh Corniche (33 999 576).
The Gulf’s largest mosaic
Until November, there is an open-call, for the residents and tourists of Bahrain to submit photographs showing their love for the island, by the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority. Once they’ve collected all the images then they’ll be put together to create the largest mosaic in the Gulf region. The idea comes as part of the initiatives organised for Manama Capital of Gulf Tourism 2016. Turn to page 62 to find out more.
Everybody’s favourite annual outdoor art market is making a return this November at Al Riwaq Art Space, this time with the theme “Melting Pot”. The idea is to explore the ways culture is fused and integrated on this island, and the programme will include public art, workshops and pop-up events such as live music performances and film screenings. Right now, Al Riwaq is inviting emerging artists, curators, speakers and instructors to take part. If that's you, you have until October 7 to pitch. Turn to page 9 for more details.
Al Riwaq Art Space, Adliya, www.alriwaqartspace.com (17 717 441).
Health and fitness
There’s a burgeoning scene for health and fitness trends on the island right now, whether it’s for healthy food delivery, new exercise classes or starting a gym. Here are just a few new ways you can get fit and have fun.
New yoga experiences
Home-grown yoga studio Namaste has introduced aerial yoga, a unique levitation class, which is taught while your body (or at least parts of it) are supported by a yoga swing that’s suspended from the ceiling, helping you go deeper into your poses. There is also a new series of restorative yoga classes and a Moroccan retreat you can book yourself onto, when you’ll stay in a traditional villa in Marrakech and learn poses, breathing and meditation from November 11-18 (prices from BD450).
Namaste, Budaiya Highway (17 591 565).
Lift Strength & Conditioning Centre and Bahrain Boxing Club
Its name might be a bit of a mouthful, but this new gym and boxing club is worth your attention, as it’s the first official British Boxing Board of Control’s qualified club in Bahrain and the only Hatton Academy affiliate in the GCC. There’s plenty more
to it than uppercuts and right hooks though. Just turn to page 64 for more information.
Janabiya Highway, opposite Al Salam School, www.liftbh.com.
From our pals Tribal Fitness, The Summit is a relatively new fitness facility that recently opened in the Bahrain Financial Harbour, catering to Seef workers. Here, the highly qualified team host early morning, lunch hour and after-work sessions, using natural movement as their focus. We’re talking kettlebells, TRX (suspension training), endurance sessions and more. This month, they're running the Tribal Fitness Coaching Certification (September 13-17, 8am-5pm), which could see you realise your own coaching dreams. It costs BD300 overall.
From BD35 per month for membership. The Summit, Bahrain Financial Harbour, West Tower (17 300 859).