The first word that comes to mind when walking into Indigo Restaurant is oasis. This calm spot, located on the rooftop of the Merchant House, is right next to the bustling Manama Souq, not that you’d be able to tell.
The interior is gorgeous and filled with plenty of paintings, but you’ll want to head straight outside to the shaded terrace where you’ll find more plants than you can count. And if that wasn’t enough foliage for you, the sofas and chairs are all covered in a pink and green floral pattern that makes this spot very Instagram friendly.
This calm feeling extends to the clientele – as far as we can tell, there’s only one other group who’ve bought the brunch package, while everyone else is enjoying a lazy breakfast or lunch. No matter, though – it means we get the boutique experience that this hotel is all about.
There’s no buffet here, but we’re handed an extensive menu that covers everything from blueberry pancakes and sea bass sashimi to seared scallops and lamb shank.
Neither of us eat meat and we’re told the chef, Robert Shipman, has prepared an entirely vegetarian version of the brunch – which is a nice change from restaurants who just bring out their (usually very limited) meat-free options.
After settling down in a nice shaded spot, and being brought over first glass of grape, the food quickly starts to roll out.
The olive bread is devoured almost instantly, and the grilled halloumi with chipotle jam is absolutely delicious. The blueberry pancakes are unbelievably fluffy inside and have that perfect crisp on the outside, and we’ll definitely return for these for breakfast sooner rather than later.
Every dish is better than the last, and we’re not just saying that because of the steady flow of grape. The avocado and asparagus sushi is an interesting combination that just works, and the wafu (it's a Japanese dressing) salad is delicious despite being incredibly simple.
By the time the mains arrive, we’re almost stuffed to the brim but power through because the potato dauphinoise and mushroom risotto are real highlights. The truffle oil in the risotto gives it an incredible flavour, and the dauphinoise is so delicious by itself you won’t even miss the scallops and prawns. The desserts are beautifully presented, and we particularly enjoy the chocolate fondant.
Service throughout the brunch is incredible, and the staff are quick to offer us the sparkling grape they want to show off. The chef also comes over to check we’re enjoying the food (we can’t sing its praises enough), and tells us a little of his journey to Bahrain.
The only awkward moment arises when we’re told the brunch cut off is 3pm, whereas the website says 4pm, but staff honour the incorrect timings anyway.
If you’re looking for a calm brunch with next-level food, we can’t recommend Merchant House enough. It’s a real hidden gem and we can’t wait for more people to experience it.
BHD28 (soft drinks), BHD38 (house beverages). Every Fri noon-3pm. Merchant House, Manama (1667 1000).