Time Out Says
Having my free time limited to about three and a half minutes a day has made me a master of multi-tasking. I can eat while I drive, snack while I shop and nibble while I’m nodding off at night. For people like me, shopping mall restaurants are a saviour. It is fast food that can seem reasonably healthy, and you can fit five minutes of shopping in between ordering and eating.
So it was with some relief that I noticed three new restaurants opening up next to H&M in Seef Mall under the umbrella of People’z Place (a spelling that even Americans must find odious and offensive). There’s a bright pink Indian, a lush red Chinese, and an Italian shoved in the middle of them which, colour-wise, is a bit of both.
Seef Mall has always seemed a bit of a sad older sister of a mall, particularly since Bahrain City Centre opened a couple of years ago. In spite of the fact that parking can be nightmare, the mall always seems rather under-frequented and even a little dull. So the brightness of these restaurants is a welcome incongruity in the expanse of blandness that pervades their location.
First up, the Indian restaurant called Papadom. Luminous pink upholstery, diamante chandeliers, mirrors on everything and even a surprise water feature at the back of the restaurant make for a scene straight out of the Playboy mansion. That I was given the menu by a terribly polite and well dressed waiter and not a bunny girl came as a bit of a shock. What the restaurant does well is to stun diners with light and colour, which makes the mall look positively dark, and thereby distances itself from the dowdy shell that houses it.
For such a small restaurant (at a glance, it can seat no more than 40) the menu is extensive. Tandoori specialities corner the first half of the menu, with curry dominant in the rest. Bombarded with colours and light and choice from the menu I went for the strategy of ordering everything the waiter recommended, which lumbered me with a couple of starters and a main I’d never heard of.
My mulligatawny soup arrived barely 30 seconds after I’d ordered it, looking suspiciously like dal and tasting rather sour. I like mulligatawny soup primarily for its name, which not only sounds like something to have come out of an Edward Lear poem, but also because it translates as ‘pepper water’ and thus one supposes to be quite fiery. But no fire here, only sour.
The fish peshwari tikka was sold to me by the waiter as a herbier version of the much-loved (by me at any rate) tandoori fish tikka, which is cooked in much the same way. Sadly, in their rush (again, two minutes later it appeared), when it came it was rather wet and could have been cooked for longer and made crisper. The taste was, however, pretty spot on, and I’d gobbled it all before I could ask for it to be popped back in the oven to crispen.
By this stage, I was pretty well done in. The light and the colours seemed to have filled me up as much as the food, and I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all. But on came the baingon dupiaza, a wonderful curry made from aubergine, paired with some lovely jeera rice. Served in the traditional copper pot which was slightly out of keeping with the cheap flash furnishings, the curry really was terrific, and I nearly burst trying to stuff in as much as I possibly could before the bright pink surroundings sent me under.
I staggered out of the restaurant and into H&M’s changing rooms in an attempt to compose myself, before rolling down the escalators and into a passing car. Seef Mall is a far cry from posh nosh, and People’z Place is an oddity of brash light and flash colours within it, one that is actually rather endearing. Sure, the fittings are cheap and the atmosphere is lacking, but the waiting staff are wonderful and the food occasionally terrific. Besides, when people like me leave the office, we need bright lights and friendly faces – it’s the only thing that keeps us awake.
The bill (for one)
Mulligatawny soup BD1.500
Fish Peshwari tikka BD3.800
Baingon dupiaza BD2.500
Jeera rice BD1.200
Small water BD0.700
Total (incl. tax) BD11.155
By Time Out Bahrain staff | 30 Dec 2010
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