In Bahrain, ‘Let’s do brunch’ rarely constitutes an empty threat. Whether it’s families out for a pleasant meal or clubbers topping up after Thursday night’s excesses, Friday brunch is a pursuit that seems to get the Kingdom eating… and eating. Just about every joint in town has offers guaranteed to have even the most discerning of glutton salivating. What they all have in common is the opportunity to eat and drink as much as you like and at the end of the day not worry (too much) about the bill. Read on for the low-down on our five favourite feasts.
*Prices are inclusive of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages unless otherwise stated.
Radisson Diplomat Hotel (39 466 834).
BD34 including unlimited house beverages and BD28 including house beverages for military. Kids under 6 eat free and kids between 6 to 12 half price. Fri noon-3.30pm.
A reliably rowdy affair, the Diplomat Brunch is not for the faint-hearted. Live music is provided courtesy of the amusingly inept in-house band, who will also drag unwitting birthday boys and girls or leavers up onto the stage to take part in farcical catwalk parades or dance competitions. Although the food isn’t bad, the emphasis nonetheless is on quantity rather than quality. For mains, choose from the sushi bar, live cooking stations, the carvery and buffet which offers anything from English breakfasts to biriyanis. Free flowing bubbly is included in the price, although trying to get the waiter to stop at your table with the bottle can be a challenge. The brunch finishes at 3pm, but the fun doesn’t stop there, as the majority move on down to the Fiddler’s Green pub on the ground floor where the merriment continues well into the evening. If you make it to midnight then you’ll be considered a ‘pro’.
Golden Tulip Hotel
Diplomatic Area (17 535 000).
Hours Friday 12.15pm-4pm. Cost BD14.
If you’re after a more civilised, sophisticated brunch, then get yourself to the Golden Tulip. This spread offers plenty of choice, with flavours from every corner of the globe.
The salad bar is particularly impressive. Not only do you have a wide variety of mezze, but a selection of European and Asian-inspired salads too. For mains, take your pick of locally caught shellfish and crustaceans, and then choose your method of preparation. The grilled lobster or crayfish, cooked outside on a barbecue, is particularly recommended. For a sweet-tooth the mediocre miniature pastries and the obligatory chocolate fountain may be a little disappointing. Entertainment is provided by a duo whose renditions of old ‘favourites’ offer little more than a quiet auditory backdrop. On the plus side, it does mean that you can have a conversation with tablemates, rather than a shouting match.
Movenpick Hotel Bahrain
Muharraq (17 460 000).
Hours Friday 12.30pm-4pm. Cost BD24.
One word describes this feast – enormous. The brunch is spread throughout the hotel’s three restaurants with different food stations in different locations. Indeed, the long duration of the brunch provides a chance to walk around and explore all the food stations, as well as walk off some of the calories you’ve already consumed. There are live cooking stations serving fresh fish, meat and curry. Desserts are a sweet dream while the cheese station is cleverly set out in the wine cellar between two of the restaurants, giving it something of a continental feel. Throw into the mix a live band, plus balloon modelling and face painting for nippers, and it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular brunches on the island.
Ric’s Kountry Kitchen
Juffair (17 725 550).
Hours Friday 11.30am-3pm. Cost BD11.
Situated slap bang in the heart of Bahrain’s ‘little America’, it’s not surprising that the majority of the patrons who frequent Ric’s brunch are Yanks from the nearby naval base. The crowd and venue are very much an acquired taste, but if you’re looking for hearty, home-style American cooking, you can’t go far wrong. The brunch is held upstairs in the restaurant villa, in an unusual room that consists of two levels. You’ll get a somewhat quieter experience if you choose to sit on the lower level, as the upper one, where the buffet and the bar are based, gets rather raucous later on.
As for the food, expect around 10 tasty Tex-Mex style dishes, plus a few live cooking stations. Time Out suggests going completely OTT by starting off with an American-style breakfast of bacon with beans before tucking into the succulent, meat-heavy ribs. The steaks are enormous and work especially well when paired with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy. While you gorge, a lone musician strums a decent selection of classic songs and you’re positively encouraged to put in requests or else get up and sing yourself.
Ritz Carlton Brunch
(17 586 499).
Hours Friday noon-4pm. Cost BD19.
As you would expect, the Ritz’s brunch is a glitzy affair. Yet despite the smart surroundings, a party atmosphere prevails. Indeed, a birthday celebration always includes a cake and a song from the staff. And so to the food…the buffet here is wide and wonderful. Arabic staples share space with sushi. There’s also an Indian station serving pani puri and the delicious little batter cakes bursting with lentils are to die for. A wide selection of main dishes from roasts to pasta completes the savoury section. After those are launched down your foodpipe it’s time to move onto the sweets, most of which will have you guiltily rushing back for second helpings. Save some room, however, for the seriously good cheese board.