Last year, not much more than eight months after the Friday brunch at Art Rotana first launched, it was awarded our coveted Highly Commended Best Brunch accolade at the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards 2015. This was, in part, because the team had already managed to pull off something not many others had – to create a vibe that’s family friendly, buzzing and yet still sophisticated. And that is still the case today. In fact it’s just gotten better, as it’s expanded onto the terrace and has a DJ.
The Amwaj Islands hotel, for most people in Bahrain, could easily be “too far” to travel, but on Fridays people come from all over the country to try the brunch (although we’re still fairly certain their average ratio of Amwaj residents and in-house guests is pretty high).
We can see why. There is live music keeping the atmosphere alive (we recommend booking a seat on the terrace for this reason), there are various beverages on offer, and there is a colourful kids’ zone with soft play, supervised games, a PlayStation and films showing. The modern space in general is beautifully designed, spacious and bright, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the resort’s beach and garden area.
But any brunch would be nothing if it wasn’t for the food, and here it is the most impressive. The spread is incredible, with everything from the obligatory cold and hot mezze, salads and soups, to fresh seafood and sushi, but the focus is on the live cooking stations. These are dotted about the open kitchen area and include wok-fried creations, Mexican classics, flavourful Indian fare, juicy grills, rich pastas and even that good-old Middle Eastern favourite, the shawarma. Our favourite, however, is the carvery, which serves proper, succulent slabs of roast beef and all the delicious trimmings of a traditional British roast dinner.
As for the desserts, we haven’t found anything to fault so far. The customary rows of prettily presented, colourful and dainty desserts are lined up in jars, but there’s also ice-cream, waffles and pancakes made-to-order, a chocolate fountain and even a marshmallow grill. We specifically test out the creamy, flavourful, classic version of the umm ali, and it’s one of the best we’ve tried on the island.
As brunch prices are getting steeper, it’s more important than ever for venues to offer the full package – faultless food, professional service and a great atmosphere that caters to all types. Choices has it all and then some.
BD34 net (food and house beverages), BD10 (children six to 12), free (children under six). Friday 12.30pm-4pm. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
The bottom line
A relaxing, fun Friday brunch that’s worth your hard-earned cash.