Polynesian island style
Trader Vic’s: Ah, the joy of soaking up the sun with a Tiki Puka Puka and one of Trader’s famous Caesar salads, or watching moonlit ripples across the koi pond over a plate of oysters. So long as we’re being ruffled by the gentle sea breeze out on the decking at our favourite Polynesian hotspot, we’re happy as clams in a Christmas Island cove.
The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel & Spa (17 586 555). Open 12 noon-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm daily.
On the road
Le Chocolat: Drag yourself past the divine dessert display if you can, because the terrace here is a fab place to re-fuel with Lebanese mezze or an excellent thin-crust pizza, while you watch the world drive by. When you’ve worked your way through the Chocolat special – topped with beef pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, parmesan and oregano cream – pick up a heavenly ice-cream cone for the road.
Seef (17 582 259). Open Sat-Tue 7.30am-12.30am, Wed-Thu 7.30am-1am; Fri 8am-1am.
Coco’s: Although the service leaves a lot to be desired, the cutesy courtyard at Coco’s is one of the cosiest in the Kingdom, with its bougainvillea-festooned canopy and the heady aroma of shisha at night. Good for a coffee or zingy chilled lemon and mint juice, we also enjoy the salads and the wholesome lasagne like Mama makes.
Adliya (17 716 512). Open 10am-12 midnight daily.
Cappuccino Café: The European-inspired menu at this suburban sanctuary is best enjoyed on its little patch of lawn garnished with flowers. Prices are good, quantities generous, and dishes like the popular grilled hammour with lemon sauce taste like homemade. On temperate days, you might have to fight for an outdoor table.
Saar (17 790 404). Open Sun-Wed 9am-11pm; Thu-Sat 9am-12 midnight.
Café Lilou: If it weren’t for the be-thobed and abaya-clad diners at surrounding tables, one might almost be in Paris when seated on the terrace of this French-style café. The place to see and be seen, it’s also the spot for tasty meal-sized salads like the kibbeh nouveau (minced lamb balls filled with pinenuts and mozzarella on a bed of rocket) and delectable cakes.
Adliya (17 714 440), Seef (17 583 939). Open Sat-Wed 8am-10.30pm; Thu 8am-11pm; Fri 10am-11pm.
Saffron: It’s not hard to be seduced by the fragrant, flavourful royal Thai cuisine at the Banyan Tree’s Saffron restaurant, but for added romance book a table on one of its little private islands, where your pad thai might be spiced up with a viewing of wildlife at the adjacent animal sanctuary.
Banyan Tree Desert Resort & Spa, Al Areen (17 845 000). Open 6.30pm-11.30pm daily.
Fire & water
Al Dar Islands: There’s nothing like a brisk sea breeze to work up an appetite, and we love heading out to Al Dar Island for a bit of surf ’n’ turf. For BD40 a day, you can hire a tent and barbecue spot to cook up your own al fresco meal, or you can take your pick from a range of seafood grills and sandwiches at the fuss-free beach café.
Off the coast of Sitra (39 991 377). Open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm; closed Mon.
The best in sea-sun
Rayes: Settle on the terrace of this beach club restaurant and feast on the view across Manama Bay as yachts bob in the cool blue waters beside you. The lunchtime buffet of international fare (served daily from noon-4pm) is perfect for a quick, calming bite away from the office. At night, a la carte Lebanese specialities come with a side of live music.
Coral Beach Club, Al Fateh Corniche, Diplomatic Area (17 312 700). Open 12 noon-12 midnight daily.
La Fontaine: Romance is always on the menu at this gallery restaurant, particularly when dining on the terrace. For lunch we love the chilled gazpacho or sesame sweet potato cakes with avocado puree, and for dinner, it has to be the crayfish with cep mushrooms and saffron rice.
La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art (17 230 123). Open Tue-Sun 10am-12 midnight.
Hit the roof
The Meat Company: The flame-grilled steaks served up at this South African hotspot are possibly the best on the island – perfectly matured, tender and enhanced by sauces like creamy mushroom or green peppercorn. At this time of year, we head to the roof terrace for drinks and nibbles like peri-peri chicken livers or the spicy South African sausage, boerewors.
Adliya (17 742 080). Open Sat-Tue 12.30pm-11.30pm; Wed-Fri 12.30pm-12 midnight.