New Mediterranean restaurant in Bahrain

Time Out Says

It’s challenging when reviewing a new restaurant to reconcile its lofty concept with its fledgling execution. Florence has so much going for it that you’re almost willing it to be better than it is. But, right now, it has a lot of work to do.

First impressions are positive. Whoever designed the place knows their way around rustic décor and pastel shades; it’s subtle yet distinctive without stuffiness, modern and light rather than chintzy.

But first impressions are often dispelled under the spotlight. The staff, though charming and friendly, are not well-versed in the idea of the restaurant. It seems communication between kitchen and front-of-house is lacking, as we’re left none the wiser about what to order after a chat with our waitress. Despite this, we opt for an accomplished gratin with tortillas that’s not too heavy and has a perfectly browned crust. It’s a glimpse of what Florence can do.

Next up are fried brie balls, which turn out to made of feta — something which isn’t noticed until we point it out. Although we’re given a free portion of brie and fruit in recompense, one would hope the kitchen might know the difference.

The entrées are a similarly mixed bag. The striploin is tough and fatty. Even a piquant pepper sauce can do nothing to mitigate obvious deficiencies – you can’t serve up steak like that and charge almost BD9.

Meanwhile, the salmon fares much better – crispy skin envelops the pleasurably chunky flakes beneath, and it’s stuffed with feta and spinach for a fresh flavour.

Although it’s hard to be certain, the mixed experience we have feels like an aberration. There’s too much good stuff going on here for Florence to be so underwhelming, but given the excess of quality venues nearby, it’s going to have to up its game to get a seat at the top table.

The bill (for two)

Gratin BD3.7
Capuccino BD1.5
Double espresso BD1.5
Pasta brie balls BD4.7
Small still water BD1
Striploin BD8.8
Stuffed Salmon BD8.2
Total (with 15%service) BD36

The bottom line
Florence has promise, but there’s a long way to go before it’s in the running with the big boys.

By Time Out Bahrain staff  | 24 May 2016

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