Tapas under the Moon


Aaah the weather has shifted.  The humidity disappeared last weekend and the air was a comfortable 90 degrees.  Time to sit outside.

On this island it is a challenge to find a nice restaurant or café that overlooks the water.   We offered to take our Saudi guest to the Ritz Carlton to have drinks at Mai Tai, a “private” bar set off from the Trader Vic’s meat market.  Minutes before we left, I was told the police blocked the highway around the Burgerland Roundabout due to a funeral/protest.  Not wanting to spend the evening in traffic we decided to head south.

The Thai restaurant at the Al Areen Resort (previously known as The Banyan Tree Desert Resort) had good food and a nice deck that didn’t overlook the sea.  Since things have changed the last few months, I decided to call before we drove the half hour out there.  Good thing I did because the receptionist apologetically whined “It’s closed Madame.”

“Really? What restaurants are open?”

“Only the (something I couldn’t understand) is open.”

If things had deteriorated that much, I’d better ask the important question.  “Do they serve alcohol?”

“No Madame.”  That quickly ended the call.  It’s too bad, my husband and I loved their villas with the private courtyards and pools.

The other option was the new Sofitel in Zallaq.  The Sofitel is beautiful and far away from downtown.  Still it’s an easy drive straight down the new highway towards the Bahrain International Circuit (the BIC).  Instead of turning left at the light towards the BIC, Al Areen and the Lost Paradise waterpark, you continue straight towards Zallaq, a small village.  You can’t miss the Sofitel, the road ends at the front security gate.

Previously we took the family for Friday Brunch at Sofitel’s Saraya.  The first time it was good.  The second time it was less than average.  In June, my husband and I went with another couple to try Fiamma, the Italian restaurant.  All four of us agreed it was well below satisfactory including the discussion we had with our waitress when she brought the wrong champagne.

I called the number listed in the Bahrain Hotel & Restaurant Guide 2011.  The operator answered “Sheraton Bahrain Good Evening.”

“What this is not the Sofitel?”  I checked the guide again.  Yes I dialed the correct number.  Then I noticed the Sheraton Hotel and number was listed just above the Sofitel and both phone numbers were the same!   Some smart Sheraton rep figured out a way to harass their new competitor.

But we will not be defeated.  I checked the Sofitel website.

The Tapas Bar was an option for drinks and snacks.  I called and the receptionist declared “all of our restaurants are open.”   I lowered my food expectations and got excited about avoiding traffic and sitting outside under the moon.

One of our favorite cities is Barcelona.  We enjoy sitting at the tapas bars people watching while having wine and choosing little plates of hot and cold dishes – fresh baguette slices, Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, olives, chorizo and calamari in aioli.  So we know what a tapas bar can be.

Being in a Muslim country I really wondered what would be served instead of pork?  Usually pork was replaced with turkey ham and beef bacon.

We were pleasantly surprised the menu included Serrano ham and chorizo.  The calamari was grilled not fried.  Shavings of manchego cheese were served with dried bits of bread stick.  They had good meatballs, decent prawns and mussels.  My favorite was a hot bite of meat covered with cheese and served on bread.

The décor was pretty but the place lacks the vibe of a Spanish tapas bar.  The advertised dj was replaced by a track of Spanish guitar music.  And the Filipino staff does not understand the joys of nibbling slowly a dish or two at a time (our waitress needed to take the entire order first and brought us 11 plates all at once).  But like I wrote, the weather was great and it was nice to enjoy casual dining outside.

We parked in the front hotel parking lot and walked out along the beach to the restaurant.  Had I been wearing heels I would have complained.  We did discover there is a road and parking lot right next to the restaurant to accommodate women in abayas and stilettos.  The Tapas Bar is on the lower level and the upper level is La Mer, the seafood restaurant.

And by the way, The Sofitel Hotel number is 17 636363.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. a fan of Tales of Dragons, Rabbits and Roosters
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 04:46:22

    loved catching up on your blog..again!
    always brings a smile and a different perspective on often very familiar subjects.
    thank you dragon e.


  2. Eva the Dragon
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 10:03:28

    Thanks for checking in. It made my day. xo Eva


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