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10 best dishes in Bahrain

Every year, the Time Out Bahrain team spends many hours (and dinars) eating our way around the country’s best restaurants in time for our annual Restaurant Awards ceremony. Throughout the process, we uncover some seriously stand-out dishes from all sorts of spots that have us day-dreaming for months. From cheap and cheerful but amazingly flavourful plates to Michelin quality pieces of art, we reveal, in no particular order, our 20 favourite dishes of 2014.

Baby spinach and goat’s cheese salad
La Vinoteca Barcelona

It might not sound particularly Spanish but we’ve been raving about this dish ever since we first set eyes on it. Firstly, the plate is a stunning and colourful work of art that never fails to impress. It would be difficult to name every ingredient on the plate in this space, as it’s abundant, but you’ve got your fresh baby spinach and velvety goat’s cheese, alongside creamy quinoa and other tiny flavour infusions like a tart terrine, fruit puree and sticky balsamic reduction. We’ve forced it upon a few salad skeptics and turned them into drooling fanboys so we wholeheartedly recommend this dish to you too.

Shepherd’s pie
Café Amsterdam

This brand new Dutch-inspired café serves wholesome grub alongside lighter fare but we think they do comfort food best, especially when it comes to this flavoursome shepherd’s pie. It comes neatly presented and generously portioned, and it’s best enjoyed with a healthy portion of the Paatjes Special (chips with onions, mayonnaise and curry sauce). It’s hearty food that can’t get any better.

Spicy Angus beef tenderloin

While we’ve tried a smattering of exquisite dishes in Akiko this year so far, it’s the ‘Gyuhire Sumbiyaki Karami Sauce Zuke’ that’s really stolen our hearts. In English, this means the spicy Angus beef tenderloin with sesame, red chilli and sweet soy. The presentation of the dish is simple yet elegant, keeping in line with the contemporary cool style of Akiko. When we first tasted it, the medium-rare steak we ordered had been cooked to perfection and the garnishes really made this dish soar.

Lobster linguine

A timeless classic – the lobster linguine is a constant favourite among foodies and Italian cuisine lovers. But it can either end up being a shining star on the menu, or a major let-down. Luckily, at the stylish and contemporary Italian restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain the former is the case. The chefs at Primavera have got cooking lobster down to a fine art, and the result is a dish so flavourful with the seafood so delectable, and the pasta the perfect amount of al dente.

Unicorn rolls
Thai Lounge

It might seem strange for us to be recommending a Japanese dish from a South East Asian bar concept but Thai Lounge, by the poolside at The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, has become well known for serving up some incredible sushi. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, the unicorn rolls are easily our favourite, and often cited by the Kingdom’s sushi lovers as some of the best rolls this island has to offer with its teasing textures, deep flavours and fresh ingredients.

Scallop and shitake dim sum

Initially, our reviewers were a bit reluctant to try this variety of dim sum from popular South East Asian spot Wok. This is because it contains not one, but two, ingredients that can so easily go wrong in the kitchen. However, the skill with which both the scallop and shitake are cooked, and the ways in which the flavours used fuse and harmoniously tie these little steamed parcels of joy together, is nothing short of genius.

Chocolate shawarma

For sheer novelty value, this dessert could not be missed out on this list. The kitchen team at Bayti, using a customised shawarma machine, have paired Bahrain’s most popular national snack with the world’s favourite dessert ingredient. The chefs shave sprinklings of delicious chocolate from the machine into a crepe-like wrap and then serve it alongside some melted chocolate dipping sauce, smooth vanilla ice cream and apple cinnamon-crusted ‘chips’. It’s a combination that works incredibly well and, despite yourself, you’ll polish the entire platter off.

Chocolate fondant

A second timeless classic makes it onto this list, as its very rare that someone would turn down a chocolate fondant. It’s an incredibly difficult dish to get right, never mind perfect, but chic Japanese restaurant Mirai has managed to do just that.
Their version of the chocolate fondant has no frills but thanks to the quality of ingredients used, and the mad pastry-making skills from the kitchen, this is easily one of the best and most delicious desserts we’ve had all year.

Potato Gnocchi with mixed mushrooms

It might not be an obvious choice for a ‘best dish’ but Saveur’s gnocchi is gourmet, homely, sophisticated and comforting all rolled into one. The gnocchi, which has a super soft middle and excellently crispy casing, is covered with mushrooms, artichokes, garlic, fresh sage and virgin olive oil, a tomato-based light sauce and a medley of flavours, including what we detect as a hint of nutmeg, that makes it taste so autumnal and lovely that even though it’s generously portioned and heavy, will make you keep eating until there’s no morsel left.

Beef lasagne

Diners that have been to Time Out Restaurant of the Year 2014, Masso, all have their own favourite dish but, this year, we’ve been wow-ed by the beef lasagne that often appears on their award-winning brunch menu. Even though there are plenty of dishes to choose from every week, we always order seconds of this as the sauce with mirepoix is bursting with flavour, and the meat and pasta are always perfect.

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