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Ritz Carlton Bahrain Gourmet Lobby Lounge Review

The weather is amazing.  And when the weather is amazing in Bahrain, people jump at the chance for al fresco dining.  A place that I’ve been gradually hearing more buzz about is the newly opened Ritz Gourmet Lobby Lounge outdoor terrace.  The setting is beautiful, with comfortable chairs on a patio overlooking the manicured grounds and swimming pool of one of the swankiest hotels in Bahrain.  Sheesha is available, with a multitude of flavor combinations, which for many will be a huge drawing point.  Indoors, the decor is very reminiscent of London afternoon tea parlors, and is elegant and luxurious without being overdone.  I was most excited about their dessert sundaes, since I feel there is a real lack of sundae places in Bahrain.  We ordered saffron tea, american coffee, tiramisu sundaes, oreo brownie sundaes, and the lobster mac and cheese to try.  The saffron tea was delicious, it had an exotic undertone of flavor without being overpowering.  The lounge also has an extensive tea cocktail menu, which is cold blended tea drinks that I still haven’t tried.  Next came the lobster mac and cheese. 

It was good, but nothing that I’d really crave again.  The sauce was mild and creamy, the lobster pieces were good sized but the whole combination seemed to lack a little flavor.  A few bites, and I was bored of the dish and ready for dessert.  And dessert came looking very good.

The portion size was good, filling without being excessive, and surprisingly I liked the tiramisu sundae more.  The coffee poured over it gave the ladyfingers a nice moistness and the white chocolate whipped cream gave the needed sweetness.  The oreo and brownie sundae was good, but nothing amazing.  The brownie bits were a little dry and the oreos being present in their whole form instead of crumbled also made the sundae a little dry and hard to eat. 

What redeems the Ritz’s lounge for its exorbitant prices (3.300 BD for coffee, 4 BD for each sundae) and slightly above average food is the beautiful ambiance and the setting in which you eat.  I felt like I was somewhere other than Bahrain, the pleasing views, comfortable chairs and attentive service made this a place I know I’ll go again and again.  Only next time, I think I’ll stick to drinks and dessert maybe choosing something from their exquisite looking pastry display case.  Check out the full menu here!

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Fatty Dab’s Burger Shack Review- By Farah and Mira

Looking for a great burger in Amman? Well look no further than Fatty Dab’s Burger Shack in Abdoun. This is the place to go for fat authentic American style burgers, thick creamy shakes and warm gooey homemade cookies. The menu features a good selection of unique burgers, with unique toppings not usually offered in Jordan. The burger meat is organic from their own farms in Madaba.  We went on a beautiful sunny day, and took advantage of the small outdoor seating area., a much needed extension to the small limited indoor area. Even so, be prepared to wait to wait for a table as the place is usually crowded, for good reason! However things move smoothly and the best feature of this American style burger place is the American style service. We were given helpful suggestions on what to order, the waiters were friendly and happy, and we even scored a couple of warm cookie sundaes on the house, which is basically our favorite Amman dessert so far.

The burger came stacked high, with lots of fresh toppings and sharp flavorful cheeses. The bacon was recommended to us, and we were glad to find a crispy piece of bacon, instead of the floppy boiled piece of meat that so often passes for bacon in the middle east. The meat was juicy, but some of our party found the standard medium-well was too pink, so be sure to specify if you like your burger more cooked. We tried the Classic, the Fatty Dab’s and the Chicago, and the Sunrise (burger connoisseurs would love this perfectly cooked egg with runny yolk) each has its own unique mouthwatering flavor.The burgers come with crispy skin-on rustic fries and a drink, which is a good deal considering most places nowadays consider these sides as extra orders. The meal is a bit pricey at 8JD plus tax, but we can honestly say it was worth it, far superior to other cheaper burger places in Amman.  If your feeling more diner-ish, try a shake with your meal, they are thick, creamy and out of this world! May we suggest the cookie dough milkshake, which comes with chunks of cookie dough and hot fudge ribbons.
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Don’t leave before you get dessert, all the ice-cream used in the shakes and sundaes is homemade, we observed as real vanilla beans were incorporated in the ice cream batter, and the cookies are baked fresh, so expect a 10-minute wait for the cookie sundae, one of the best desserts you will find here. The result is a warm cookie which is gooey in the middle, crispy on the edges and topped with cold, sweet vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot chocolate sauce. The perfect end to the perfect meal.
 

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Gusto Bahrain Restaurant Review

I don’t go to Saar very frequently to eat out, which is probably why I’ve pretty much ignored Gusto, a pizzeria that opened a few months ago.  Until now, that is.  After reading a mention in Time Out Bahrain, I went for dinner with a group of friends, and again a few days later with parents.  The reason I went again is because I think I found my new favorite pizza in Bahrain!  There were definitely a few hit and misses though.  I’ll combine the dishes that were ordered on the two separate occasions for ease of review.

 

 The pizzas are made in a traditional wood burning oven, and it shows.  They are light and crispy, thin style authentic Italian pizzas.  I’m no pizza snob, I definitely enjoy Papa John’s from time to time, but after a trip to Italy last summer I like to think I know what good authentic pizza constitutes.  And Gusto’s pizza base is exactly what I like.  Crispy at the edges, with a thin crust that’s the tiniest bit charred on the edges while maintaining its chewiness towards the center. 

 We ordered a artichoke goat cheese salad with roasted peppers, diavolo pizza which is pepperoni with spicy peppers, a quattro formaggi pizza, a pizza with ricotta cheese and artichokes (not pictured), and a margherita with additional buffalo mozzarella on top (Doc margharita).  I was very excited about the salad, and thought it looked great, but the taste disappointed me.  The goat cheese was tough and rubbery, and the few roasted red peppers didn’t mix well with the lettuce leaves.  If it had been a lettuceless salad, with a pile of roasted red and yellow peppers, artichokes and creamy goat cheese they would have had a hit.  The artichokes, both in the salad and on top of the pizza tasted canned, I usually love artichokes but I ended up pushing these to the side.  The toppings on the pizzas themselves were hit and miss.The quattro formaggi was very bland; I couldn’t even detect any sauce under the heaviness of the cheese.  But the next two pizzas completely redeemed the place and one in particular, the doc margherita, is the reason I ended up going back the same week.  The margherita was spectacular, the buffalo mozerella was gooey and melted, the basil tasted very fresh and added a flavor that permeated the whole pizza and the tomato sauce also tasted light, fresh and perfectly seasoned.  Everyone agreed that was the clear winner.  The diavolo was also really good, with crispy spicy pepperoni, but the pepperoni was a little too much, those of you who like really meaty pizzas will like this, while I like a little less meat to really taste the cheese and crust. 

The second time I went back, I ended up getting the same margherita with buffalo mozarella pizza and a shrimp pasta (pasta with gamberoni, giant shrimp, rocket, and cherry tomatoes).  The presentation was really nice, I was immediately excited to dig in.  And the pasta didn’t disappoint!  It’s done in true Italian style, with very little sauce, just olive oil and a touch of tomato, with a lot of garlic.  The shrimp was huge and cooked perfectly, but I didn’t like that it came in the peel (I like my food totally ready to eat).  The pasta overall was a bit salty for my taste, but if I combined roasted sweet cherry tomatoes and rocket with each bite it evened it out.  My parents ordered the seafood pasta (I don’t eat squid or octopus) and they really liked it, but also had the same complaint that it was a little salty.  If the sauce had a bit more tomato in it to give it a more substantial feel, I think I’d like it even more.

   Regardless, go to Gusto if only for the pizza, but be careful of some options on the menu that won’t impress as much.  I’d advise you to go simple, try the buffalo mozzarella margherita pizza, and what seems to be their speciality on the pasta end, the seafood pastas.

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Restaurant Review- The Cake Shop Cafe

Late last night I had a major sugar craving which could only be satisfied by cake. Well, cake and cookies actually. And who better to join me in my search for sugar than my sister in law, Maha who loves desserts as much as we do. We decided to go to The Cake Shop Cafe. The cafe itself is adorable, with pastel colors and a vintage floral theme.

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The first display is the cupcakes, and after carefully studying the selection, I didn’t find anything that really caught my interest. There are basic chocolate, red velvet and carrot cupcakes but I was disappointed in the lack of more creative flavors. The cookies are another story, the counter boasts a variety of bite sized tea cookies. I don’t usually crave tea cookies, but these mini biscuits are not like the ones your are used to, they are crisp and light. We got a box of mixed cookies, The shortbread cookies are my favorite, they have a buttery, crumbly texture with a hint of vanilla. The chewy chocolate cookies dusted with powdered sugar need to be a little sweeter, they lacked the strong chocolate taste you would expect. The chocolate shortbread are much better, with a strong cocoa flavor and the same crumbly texture as their vanilla counterpart. The mini chocolate chip cookies are delightful, slightly chewy with a nutty flavor from the finely chopped walnuts and dotted with chocolate pieces, there is even a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie for those who like their cookies even chewier. The homemade ferrero rocher is very good, filled with chopped nuts although the outside coating didn’t lend much to the flavor of the cookie. The coconut needed a little creaminess to offset the coconut texture. The cookies were arranged in a nice box, making them perfect for gift giving or even to pick up when guests are coming over.

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 And now the cakes! of the large variety present, we chose the brownie cheesecake, the carrot cake, and lazy cake (my husbands favorite). The brownie cheesecake was phenomenal, light creamy filling on top of a chewy brownie crust studded with brownie pieces. My one criticism is that there should be more brownie pieces inside, I think I only got two in my slice.  I liked that the carrot cake was two layers, because that meant more frosting, and the cream cheese frosting was perfect. The cake was a touch on the dry side, although I did appreciate the lack of raisins that are traditionally included in carrot cake. My husband enjoyed his lazy cake, I thought it was very good, especially because the biscuits remained crispy in their milk chocolate surroundings. 

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All in all, I would highly recommend The Cake Shop Cafe as a place to stop by and get a cup of coffee and try one of the amazing cakes. I think it is also a great option for picking up some sweets to enjoy at home. Next time I would go and try their breakfast, and until that time, Happy Baking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Potbelly Sandwich Shop Review

 

Clubby

Potbelly Sandwich Shop recently opened in Bahrain City Center, and is a much welcomed additon to a niche that had been lacking in the mall; casual but not fast food sandwiches.By non fast food, I mean not Subway.  I personally am not a fan of Subway, their ingredients and bread to me taste processed and not fresh.  For that reason, I didn’t assume I’d really like Potbelly because I thought it was a restaurant in the same vein.  However, I like trying all new restaurants so I decided to give it a try and went yesterday.  The place was busy but in a pleasant way, and service was efficient and friendly which meant everything moved quickly.  Their menu revolved around subs, original or big size, with a few salad choices that actually sounded pretty interesting to me.  They also have some skinny sub options, with less meat cheese and bread, and even the regular subs can be ordered with 1/3 less bread.  I ordered a clubby, which was a turkey breast, smoked turkey, and bacon sub on multigrain bread with ranch dressing.  You choose any toppings you want, and I got everything which included tomatoes, pickles, spicy peppers, lettuce, mayo and mustard.  My dad got the roast beef sub, both of us in big size and we got a side of steak fries.  The subs are delivered toasted and cut in half.

Roast beef sub

Now, I was very pleasantly surprised.  The bread was crusty which is how I like it, tasted fresh and the amount of meat and cheese was perfect.  The bacon was crisp, which I find to be a rarity in the Middle East, and the serving size was more than sufficient, an original size would have filled me up.  The vegetables were crispy and fresh, the meat didn’t taste overly processed or rubbery.  Both subs were really good, I usually like roast beef but I actually liked my clubby more.  I felt it was juicier and had a more interesting play on ingredients.  My one complaint was that both sandwiches were a little dry, I actually felt the need to get some mayo on the side and spread some more on and I’m not even a huge mayo fan.  I highly recommend the spicy peppers which are a mix of spicy jalapenos, carrots, cauliflowers.  The fries are nothing special, thick cut but soggy.  I need my french fries to have a crispy exterior!  You are better off going for potato chips if you need a starchy side.  I spotted a few people having milkshakes with adorable little cookies threaded through the straws, which made me really want to go back to try them.  Another thing on my to try list is their ice cream sandwiches made with their homemade cookies.  I tried their oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and it was good.  Soft and chewy, nothing outlandishly good but a good cookie if you are craving one.  They should look into the addition of wraps or paninis on their menu, something for those who want a sandwich that isn’t necessarily a sub.  For two “big” subs, one fountain drink, one snapple, and a steak fries, we ended up paying around 8 BD which is very reasonable.

All in all, for someone who is skeptical of fast-ish food and a great advocate of at home subs, Potbelly managed to surprise me.  I left feeling good about my meal, and it’s a place I’ll go back to.  If you feel like a fast casual meal and you happen to be in City Center, check it out.  You can find their menu here (with a few substitutions for pork items in Bahrain)

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T Spoon Kempinski Hotel Review

Just like I hate wasting time on recipes that don’t turn out well,  I hate wasting my appetite on restaurants that disappoint.  I think there is a desperate need for proper restaurant reviews in Bahrain, so I add this category to everylittlecrumb so that people can benefit some from my quite frequent trips to restaurants and see my musings while eating my way through Bahrain.  Comments and reviews are very welcome!

I love afternoon tea.  There’s something about having a variety of finger sandwiches and delicate pastries and cookies with a steaming pot of tea that makes you feel fancy.  That said, I still don’t think theres’s a really solid option for British style afternoon tea in Bahrain, which is a bit of a waste considering the amount of British expats we have.  Yesterday, I was excited to try T Spoon in Kempinski Hotel.  The atmosphere is surprisingly serene and classy for a mall venue, and service was impeccable.  We were seated immediately, order for type of tea taken, and a little platter of mini cookies were sent out.  The cookies were forgettable, the tiny crispy ones you usually get as a side to a tea or coffee order.

The menu made the afternoon tea seem extensive, which was good because I was really hungry.  To be specific, this is what it read:  Lemon tartlet, raspberry mille feuille a la minute, Bakewell tart, chocolate éclairs, almond and pine seed croissants and delicious macaroons.  Savory items: sandwiches including foie gras on crispy bread with chutney, smoked salmon and black pepper on brown bread and French brie and truffle on toasted brioche and freshly baked plain and raisin scones with Devonshire clotted cream, wild strawberry jam and lemon curd.

(If only there were a few more sandwiches)

When our platter arrived, after a 15 minute wait, I was a little disappointed.  Even for an afternoon tea, portions seemed a little small.  The amount pictured is meant for two people.  The pot of tea (not pictured) was enough for two and a half cups.  The sandwiches pictured should have been offered as double portions, because we needed to cut each one in half in order to be able to both try them.

The food was mildly good, but extremely predictable.  You got the distinct feeling that you could easily make better sandwiches at home.  Scones were a little hard and sweet, on the plus side the clotted cream was actual clotted cream, not a whipping cream substitute that we so often get.  The dessert was equally average.  The bill ended up being 16BD which is along the lines of what I’m used to paying for afternoon tea, but I usually leave other  venues much more satisfied then I did yesterday.  Still looking for an afternoon tea experience in Bahrain that will leave a more lasting impression!

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