A beachy treat

As someone who loves the sea, I am pretty disappointed by the beach situation here in Bahrain. The public beaches are OK for a bit of off-road driving and a sunset walk, but that’s about it; they are often covered in litter too. People assume that we have access to nice beaches here, considering we live on an island in the Arabian Gulf – but no!

Discovering Al Marassi Beach out in Diyar Al Muharraq was nice – for a small fee you can access a pretty clean beach and use their pretty clean sunbeds, but I have recently come across something a little bit special…

The 5-star luxury Ritz Carlton in Seef offers Royal Beach Club day passes for 25 dinars per person during the week (this jumps up to 50 dinars Thurs – Sat). This means you have to fit it into a week day to get good value – for teachers like me, the school holidays are the perfect opportunity. This is a beachy treat option rather than a place to go each weekend. At certain times of the year, that price also includes a buffet lunch, which means that this becomes pretty good value for money.

The club facilities are very luxurious and it definitely feels worth the price; the pass gives you access to the indoor and outdoor pools as well as the beach. I love the king-size sunbeds with canopy covers that hover over the infinity pool, overlooking the beach – super luxurious! They don’t make the day pass option particularly obvious on their website, but when you dig around a little, it’s there. You can call to reserve a day pass or you can just turn up.

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Saffron by Jena – Muharraq

Saffron by Jena is a hidden gem close to Muharraq souk that I would never have found without being taken there by a friend. It doesn’t look like much from the street, but I was pleasantly surprised by the contemporary edge of the decor and the partial glass floor revealing a traditional date press below. It doesn’t have a menu but instead offers a daily special or a traditional Bahraini breakfast – many people say this is the best traditional breakfast in Bahrain and it has been named best Bahraini restaurant more than once. We only stopped for a quick break from the heat and a refreshing lemon and mint drink, so I’m looking forward to visiting again to taste the food.

Update – I have since been back to Saffron for the Bahraini breakfast. There was enough food for two people and it lived up to its reputation, yum! They have also now introduced a menu, giving you a few more options.

Madeleine – French-influenced cuisine

I’ve been admiring Madeleine (a French-influenced patisserie/boulangerie/restaurant in Adliya) from a distance for a while and today I decided to step inside. I was directed upstairs for lunch and chose a seat by the window – perfect for watching people wander the streets of Adliya below. If you want to go for coffee and cake, you can choose to sit downstairs instead. The decor is lovely – floral and light – just the way I like it. It’s a little more expensive than some of the other cafes I’ve posted about, but not by much. I had the creamy pesto pasta and a cappuccino – both were really tasty. I wasn’t hungry enough for anything sweet today, so I’ll just have to go back soon for more!

Hopscotch Rustic Kitchen

I’m sitting in Hopscotch Rustic Kitchen as I write this – I think I’ve just found my favourite place in Bahrain to come and work/read/write/chill when craving a change of scene. I didn’t come here to write about it, but as soon as I walked in, I felt that I just had to!

I love the polished concrete floor, white-washed exposed-brick walls and up-cycled pipe-work table legs. I’m a sucker for rustic, stylish decor in cafes and this place ticks all my boxes. From the outside, it’s quite easy to miss – but stick with it until you find your way in. I’m sitting inside as it’s so hot outside today, but there are tables, chairs and umbrellas ready for cooler days.

It helps that the food is great too – I’ve just enjoyed a deliciously fresh bowl of basil pesto pasta, washed down with a ‘Garden Party’ juice (kale, apple, spinach and pomegranate). A coffee was in order next, which is handy because the kitchen has its own specialty coffee shop called Grind, where the beans are roasted on site. I can honestly say this is the best coffee I have tasted in Bahrain so far.

Can you tell I love this place? Don’t take my word for it – next time you’re near Saar (or even if you’re not) I encourage you to pop by and check it out yourself.

 

 

Roots – for quality coffee

If you’re passing through Hamala and craving a coffee, I recommend popping into Roots – a grab-and-go cafe run by husband and wife team Hussain and Dana. I enjoyed chatting to Hussain about the sourcing and roasting of their coffee – at the time of my visit they were using beans from Colombia and a local Bahraini roaster, though this changes depending on the market and time of year.

What makes this cafe stand out (aside from the great coffee) is that they believe in supporting other small businesses, especially those supporting healthy living. Some of the local talent and Bahraini businesses they have featured on their shelves include @cookinwithmarmo@littlewhitekettle,  @perfectlypressedbh and @arawbiangourmet. I opted for their home-made Coconut Tapioca Pudding (coconut, rice milk, coconut milk, tapioca pearls, maple syrup, vanilla and goji berries) and a perfectly smooth cappuccino.

Plant Cafe – Hamala Hills vegan treats

After my visit to Mama Eat and Glow earlier this week, I felt inspired to continue researching (and sampling) the healthy eating/vegetarian/vegan movement that seems to be gaining momentum here in Bahrain. I was recommended a visit to Plant Cafe by Hussain, owner of Roots – a cafe based a little further up the road – during our conversation about healthy eating. You can read more about Hussain’s cafe soon.

Plant Cafe only makes minimally processed, plant-based treats and dishes.

Disclosure – I am not a vegan and I am certainly not particularly disciplined when it comes to healthy eating; I do however appreciate the benefits of vegan a diet and I enjoy dipping a toe in every now and again, especially when it is up to someone else to cook for me.

Admittedly, I ducked into Plant Cafe minutes before closing, so only had time for a dairy-free raspberry smoothie – which was delicious – and to peruse the menu. I promised the chef I would be back soon to sample the menu in a little more depth. Before leaving, I chatted to him about healthy eating cafes and restaurants in Bahrain – Is it popular with locals? Is this a new trend? He explained that he has noticed an increasing number of people embracing vegetarian and vegan restaurants, though sometimes the price of the restaurants puts them off. It was lovely to talk to someone who is passionate about their trade; I’m looking forward to going back soon so I can tell you more. Meanwhile, here are some snapshots of the decor to give you a feel for the place.

 

Mama Eat and Glow – healthy eating

I visited Mama – Eat and Glow at The Lagoon, Amwaj, for the first time today and I loved it. Before I say more, it’s worth reading up on the story behind it too – the business was started by a Kuwaiti mum who now lives in Bahrain with her small family. She started sharing her own healthy eating recipes on social media, before joining forces with a pop-up farmers’ market in Kuwait and then continuing to expand her business. The fact that this is an independent business makes the food taste even better.

The restaurant specialises in healthy recipes using organic (when available), natural and nutritious ingredients. There are quite a few vegetarian and vegan options as well as some dairy free and gluten free options on the menu. Although I arrived after 12pm, I was given the option of trying their breakfast menu – this made me very happy as I’m a fan of an all day breakfast! I opted for the Scrambled Eggs on Sourdough with a Green Fuel pressed juice. The salad, sourdough and eggs were all delicious, as was the juice. I was keen to try more, so breakfast was followed by some coffee cake and a cappuccino – both also really tasty (and not badly priced at 7.5BHD for everything). I was surprised how light and healthy I felt after eating a relatively big meal.

In addition to serving delicious, guilt-free food, the cafe is beautifully decorated with a calm, stylish feel. I loved the decor. The staff were very friendly too and were happy to let me take plenty of pictures. As you can see, it’s a pretty small space – I’m not sure how busy it gets at the weekends, but during the week it was very easy to get a table.

The cafe is on the first floor of The Lagoon above car parks 1 & 2. Google maps likes to take you to the wrong side of the Lagoon for some reason, so ignore it once you get close.