Tea rooms and patisseries have long-become a dining favourite in may parts of the world. It was only a matter of time before Bahrain got its very own elegant offering. Shabana Adam heads to The Orangery, to see if this traditional tea room and patisserie has something different to entice diners…
Tea rooms have been immensely popular since the 20th century, when they were seen as fashionable places for women to meet their friends in small towns, big cities and suburbs alike. Back then, tea rooms popularised eating outdoors under colourful umbrellas, had peculiar animal-themed names (Blue Horse, Red Squirrel, Brown Owl and so on), served up beverages and light snacks, and boasted a cool and calm atmosphere. Enter The Orangery.
Taking its name from the conservatories built in fashionable European residences, from the 17th to 19th centuries (historical reference gets a huge tick), this beautiful tea room and patisserie is tucked away on the grounds of the Palace Boutique Hotel. Walk around to the back of the building and your met with a façade that you could easily place in any European city. As far as first impressions go, this is quite special; you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a pretty English park on a summer’s day, as a landscaped garden, complete with gazebo-terraced dining area, a courtyard, water features, stone statues, and umbrella-sheltered tables, greet you on arrival.
Yes, this is really in Bahrain! Inside, the venue is, simply, magnificent. Borrowing décor and design elements of a traditional English tea room, there are oversized and super comfy arm chairs, mural style wall art, hanging frames, big plant pots, and a refreshingly airy feel with neutral colours and plenty of natural light beaming in through the windows. But, of course, we are in the Middle East, and that means there will be a twist! This comes in the form of an extensive a la carte menu, developed to perfectly balance the classic English concept with local Arabic flavours. For example, you can choose from artisan breads, delicious cakes, tarts, macaroons, and viennoiserie, all of which represent the sweet side of classic Europe, whilst Syrian chef Yousef, and his team, bring savoury options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, infused with delectable Syrian and Lebanese flavours.
If you want to satisfy your morning cravings, go for the aptly-named The Orangery Breakfast. It’s got croissants, danish, sweet roll, toast, eggs coked your way, cheese, fruit, homemade condiments, and hot or cold beverages of your choice. One of the FACT team’s absolute favourite dishes was the Syrian Frittata; possibly the best baked omelette we’ve ever tasted. It was packed with Middle Eastern herbs and spices and topped with labneh – SO SO tasty. If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth then tuck into the Traditional Afternoon Tea, complete with a selection of sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, cakes and pastries, and a pot of tea for two, all for a cool BD13.5!
The menu at The Orangery won’t disappoint; there are salads, sandwiches, sharing plates, healthy juices, and even a huge selection of world teas and other hot beverages. Who’d have thought this for Bahrain? None other than the team behind Masso, that’s who! The Orangery works because there’s really nothing like it on the island. It stays true to tea room origins with its interiors and menu, and just like a hundred years ago, this tea room will surely bring together friends, families and foodies alike.
GO: The Orangery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Call 1772 5000 for reservations and more information.