An Arabian Indulgence

An exceptional celebration of Arab cuisine was thoroughly enjoyed by Lawson Misquitta at La Med’s Amber Night.

Stepping into The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain’s main lobby, it’s not hard to get swept up in the grandness of the space, there’s a reason this establishment has been a longstanding icon for luxury and hospitality in the Kingdom, and it certainly shows. However, this particular evening my reason for visiting was a bit more deliberate. A few days prior my colleagues and I were made privy to the latest culinary spectacle taking place at one of the hotel’s many stunning dining destinations and, being ever enthusiastic and curious about new happenings, we had to come see for ourselves.

Inspired by the captivating aromas and flavours of the Arabian Peninsula, La Med is hosting an enticing culinary extravaganza called Amber Night that takes place every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

On entering La Med, my colleague and I we were warmly received by the front-of-house staff and directed to our table. Calming shades of white and blue, reminiscent of the turquoise waters of the Gulf not too far away, gracefully coloured the interiors of the restaurant in a classy, yet cosy manner.

Once settled, we wasted no more time and made our way to the amazing buffet. I kicked off my gastronomic journey with some fresh and lemony tabbouleh alongside some hummus and moutable from the vibrant spread of salads and mezze. I then tried the lamb kibbeh, spinach fatayer and vegetable samosa accompanied with a dollop of piquant muhammara – a fantastic preparation of roasted red peppers, walnuts, breadcrumbs, chilli flakes and pomegranate molasses – that proved to be the ideal dip.

While returning to our table I bumped into the person responsible for this delectable spread, Chef de Cuisine Hanan Osman. Very gracious and extremely passionate about the food prepared for the evening, she courteously guided me through the incredible banquet herself and delightfully made recommendations for dishes I had to try without fail.

For the next round, we stepped out into La Med’s wonderful outdoor dining area that overlooks the hotel’s sprawling pool and is also where the live cooking stations are situated. A bustling hub of activity where local favourites were prepared and served fresh off the charcoal-grill right before our eyes. We gladly took our time savouring from the wide selection of sizzling tikkas, kebabs and succulent lamb chops which were aptly marinated in Bahraini spices and grilled to lip-smacking perfection. My colleague and I couldn’t help but make repeated trips for some more of the delicious beef tikka! From this section I also thoroughly enjoyed the lamb arayes and the succulent chicken shawarma which was wrapped in freshly baked saj bread.

As we savoured the grills back at our table, the attentive staff regularly checked in for our drinks preferences (here too there were plenty of options to choose from). Also, I must mention the DJ who enlivened the mood through the night as he seamlessly played a great mix of diverse music styles and genres.

Returning to indulge in yet more sumptuous preparations, I visited the chilled seafood bar which was amply stocked with shrimp, lobster tail, mussels, fresh oysters and crabs. I then moved on to the meat carving section and tried a slice of the marinated slow-cooked beef which was exceptionally tender and paired perfectly with the smooth, buttery and very flavourful saffron mashed potatoes. I also helped myself to a serving of expertly grilled hammour which I doused in some luscious lemon butter sauce that helped truly elevate each moist and flaky bite.

For my main course, I savoured each spoonful of the intensely fragrant traditional Gulf Ouzi that was patiently cooked overnight to an impeccable melt-in-your-mouth perfection. But things got even better when Chef Hanan, who is Egyptian, insisted we try her speciality the koshary. Prepared with finesse and flair, this spicy and savoury dish excellently combined lentils, rice and pasta into the most satisfying morsel. Lastly, for my final main I tried some of the chicken kofta with Iranian rice, which was another standout, thanks to the symphony of flavours it presented to my palate.

Finally, no Arabian feast would be complete without a decadent array of desserts, and La Med did not disappoint. I tried the lugaimat – tiny orbs of dough that were fried to golden brown perfection in front of us and drizzled with sweet date syrup and sesame seeds. There were many other regional favourites such as Umm Ali, halawet el Jibn, qatayef with cheese, pistachio mufrukha and different styles of kunafa of which I tried a few. Additionally, there were also plenty of cakes, cheesecakes and more in the strawberry, mango and chocolate varieties. But a personal favourite of the night was the saffron milk cake – light, airy with a heady flavour of saffron, every spoonful was pure bliss!

La Med’s Amber Night is a meticulous combination of classy ambience, outstanding service and exceptional food that successfully celebrates the best and most unique aspects of this region’s cuisine, making it certainly worth the visit! ✤