Winter is officially here and we’re making the most of the cooler temperatures with our Friday Brunch choices. With a beautiful garden vibe, the award-winning Indigo Rooftop Restaurant at The Merchant House, brings a casual yet refined sharing-style brunch to diners who want a more laid-back, intimate and, of course, delicious gastronomy experience. FACT went to try savour the food…

On a warm Friday afternoon, we took a seat at Indigo, the rooftop restaurant located at the luxury boutique hotel, The Merchant House. Situated in the heart of Manama, right next door to Bab al Bahrain, you would be hard-pressed to remember that you’re actually in the Gulf, let alone in the middle of a bustling market area. There is no noise; just the gentle breeze and the chatter of our fellow diners. Lovely!

Indigo Rooftop Restaurant offers a distinctive ambiance for a refreshingly different Friday Brunch, one where the partition doors are wide open and you can choose to either sit inside on plush cushioned seats or dine al fresco on its beautiful rooftop garden terrace. Indigo is what we imagine exists in faraway Mediterranean homes where orange trees grow and the prettiest flowers bloom. Inspired by the travel experiences of Executive Chef Robert Shipman, the incredible Friday Brunch menu pairs interesting flavours and ingredients that are authentic to both Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.

What strikes immediately about this place – aside from its chic floral décor and gorgeous artworks – is the high level of service. Staff are attentive without being intrusive, keeping our water topped up and recommending drinks (we’d urge you to order the very unique bubble gum mocktail), whilst informing us that the food is served sharing style, straight to the table, and if there’s a dish you really like, then you’re more than welcome to request it again. On top of that, any dietary requirements and allergies are enquired on from the serving staff and they will bring you alternative dishes to suit your needs.

Firstly, this brunch concept has us feeling all warm and content. The idea that there is no buffet set up to traipse around actually helps us to relax. We sink further into our cushioned seats when we cast eyes on the menu items – it’s extensive (and we love that). Made up of “Breakfast”, “Bits & Bites”, “Main” and “Sweet” – expect to try around 12 dishes, each packed with innovative flavours, ranging from the classics to the more fusion interpretations.

Our feast begins with a plate of Poached Egg with chopped avocado, smoked salmon and salsa verde; Grilled Halloumi topped with smoked chipotle jam and date syrup; and the fluffy Blueberry Pancake with vanilla cream and maple syrup. A strong start with the breakfast items, we were particularly impressed with the Poached Egg which had a firm white and a gooey-but-stillrunny yolk, and was complemented perfectly with the rest of the ingredients. Similarly, the pancakes also went down a treat and we rather enjoyed the sweet injection of taste at the beginning of the meal.

Next up was Bits & Bites – hands down our favourite selection. The Wafu Salad is crisp with a stunning sesame soy dressing – it’s the small things that count – whilst the Sea Bass Sashimi is the biggest, and most pleasant, surprise. Thin slices of the delicious fish are presented with black plum sauce, yuzu, basil, jalapeno and kizami wasabi. UNREAL. The taste is an explosion of the freshest flavours with the plum sauce adding a light sweetness and tartness, balanced by the richness of jalapeno and wasabi. The Salmon and Avocado Rolls are scooped up in haste as each taste like they were literally just made. Both the tender Beef Rib Ssamjang with pipirrana salad and the 18-hour Lamb Shank Tartine with yuzu kosho salsa are every meat-lovers’ fantasy. Though served in small bites, you’ll taste enough to know that the cooking methods in the kitchen and the quality of the meat are top-notch.

For mains, three dishes make their way to the table. Our favourite had to be the Seared Scallops and Prawns with Sicilian pesto, potato dauphinoise and roasted cherry tomatoes. A hearty plate, it’s the perfect winter warmer recipe that seafood lovers will appreciate. The scallops and buttery and delicate, just the way we like them! The Risotto Funghi is another knockout – packed with porcini mushroom risotto, Parmiggiano Reggiano and truffle oil – it’s everything you want from a risotto and more. It’s rich and creamy, and comes with zero warning about how quickly you’re going to eat it. By the time the Roast chicken Breast with sweet potatoes and green peppercorn jus comes out, we’re half way to a food coma – but as they say, there’s a different stomach for dessert.

The Chocolate Fondant steals the show with its hot, melted centre paired with strawberry ice cream, alongside the Lime Panna Cotta with fresh mango sauce – think two very different, but equally pleasing desserts. Indigo sure does satisfy every palate.

At just BD28 with soft drinks and BD38 with premium drinks, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth here. Children aged five to 10 get 50% off and children aged four and below dine for free, so there’s another reason why this could be a great family Friday afternoon. For the chilled-out vibes, excellent food and friendly service, we’ll be back sooner rather than later.✤