Melissa Nazareth spent a Sunday afternoon exploring the revamped menu at Furn Bistro & Bakery which features their Eat Well section and popular Middle Eastern staples with a twist.

The first day of the week is always difficult but having your workplace just two blocks from The Westin City Centre Bahrain has its benefits. My companions and I had lunch at Furn Bistro & Bakery, which is an all-day dining outlet with two menus – bakery and bistro.

The main area or bistro, where we sat, has a well-lit interior, influenced by clean lines and geometric shapes. There’s a private dining space too. You could also sit in the adjoining section or the outermost Rotunda.

The food arrived soon after we settled in. We started off with the best selection of appetisers I’ve ever eaten. Each dish had a distinct taste and some even had a surprising twist. Accompanying the good ol’ hummus was the Aromatic Saffron Labneh, which was tarte, creamy and fragrant from the saffron. Now, I’m not a fan of liver but I surprised myself as I went in for a second helping of the chicken liver. Laced with caramelised onions, it was perfectly seared on the edges, which offset the soft texture; it’s fried that way to stop the blood and juices from flowing out, thus locking in the flavour. It was doused in a fruity sauce of pomegranate molasses, which lent the dish a certain depth. The Falafel Pastirma deserves a special mention. In addition to boasting a super crunchy crust and perfectly grainy texture, this traditionally vegetarian snack featured chopped up pieces of pastirma or cured beef, which worked wonders for the flavour. What stood out for me was the Spicy Makanik, a spiced, ground lamb sausage cooked with sweet peppers in a tangy tomato-based gravy. Garnished with crispy fried strips of flat bread and toasted pine nuts, it was a delightful dish.

We also tried items from the Eat Well Menu – a concept across Westin hotels worldwide. It features balanced meals, localised for each property. In Bahrain, you can choose from an eclectic mix of refreshing salads and mains that can be ordered as half or full portions, depending on how hungry you are. First, came the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. Colourful cuboids of squash and beetroot, tossed with cherry tomato halves in a medley of greens such as rocket and mint. The quinoa had a bite to it as did the crispy fried garlic slices, which also conjured up a smokey aroma. The citrusy dressing was light, not overpowering the veggies. The Nicosia Salad was a simple symphony of creamy mozzarella pearls and cherry tomato halves, tossed in a pesto and balsamic dressing, rendered fragrant by basil leaves and buttery pine nuts. Having whetted our appetites, it was time for the main course. We tried Furn Signature dishes including lamb shank. Slow cooked and served with a freekeh ragout, it made quite the impression. Freekeh is a popular Middle Eastern cereal made from green durum wheat. The lamb was tender and juicy, and melted in our mouths. Further, it coated the freekeh with its robust juices and flavours. I will return for this dish.

A close contender was the Furn Sayadiyah; oven baked seabass in harra sauce served with sayadiyah rice. The fish was moist, flaky and fresh, offering an appetising contrast to its crispy skin. It was immensely flavourful by itself. However, the harra sauce, sweet, zingy and herby, offered dimension. As I ate the rice, which is served separately, I discovered it was mild and perfectly cooked. The fried onion straws on top were crunchy and smoky, and complemented the warm spices.

We were also served the vine leaves, which come with stuffed baby marrow, eggplant and bell peppers, offering variety. The Pesto Flatbread was akin to a thin crust pizza with scrumptious toppings such as parmesan shavings and pungent arugula.

Our luncheon ended with Furn’s bestselling kunafa. Served with ice-cream, this dessert is a must-try. Instead of having it with coffee, ask for a side of coffee ice cream, which is how we had it – heavenly! Gooey cheese concealed under a crispy, crunchy crust combined with a contrast of temperatures – hot kunafa and cold ice cream – tantalised and teased our taste buds. The Sweet Manakish, a pastry topped with halva or sesame paste, qashta or clotted cream, honey and nuts was equally magical – if it weren’t for the kunafa, this would have been my top favourite. Manakish, we learned, is usually savoury, so this sweet spin is yet another of Furn’s creative twists. We were also served a portion of Tiramisu, which is an option for those who like coffee-based desserts.

Offering a wide range of new dishes and re-thought old favourites, Furn Bistro & Bakery is a place you must visit soon. I know I will be making a pitstop here on my next retail therapy session at City Centre Bahrain. ✤