The Art Of Dining

Classic charm and impressive flavours were the theme of the day as Apple Sharma explored the venue and exquisite new menu at The Merchant House’s Indigo Terrace restaurant.

Tucked away in the heart of the city is Bahrain’s best kept secret, The Merchant House. This five-star luxury boutique hotel holds its own as one of the most elegant hospitality establishments in the capital, with art at the core of its tasteful interiors. It boasts a unique collection of contemporary art by local, regional and international artists, with stunning pieces on display throughout the property.

I love colour and the hotel’s vibrant atmosphere has plenty of it. The artistic streak that runs throughout, extends from the lobby all the way to the rooftop restaurant, Indigo Terrace, where my colleague and I escaped for a late lunch.

Stepping out of the lift, I noticed two large paintings on either side of the restaurant’s entrance, one an abstract and the other a modern interpretation of Frida Kahlo. The glass doors open into a cosy dining area, which extends out onto a terrace. During the day, sunlight floods in and brightens up the space and at dusk the venue exudes a warm ambience from the mood lighting.

The eatery had a welcoming feel, with square and round tables, each with a fresh oregano plant – a lovely touch. A colourful mix of pink and green floral and blue and white striped chairs imparted a charming appeal to the entire setting – it was like walking into a garden on a lovely spring afternoon. The colourful vibes continued outside on to the garden terrace, which had a tropical feel, surrounded by lush plants and flowers. Complementing the greenery were floral-patterned sofas with pink and green cushions and cane chairs for a relaxed feel. The interior space also housed a semi-circular wooden bar at the far end with an adjacent closed kitchen. Wooden chandeliers hung from the ceiling imparting a warm glow and the walls were adorned with more art creating a modern yet cosy ambience.

As we were taking in the surroundings and deciding where to sit, we were greeted by General Manager Riccardo Cocco, who suggested dining at a corner table with a full view of the gorgeous terrace. Chef Nirmal Pant prepared our dishes from the restaurant’s new menu and throughout our meal, Restaurant Supervisors, Igor Khrabrykh and Debaprakash Mishra, took excellent care of us explaining the dishes and serving us with a smile. The exciting new menu has something to please every palate, from continental dishes and Asian delights to burgers and sandwiches, as well as pasta and risotto. A Seasonal Vegetable Promotion has also been introduced, which changes periodically, and features dishes accompanied with seasonal veggies as the hero. During our visit, these were broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes.

We began our culinary journey with the Roasted Sweet & Sour Eggplant, a refreshing medley of sautéed onions and tomatoes delicately balanced with Greek yogurt. Its lightness and harmony of flavours set a delightful tone for the meal ahead.

Next, we indulged in the Seabass Spiced Tacos, a symphony of flavours and textures with zesty tomato salsa, creamy guacamole and sour cream complementing the succulent seabass – an ideal appetiser for fish lovers. The Beetroot and Buffalo Mozzarella was a standout dish. Beautifully presented, the earthy notes of roasted beets with beetroot coulis blended perfectly with the soft and creamy mozzarella, leaving us craving for more. And then there was the Crab Ceviche, almost too pretty to eat with its vibrant blend of dragon fruit, passion fruit and cherry tomatoes, all enhanced by a zesty yuzu sriracha dressing.

Moving on to the main courses, the Paper Baked Canadian Black Cod captivated us with its fragrant aroma and delicate taste. Paired with a flavourful cod jus and seasonal vegetables, it was a testament to the chef’s skill in bringing out the best in fresh, quality ingredients. Equally impressive was the Local Crispy Hamour with Broccoli Puree and Citrus Sauce, offering a wonderful combination of flavours and textures. Part of the Seasonal Vegetable Promotion, the perfectly cooked hamour, paired with a refreshing citrus sauce and complemented by broccoli florets and puree, was a true delight.

However, it was the Braised Lamb that stole the show with its tender meat that literally fell off the bone. Served with creamy spinach polenta, Kenyan beans and a drizzle of balsamic jus, it was a true indulgence for the senses.

As a vegetarian option, the Saffron Risotto was a dream. The fragrant saffron-infused rice had the perfect consistency, along with tender asparagus and parmesan shavings, it offered a comforting and satisfying dish. The Porcini Mushroom Tortelli Pasta was another highlight, with its rich, savoury filling encased in expertly cooked pasta and accompanied by a luscious Fontina fondue and a drizzle of white truffle oil.

Wrapping up our gastronomic adventure were the divine desserts. The Summer Panna Cotta, with its vanilla-infused yogurt and refreshing orange blossom granita, was a harmonious blend of creamy and citrusy flavours and absolutely sublime. And finally, the Apple Pie, served with saffron ice cream and shaped like a rose, was a work of art. Its light, flaky crust and delicious apple filling, paired with the unexpected twist of saffron ice cream, was the perfect end to our feast.

Our dining experience at The Merchant House’s Indigo Terrace was a delightful mix of art and gourmet food. With its enticing new menu, impeccable presentation and decadent flavours, it was the ideal setting for a charming day out. ✤