Narise Kamber reviews…
A few nights ago, my husband and I went to Alfayez Restaurant in the Reef Island area, one of the latest additions in the Bahrain restaurant scene serving Lebanese food.
The first thing that grabbed my attention as I walked towards the restaurant was the lovely terrace area overlooking the sea and King Faisal highway, yet as much as we wanted to sit outside, the heat and humidity in June in Bahrain overruled our decision. So we were warmly welcomed inside the restaurant and shown to our table.
The interior of Alfayez is eclectic with a combination of different styles and pieces that beautifully work together. Dark chocolate floors, a few classical engraved stone wall pieces, silver candle holders, a white porcelain horse head piece and a grand black crystal chandelier.
The contemporary indoor and outdoor seating is both very chic as well as very comfortable. And as I am a big fan of classical 1950’s Arabic music, I enjoyed listening to the live songs played by the oud player in the restaurant. The volume of music in restaurants is one of my pet peeves, but in Alfayez the volume of the music was just right, so I was very happy to be able to converse with my husband whilst listening to my favorite pieces.
Now lets move to the most important part and that is the food! Usually in Lebanese restaurants my husband and I (and the reason I mention him a lot is because he is my favorite dining partner so you will hear of him a lot in my reviews) only order a few starters and we pick the exact same dishes every time in any Lebanese restaurant.
Our usual picks are, kibbeh niya (lebanese beef tartare), batata harra (spicy potatoes), and homous billahma (hummus topped with meat). We got our usual Lebanese order and each dish was done to excellence. Especially the kibbeh niya, it’s a dish that must be delicately prepared and handled and it’s not commonly found in other Lebanese restaurants but in Alfayez it was available and fabulous. The other dishes also were spot on. The batata harra also was cooked the way I like it. Potatoes were soft yet slightly crisp, the tanginess of the lemon sauce the heat from the cayenne and the garlic kick at the end was perfect. The homous billahma was another hit, fried meat cubes with butter and pine nuts on top of a creamy tahini paste.
The restaurant staff were extremely generous and hospitable with us and served us more items to taste.
We had the taboula (chopped parsley with cracked wheat and tomatoes and onion doused with olive oil and lemon), and we had vine leaves stuffed with rice that were soft and lemony. We had the maanek which are small sausages cooked in a tomato, onion and capsicum sauce.
I was very impressed with the fatet hummus; pita bread cut up and immersed in a mixture of warm yogurt, garlic, olive oil, chickpeas and pine nuts. This dish on its own is comfort food heaven. I also feel this dish is excellent for the iftar meal in Ramadan.
We also had a selection of hot appetizers which were, fried meat kibbeh (fried minced meat and onion stuffed in a meat and cracked wheat shell casing), cheese spring rolls, spinach fatayer (stuffed triangular dough with sautéed spinach, sumac and onion) and lebanese meat sambosik. The hot appetizer platter was good overall.
Did I mention how much I loved the bread, yes it seems sinful these days to profess one’s love for bread but this bread deserves the loud mention. Circular puffed dough gifts dotted with black sesame seeds, hot and fresh right out of the oven. Normally we don’t order the main dish in a Lebanese restaurant because by the time we are done with the starters, we are stuffed. This time we got the mixed grill platter; lamb chops, grilled beef cubes, lamb kabab, shish tawouq (grilled chicken cubes ) and chicken kabab. The mixed grill platter is topped with spicy pita bread triangles, garnished with white onion slices, chopped coriander and accompanied by white garlic paste. Simply delicious.
My two best picks from my meal at Alfayez were the muhamara and the fish kabab. Muhamara is a cold appetizer dip made from roasted red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses, bread crumbs, olive oil, garlic, lemon and some spices like cumin and sumac. I loved the combination of the sweetness of the molasses with the heady roasted flavor of the red pepper and the strong flavor of the walnuts. A harmonious orchestra of tastes. It paired beautifully with my second favorite dish from the meal, the fish kababs; ground fish meat mixed with garlic, spices, shaped into an elongated kabab form and grilled perfectly. It had the right fish taste without it being too fishy.
The finale of the meal was the dreamy halawet el jeben, an old traditional Lebanese dessert. It is made out of cheese, semolina, sugar, rose and orange blossom water. And to end it all, Lebanese coffees.
Alfayez is the perfect place for dinner with friends, out of town guests, date night with your spouse or a Friday family lunch or if you are simply craving good Lebanese food. In other words it’s your guaranteed reliable pick for a great meal with a relaxed ambiance.
Alfayez Restaurant Reef Island, Emerald building Block 346, Manama, Bahrain
+973 1332 0612
Open daily from 12 pm – 12 am
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