Bar Bites Extraordinaire - Xenia Bar, Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain

by BTM

Sat, 07 December 2019

Liz O’Reilly checked out the new flavours at one of the Kingdom’s favourite hotels.

It’s no secret that the Mövenpick Hotel has recently had a major facelift of pretty much everything from the guest rooms to the dining outlets. So, I was very happy to go along for a look and to check out the menu at the new Xenia Bar, which used to be Flamingo Lounge.

Firstly, let me say, it’s unrecognisable. The bar has moved, the décor has gone from lounge-style to very much an intimate bar atmosphere and there’s music every night with both DJ and house band, who take the show out onto the, also upgraded, terrace on Wednesdays.

The menu too has undergone a drastic overhaul with every option new from the kitchen. And there’s a great range of cocktails and mocktails as well as some very impressive special beverage options.

I started off with a selection of appetisers. First to the table was the extensive Antipasti Board which featured finely-sliced prosciutto, wood smoked Black Forest ham and chorizo, the deliciously smoky and spicy sausage perfectly complementing its milder counterparts.

movenpick hotel bahrainNext up came a trio of mini burgers featuring patties made from Prime Angus Beef, barbecue chicken and succulent prawns. I must admit, I was not overly keen on the idea of a prawn burger but, in truth, this was a pleasant surprise – the seafood was minced with herby seasoning to really bring out the flavour and, of the three, this was definitely my favourite; though I had several bites of the equally tasty others, just to be sure. 

Crispy coated salted calamari with fresh lemon and a lemon herb mayonnaise – what can I say? If you like squid, and I do, this is probably some of the best on the island. Salty and lemon sparky, tender, flavourful flesh, with not a hint of over cooking or rubberiness, nestling in a crunchy outer shell. I would go back for this alone and, had I not been saving space for the main course, I could have eaten an indecent amount – reason enough for a return visit, I reckon.

For my main course, though hardly distinguishable since the starter portions are so generous, I went for corn-fed chicken from the grill with mushroom sauce and steak fries. Unlike regular mushroom sauce, this had a strong hint of piquant roasted garlic, elevating it several valuable notches. This is pub grub…but not as we know it.

It takes some skill to cook a chunky chicken breast well, getting the outside skin crisp without allowing the flesh beneath to become hard and the centre tough. The chef achieved all three – crispy skin, tender flesh and a centre as melting and juicy as you could wish for. All-in-all a bit of a triumph.

Throughout my meal I munched on a crunchy Caesar Salad with greens fresh enough to give that almost just-picked smell and taste. Unfortunately, I had to forego dessert as there was simply not enough space.

Instead I took a quick tour of Silk’s restaurant. The changes here are really quite special. Pale hues with gold accents give a real feeling of luxury while the glassed-in terrace, which overlooks the garden with views out to the water, is Mediterranean in feel and is sure to prove a favourite, particularly during the cooler weather.