FUSIONS by Tala are self-proclaimed ‘enemies of the conventional, the foes of mediocrity, those that create upon the plate’ and we couldn’t agree more.
The Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention and Spa is one of the most fascinating resorts I have had the pleasure of visiting as it is a spectacular series of structures and levels which house an array of microcosms showcase the very best in cuisine and entertainment from Asia, the Middle East and beyond. Vast lobbies and lounges adorned with sculpted marble and glistening chandeliers lead on to host some of the 10 restaurants that The Gulf Hotel proudly boasts.
The most exciting gastronomic addition as of late is undoubtedly Fusions by Tala. Vivacious Bahraini Head Chef Tala Bashmi is at the helm of this culinary venture and is proving herself as the catalyst behind the international fine dining aspect of modern Middle Eastern cuisine. Tala is a passionate woman who is evidently very disciplined in her art which is no surprise as she trained at the Culinary Arts Academy, Cesar Ritz in Lucerne, Switzerland and showcases said expertise in abundance at Fusions by Tala.
The décor is earthy and stripped back-to-basics in the most sophisticated and modish way. Table tops are crafted from slices of wood with sleek glassware and cutlery adorning them. Distressed plasterwork and industrial light fittings illustrate perfectly the theme of fusing contrasting elements just as the menu here does. The restaurant offers views across the Bahraini skyline, both inside and at their seasonal terrace. Whichever backdrop you decide on it will prove the perfect setting for intimate dining, business gatherings or indeed, any catchup with friends and family.
Chef Tala runs an open kitchen which adds an additional layer of difficulty to any busy service. Organisation and seamless teamwork of the five positioned here are essential to create a professional fluidity as dishes are constructed as diners look on, and Chef Tala executes this vision seamlessly. The philosophy is creating an immersive atmosphere so that guests are included in the composure of each dish before devouring it. This method is reflective of the honesty component that flows throughout everything here at Fusions by Tala.
A dedication to sourcing local products from the various produce markets across Bahrain and a mix of modern and traditional techniques such as a charcoal grill which finishes off dishes perfectly as they are taken from the sous-vide. Contemporary techniques prepare meat and fish exquisitely alongside traditional methods that exude that authentic bite and taste, especially that of the charcoal grill that can also utilise wood dependent on the desired cooking fusion.
As we were shown to our table we were presented with a hot towel infused with lemon grass enhancing the experience from the first moment. Simple touches of finesse such as this throughout the meal left us feeling spoiled and content. This concept is further reflected in their Liquid Courage menu with the artisanal approach to the muddled drinks and mocktails. Signature crafts are housed in an array of mixology based talisman, such as a bird and an apple further amplifying the immersive atmosphere. We decided on Chef ’s Surprise Five Course Tasting Menu which includes rare ingredients and hidden surprises. Let’s begin with their bread selection – that included some gluten free rice bread – that paved the way for our tasting extravaganza. The Bahraini bread with fennel seeds was the perfect vessel with which to load the Date Molasses butter with its sweet and salty notes. Presentation is carefully thought out and not at all expected. The butter was presented in a dish which looked like a highly polished coconut shell further highlighting the natural undertone of everything here at Fusions by Tala.
“The philosophy is creating an immersive atmosphere so that guests are included in the composure of each dish before devouring it.”
The presentation of each dish exudes raw, natural tones and aspects whilst reflecting the artistry and heritage of Bahraini culture throughout the fresh ingredients. The vibe here is unpretentious and the key component is to enjoy food to its very core. The most luxuriant and flavoursome chicken liver pate was served with dates and caviar which proved the perfect accompaniment to its delicious chicken skin. Next up, we were served an off-the-menu delicacy of Sous-vide egg which was adorned with squid ink crumble, Japanese mushrooms (two types – shimeji white and brown) and truffle foam. It looked so intrinsically beautiful that we had to admire it for a minute or two before devouring it.
Despite the fact that we did not want this to come to an end the introduction of a palate cleanser before the main course was inspired. Pomegranate and mint sorbet prepared us for our next tantalising treat. As described on their food menu, The Main Event comprises a selection of Sea, Land and Earth elements, or rather dishes for you to select. As we had chosen the Tasting Menu we left it up to Chef Tala’s creativity. We were not disappointed.
As the Tikka was served, the aroma of tender meat filled the air. The seared cuts of beef tenderloin were complemented perfectly with the different composition of foie gras, khubiz, black lime and also edible activated charcoal. My dining partner and I continued to converse in ramblings of ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhs’ with every moreish bite. This was certainly my dining highlight and I advise you all to try this delectable icon. All good things must come to an end and that it did with their Sweet Finale. There was certainly no protruding bottom lips when the Baklawa arrived! As it plumed its filo encasement garnished with edible gold, the saffron ice cream, mango and orange blossom intertwined in its sweet culinary melody. An exemplary dining experience with multi-faceted beauty will have us returning time and time again. Unpretentious, unparalleled and unique.