After a morning in the spa, what could be a better ending to all that pampering than an al fresco lunch at The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain’s Thai Lounge where great weather and great food are the order of the day?
Arriving at the venue we’re greeted by smiling staff and a gentle breeze coming off the sparkling sea, which the lounge overlooks. We seek out a table in the sunshine and close to the grill, from which delicious aromas are wafting.
Almost immediately we are served with Phra Ya Nang, a delightful, sweet and refreshing mocktail that combines blackberries, lemon juice, rosebud syrup, honey, and passion fruit and comes with a paper straw – eco brownie points.
Chef Rerkden Paensurin has decided to showcase his talents with a selection of his favourite dishes and we’re all too happy to start with the seafood salad. There is hammour, cooked to a perfect firmness, big juicy prawns, mussels and more with a generous helping of greens, shredded carrots and tiny, hot red chillis. The dressing of sugar, lime, chilli and fish sauce is both spicy and sweet and serves well to lift a good dish to the level of memorable. Next up is Chicken Tom Ka, a favourite Thai staple done very, very well.
Chunks of white meat float in the unmistakable broth of creamy coconut milk infused with ginger, galangal and lemongrass with a generous portion of mixed mushrooms and kefir lime leaves. The flesh is tender and the perfect combination of flavours is both sweet and salty – just as it should be.
A surprise awaits as chef arrives with fried rice, served in a hollowedout pineapple. A feast for the eyes and a really fun IG pic, if you’re that way inclined. Loaded with baby corn, spring onions, red peppers, and small, sweet tomatoes, the addition of the onions adds an extra layer of flavour. A topping of cranberries and flaked crab meat is, literally, the cherry on the cake taking an already flavourful combination to the next step.
And alongside the rice comes what, for us, is the real star of the day – Lobster Pad Thai, with a difference. Rather than scrambled eggs, the noodles are encased in a wafer-thin egg dome, the lobster, its shell laden with chunks of battered meat, sitting proudly atop with crunchy chopped peanuts to the side. This dish is a meal in itself with plenty of crispy vegetables, including spring onions and red and yellow peppers, tucked throughout the noodles and the lobster cooked to perfection – tender white meat, almost crumbling on the tongue. We could say “more please” but the portion was definitely big enough for two and would make a satisfying sharing lunch even with no accompaniments.
Lastly, among the savouries, we can’t resist the tempting aromas rising from the grill and choose to sample the lamb chops. They come with a generous serving of vegetables which we, by this stage, have no space for but admire, nonetheless. Tender and juicy, the chops do not disappoint with a lightly herbed crusting giving way to a succulent middle that melts in the mouth. Dessert is the famous Thai dish of sticky rice with mango and coconut ice cream. What can we say? If you want to finish your meal with a smile, this is it. The rice is so gooey, we initially have trouble splitting it between us, but the almost toffee-like taste and consistency is worth this little bit of ‘hard labour’.
Our verdict, al fresco dining as you imagine it from all those holiday brochures we’re not using at the moment. Sun, sea breezes, great food and a special nod to the DJ for a super-chilled set that features one of my all-time faves.