by Kanwal Anes Ahmed
Those who have not been to Bahrain often make the mistake of comparing it to the more “happening” city in the region – Dubai. But to put the serene culture of this Arab island in the same hustling shoes as the other apparently enthralling cities is a sin of the highest degree. For, even the shortest of trips to Bahrain opens one’s eyes to a world that serves as the classic example of the word: diversity. And within the diverse, entwining the many “categories” of individuals who constitute the population of Bahrain, lies its contemporary civilization – one that is categorized by deep urbanity and profound sophistication.
Like any other, such a culture sprouts to life in places where it is allowed to thrive the most and in this petite kingdom the eateries are where it dominates most. Being an aspiring connoisseur, much of the short time I’ve already spent in Bahrain has been spent in the exploration of the various restaurants that embellish the town, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the diversity of cuisines – most of which live up to the original, ethnic taste and are tastefully dished out. However, the place that really stood out, not only for its sensational menu, but for artfully depicting the avant-garde life of Bahrain, was Coco’s Restaurant.
Situated in Adliya, Coco’s is built within the bounds of an old renovated house and sports an ethnic Parisian interior complimented by a breezy outdoor seating arrangement beneath parasols and sun chairs decked out on pebbled flooring. Dimly lit, most of the glow seems to emerge from the glitzy crowd that throngs to this restaurant and one can almost breathe in the posh ambiance. The wait for a table can last up to a couple of hours and that being despite the fact that the entrance does not even boast a sign-board. Nor does it take pre-scheduled reservations. To be eating at Coco’s one has to be prepared — with a good GPS, patience and a taste for extraordinary food.
Once I was seated at my table, I started with the mushroom and chicken soup and chicken avocado salad. While the soup was creamy and blended perfectly, to warm the otherwise light chill in the night air, the chicken avocado salad proved to be one of the best things on Coco’s menu, served with a tangy dressing that happens to be Coco’s signature item and makes every other salad I have tried seem quite ordinary. The sugar-free iced tea I was served was the perfect treatment for my taste-buds at this point as it provided the calm after the delicious storm.
The next item on my list was the Samoa, which was filets of hammour seasoned with lemon and mild spice, served on top of creamy rice, topped with tingling herbs and wrapped in a bamboo leaf. This delicacy was light on the stomach yet did justice to the appetite and proved to be a hit with my taste-buds. I chose to sweeten up the meal towards the end, by ordering a slice of date and caramel cake, which was served warm with scoop of vanilla ice cream. This combination in a cake is popular across the island, but the layers of pureed dates, caramel and nuts I experienced at Coco’s definitely topped all others.
And the dessert was not the only remarkable thing about the end of this experience at Coco’s. Unlike other places, where one often feels too full to move at the end of the meal, here I was already looking forward to the next time I would be in the vicinity and able to indulge again. Moreover, the constant influx of guests was enough to make those of us craving some sort of vivacity, in this otherwise serene city, feel satisfied. In a nutshell, my brief rendezvous with this restaurant was definitely one that has immense potential of becoming a regular feat. In fact, my mind is already wandering off to plan another trip to Coco’s as I struggle to sum up my experience!