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Bahrain’s ‘restaurant road’


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Viability's Guy Wilkinson writes a monthly column for Hotelier Middle East Magazine. This article originally appeared in April 2010.
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Bahrain’s ‘restaurant road’

  1. 1. 16COMMENT Bahrain’s ‘restaurant road’ Viability director Guy Wilkinson explains why Block 338, or ‘Restaurant Road’, in Manama is a one-off dining destination in the GCC that would turn Dubai’s restaurateurs green with envy itself, special, is that it has not been built with the Disneyland approach where you build something from scratch with everything new.” In what is surely a gentle dig at Dubai, Sheikh Hamad is stressing that in order to reflect the true Bah- raini identity, there is no need to build fake wind towers to offset the dominance of international brands like Planet Hollywood. Just take a nice old neighbourhood and enhance it with the islanders’ creativity and a COLUMNIST bit of help from the government. The latter comes not only in the lock 338 in Adliya, Ma- form of urban landscaping, but also B nama, also known as ‘Res- taurant Road’, is the only place in the Gulf where a ‘destination’ for high quality li- censed restaurants has grown up in the liberal licensing laws that have allowed Adliya’s quiet resi- dential streets to be filled with ‘res- to-bars.’ It is quite literally the only place in the Gulf where there is such naturally, independently from any a permissive ambience. luxury hotels. The 338 is in some sense the gov- Now the district is the subject of ernment’s model neighbourhood as an urban regeneration project by regards how the question of alcohol the Urban Affairs department of One of Adliya’s famous steakhouses is The Meat Company, which has a rooftop bar with views of the city lights. should be dealt with. The implica- the Bahrain Ministry of Municipali- tion is that it is safe, urbane and civi- ties and Agriculture. Work on ‘The lised, much like the country itself, 338’, as it has been dubbed, started IT IS THE ONLY PLACE IN THE GULF WITH and that drinking is not an issue. last year and will see more parking SUCH A PERMISSIVE AMBIENCE This stands in stark contrast to the spaces, better traffic circulation and reality experienced in other parts of a new pedestrian road and square of numerous trendy Italian and Med- Adliya’s other famous steakhouse is Manama, most notoriously, Exhi- akin to Bahrain’s own ‘Covent iterranean restaurants in the district, The Meat Company, which also has bition Avenue, where drinking and Garden.’ Phase one is complete and also including Cico’s, Mino’s and a rooftop bar. Indeed, many of the prostitution are synonymous with phase two is planned to be ready for La Pergola at the multi-outlet Gulf restaurants in Adliya have adjunct the worst kind of intra-regional tour- the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix. Hotel. Camelot is a castle-themed bars, lounges or terraces, a situation ism, which many Bahrainis abhor. Even now, Block 338’s restau- French restaurant with a modern that would have many of the outlet It is for this reason that the alcohol rants, cafés and bars are considered interior, created by club owner owners in Dubai’s equivalent Jumei- licenses of the one- and two-star the apex of Manama’s F&B sector. Karim Miknas. Another French rah district in agonies of envy. hotels were recently revoked and Mezzaluna, for example, is located option is the Jolie Maison Brasserie Although there are of course why there are some elements of the in a traditional Bahraini courtyard de Luxe, which serves classic Gallic western F&B brands in Adliya, the parliament lobbying for much more house, and features cosy but con- fare in sequinned interiors. prominent outlets in and around far-reaching restrictions on alcohol temporary interiors and a continen- The elegant Ken Lo’s Memories ‘Restaurant Road’ are for the most in the country. As so often in its his- tal menu from a French chef. The of China is a ‘westernised Chinese’ part either proudly Bahraini, or con- tory, Bahrain stands at a cross-roads, ultra-trendy outlet is one of four restaurant franchise from London. tributions by westerners wanting to but the country can be relied on to from Bahrain’s Alghalia WLL, also A close competitor is the equally creating a truly sophisticated district make a civilised compromise. HME including Zoe, a hip lounge bar with renowned BamBu (Chinese and in their adopted country of Bahrain. a DJ and a bistro menu, and Café Thai), while Mirai is a ‘new wave’ Sheikh Hamad Mohamed Al Lilou, which has branches in both Japanese restaurant with a bar and Khalifa, director general of Urban Adliya and Al Aali Mall, boasting a costly menu by Australian chef Planning Affairs at the Ministry interiors reminiscent of a turn of the Dave Allen. The Brazil Rodizio is of Municipalities and Agriculture, Guy Wilkinson is a director of Viability, a hospitality and property consulting firm in Dubai. century Parisian brasserie. one of several Brazilian eateries in said of The 338: “I think the thing For more information, e-mail: The cool, minimalist Oliveto is one Bahrain to offer meat on skewers. that makes this project, and the area April 2010 • Hotelier Middle East