PEOPLE close to me know there are two things close to my heart … fabulous football and fine food … so you could well imagine how heavenly recent days have been, feasting in the island’s finest dining establishments whilst watching one of the most mesmerising World Cup Finals ever staged.
Although I’m well versed with the virtues of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Bahrain, having reviewed many of its restaurants and even its refurbishment rooms, I’ve never spent any quality time inside The Harvesters.
I had been tipped off that its BBQ Beef Ribs would leave me drooling in absolute ecstasy but I didn’t realise it would make me miss hat-trick hero Harry Kane scoring his third goal as England pummelled Panama.
I’d taken assistant editor Zahid Balooshi with me for a working lunch which just so happened to coincide with the group stage fixture and on the drive along Exhibitions Avenue we had a little side bet on the result, with the winner buying our Monday ‘press day’ office lunch.
Of course, with a supreme knowledge of the sport (far greater than Kristian ‘Voice of Sport’ Harrison it would appear, judging by his World Cup predictions, I went for 5-0 and was almost there at 6-1 (the final score, which I later explained to Zahid meant that I had won - if you take one from six, you get five and remember, the editor is never wrong).
Zahid, had gone for a no-score draw (what does a man from Balochistan know about footy in any case?) and I could see him wince from the corner of my eye as the England goal tally started mounting up.
A John Stones header from a well-worked free-kick routine and a second Kane penalty gave them a 5-0 lead going into the break.
The England captain completed his hat-trick when a shot from Ruben Loftus-Cheek deflected in off the Tottenham forward in the 62nd minute.
Kane became just the third England player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup game following Geoff Hurst in the 1966 final and Gary Lineker against Poland in the 1986 tournament.
I had to wait for the replay of that glorious goal because I had my eyes closed just at that vital second, having swallowed my first bite of the soft, succulent BBQ Beef Ribs.
I couldn’t help it. It was natural instinct. My ecstatic culinary experience occurred at exactly the same time as Harry’s magic footballing fantasy moment led to the ball settling into the back of the net.
The BBQ Ribs, (BD9.950++) which Senior Sous Chef Suseno Hadisutarno, told me were slowly-cooked, and came served with a stunning jus, a light gravy made from the juices given off by the meat as it warmed through.
One bite and you’ll feel like Harry Kane.
Another star dish, one of only a few main courses featured on this special Harvesters World Cup Menu, was the Grilled Gulf Prawns (BD8.950++) which started another heated debate after I’d stopped dancing around the tables with Zaid over what the difference was between prawns and shrimps, apart from the number of claws they have.
Most of the menu features delightful and perfectly-priced (mostly BD2-3++) bites and snacks so as not to interfere with the viewing of the onscreen action.
For example, supporters have been tucking into Cheddar Jalapeno Bites, breaded hotness from Andalucia and Albondigas, a selection of beef meatballs with tomato sauce. We both highly recommend the Classic Paella, a perfect mouthwatering mix of shrimps, chicken and chorizo baked rice.
Ehab El Fouly, Harvesters’ manager, after wiping away his tears following his beloved Egypt’s pitiful display in this tournament, said he was delighted by the reaction of customers to the menu and the way the outlet had been transformed into a warm and welcoming World Cup venue.
The flags of all the nations competing are flying high, the games can be captured on a giant screen complimented by numerous screens across the venue and the friendly and efficient serving team members are proudly sporting football-inspired attire.
They are special beverage and food promotions throughout the tournament for those in a celebratory mood (Come on England!) and for those wanting to drown their sorrows.
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Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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