The wave of veganism flooding the Arabian Gulf has finally washed over the island nation of Bahrain. Though a number of eateries offer vegan-friendly options, Plant Café emerged in February 2017 as the first 100% plant-based restaurant in the Kingdom. Inspired by the culinary creativity of American chef, Matthew Kenney, Plant Café honors his innovative style and aesthetic as learned through the vegan chef’s signature training. At first glance, one would assume that Bahrain’s Plant Café is an extension of his franchise, but it is actually independently owned and operated by local and regional entrepreneurs who are individually and collaboratively passionate about plant-based wellness and holistic living.
Plant Café’s curated menu encompasses a variety of raw and cooked plant-based dishes that are as light or hearty as the diner wishes. Cold-pressed juices of the finest organic quality available cleanse the palate before delving into a selection of appetizers that can be as common as Bread and Butter or as elaborate as Raw Cauliflower Sushi. I opt for the latter, paired with a creamy Sunflower Caesar Salad adorned with edible flowers, followed by Mushroom Toast Bites. The spelt bread stacked with smoked shitake mushrooms and smeared with paprika sauce prepare my stomach to transition into the entrée selection.
Though raw entrees are always a treat, I have a long day of travel ahead and prefer a filling Black Burger instead. Of course, the burger was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. A buckwheat sesame bun, filled with a generous black bean and chickpea patty, red cabbage, smoked cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, pickled beets, caper yogurt and spicy aioli oozing all over. It was a delicious mess perfectly contrasted against the neatly dehydrated zucchini chips on the side. I also enjoyed the Dragon Udon bowl which reminded me of Pad Thai with its sweet and tangy tamarind sauce, topped with broccoli, spinach, and fresh cilantro.
With not enough time to sit for a final course of raw strawberry cheesecake or berry-topped chocolate cake, I perused through the pre-packaged options for a grab-and-go snack. The dehydrated flax chips tempt me, but the raw cacao and pistachio energy balls win my vote and sound more appetizing than the pack of salted peanuts offered on my short flight to Dubai. I savored the meal in total appreciation of why Plant Café is as popular with vegans as it is with non-vegans. In the collective consciousness worldwide, the ‘health is wealth’ mantra is echoing and consumers are prepared to spend a fair penny investing in it. Plant Café is pioneering the concept of plant-based fine dining in Bahrain, and I anticipate the endemic spread of their vision throughout the region very soon.
This article was originally published in Vegan Lifestyle Magazine, Issue #49. The entire digital magazine can be downloaded at the following links: