It’s fiesta time at the Hilton Bahrain Juffair, with the Mexican theme taking over the chic and urban hotel’s Friday Brunch this month.
The team (yours truly and GDN Media marketing and sales manager Jalal Jaffar) was invited to sample the spread last Friday, which fittingly was Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for ‘Fifth of May’ - a holiday that’s become synonymous with a celebration of all things Mexican.
History books will tell you that it was the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.
Entering the Origin Kitchen and Culture, we were immediately transported to the land of salsa, tacos and burritos, with food and beverage manager Kevin Rowe sporting a traditional sombrero hat and poncho - a long blanket-like cloak - ushering us to our seats.
Perked up by the zesty welcome drinks, with a Mexican band belting out latino classics, we moved on to tackle the humungous spread dished out by executive chef Ravneet Manchanda and team.
We got the party started with cheese-stuffed jalapeño poppers - that were tasty and tangy with just a hint of heat.
Jalal moved on to the live taco station, where you could have a choice of beef or chicken tacos, made the way you like.
“They were both packed with flavour... You can’t go wrong with juicy, tender meat with crunchy onion and fresh cilantro and creamy and nutty guacamole,” he gushed between mouthfuls.
The enchiladas were amazing with a spicy sauce and perfectly cooked chicken.
Honourable mentions include cilantro rice, chili con carne and the Ceviche station - featuring a wide variety of fish and shellfish.
Jalal loved the shrimp ceviche - describing it as tangy and refreshing - served with tortilla chips.
Ravneet said only the freshest and most authentic ingredients such as Poblano, Jalapeño, Pasilla, Habanero peppers sourced directly from Mexico in preparing to curate the Mexican-inspired brunch.
“We are showcasing a menu of classic dishes that truly embodies the spirit of a lively and vibrant Mexican fiesta,” he added.
While the theme is clearly Mexican, international cuisine is well-represented in the brunch - starting with the Indian section that features a live tandoor for freshly-baked rotis, naans and chicken tikka.
Hilton’s sushi bar is top-notch, with authentic-tasting Japanese food, as is the carving station with juicy grilled steak and other cuts of meat.
The wide selection of salads includes local favourites like tabbouleh, hummus and mutabbel alongside Greek and Italian salads and Asian slaws.
Bottomless beverages was the word Kevin used as we walked in and the attentive staff made sure our glasses were never empty.
My favourite part of the menu was the dessert station - that had live preparation of decadent Churros, Buñuelos, and Sopapillas — traditional Mexican sweet treats.
The churros — fluffy on the inside with crispy ridges that keep the sugar on - were among the best I have had.
I also loved the Saffron Milk Cake, Dulce de Leche, Chocolate Fudge and Passion and Raspberry Delight.
Not surprisingly, the kids all made a beeline for the candy floss (also known as cotton candy) machine, with the large soft balls of white sugar edging out luscious ice creams in the popularity stakes.
Foot-tapping music made brunchers dance with gusto and made for a lively and bustling setting.
They say no Mexican fiesta is complete without piñatas — a decorated container filled with treats strung from a rope and broken open using sticks by party-goers - and Hilton Bahrain wasn’t going to miss a trick.
The piñata bursting experience was made more fun as the grand prize in a raffle draw where two winners won free brunches.
The verdict: The delectable spread of food and drinks, live entertainment, ambience and decor, combine to deliver a must-visit Mexican carnival at the Hilton Bahrain in Juffair.
The brunch runs from 12.30pm to 4pm every Friday and costs BD39 with unlimited beverages.
For bookings, call 33692013 and follow @hiltonbahrain