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Gearing up for F1avour.

WITH the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2012 fast approaching, race fans in the kingdom can be found lapping up the atmosphere at Club F1, a nightspot that is named after the world's hottest motor sport.

Located at the Metropolitan Hotel in Hoora, this racy destination delivers exactly what you'd expect. In recent days the members of staff have been gearing up for the Formula One weekend and the venue has been transformed into a metaphorical pit stop for locals and expats to enjoy the race as well as a fusion of fare.

The venue is being kitted out with flags from around the world to embrace the theory that Bahrain's favourite sport unites the world. The waiters and waitresses will be donning F1 team T-shirts of their choice although a neutral option will be available in case they find it hard to pick a favourite. Since the outlet prides itself on being the 'Formula One destination of choice' (after the BIC, of course) the team has been briefed on race statistics, its history and driver profiles to ensure they can hold a weighted conversation with customers over the weekend.

Inside, the venue is split into different sections so that customers can enjoy the atmosphere of their choice. There is the bustling main bar area, a separate dining area and a relaxed lounge.

Luckily, there are TVs strategically located all around the venue which means no matter where you sit or stand, you needn't miss a moment of the big race.

There are six screens in total, including one giant projector which delivers a larger-than-life view of all the on-track action.

Race fans may come for the sport but they'll definitely stay for the food and impressive selection of beverages, although the names may not be suitable for the shy and bashful.

During race weekend, the club will have a range of food and beverage promotions on offer including 20 per cent off all food and drinks during happy hour (until 8.30pm) and a mouth-watering range of delicacies, including steak and lobster.

Assistant food and beverage manager, Nitin Dixit, said: "Formula One is a special event and we have special food promotions to match. Once the race finishes, the party begins.There's something for everyone at Club F1 and the menu is as varied as the clientele."

In charge of the kitchen team is Head Chef Jagdish Mandal. Chef Jagdish, 41, from Hoora, has worked with the Ramee Group for 19 years and has 22 years of experience in the hospitality industry which ensures that regardless of who wins the race, the food on the F1 menu takes the chequered flag.

Originally from Kolkata, India, his interest in cooking began at an early age and he learned the basics at home. He said: "I've always enjoyed cooking and used to watch my mother preparing dinner all the time in the kitchen. Cooking started out as a hobby but I soon realised I wanted to make it my profession."

In Formula One there are teams from all over the world and at Club F1 the menu is just as multi-cultural, thanks to Chef Jagdish's culinary repertoire.

"I like to cook lots of different types of cuisine and they're all on the menu at Club F1. From Italian to Indian, continental to Thai, there is something for everyone," he added.

There are plenty of main course options on the menu but Chef Jagdish told me that the range of titbits and snacks are just as popular.

"People love our nachos and buffalo wings, but if they're hungrier we have a wide range of main courses to choose from. The steak is one of our specialities and is very popular with regulars," he said.

One of the specialities being dished up at Club F1 during race weekend is the Royal Skewers, a delectable treat served on a thin metal rod used to hold pieces of chicken, beef or seafood together.

To get a varied experience, I ordered the chicken and beef, both of which are marinated before the cooking process to ensure they're full of flavour.

Each dish is accompanied by sauteed mixed vegetables, garlic bread, a hefty helping of mashed potato and a rich peppercorn sauce.

When my food arrived, I was instantly impressed with the presentation. The meat was dangling from the skewer like a pendulum and certainly looked 'the business' but how did it taste, you ask?

The chicken was tender and succulent and I felt a ripple of excitement each time I slid a mouth-watering piece off the skewer onto my plate.

Not to be outdone, the beef also hit the spot and it really shifted into gear when dipped in the spicy peppercorn sauce. As for the mash, one word, wow! It was creamy and fluffy just like real mash ought to be and its flavour was complimented very nicely by the crisp garlic bread. In my opinion, Club F1 is a venue worth accelerating to.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Apr 18, 2012
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