On any given day, a typical Greek dining table is a festival of food. Those gathered around it love to eat and love to feed. That pretty much sums up our experience of dining with Chef Emmanouil Kyriakidis at Rigani, a dine-in pop-up at InterContinental Bahrain.
Far from the long, blue Mediterranean shores, Chef Kyriakidis, the Director of Food & Beverage at the luxury hotel in Manama is on a mission to bring authentic flavours of his home, Greece to the people of Bahrain.
As plate after plate arrived at our table, we filled up on the many stories and flavours of this Mediterranean destination. He spoke fondly of the culinary and dining traditions, often referring to his late grandmother preparing the food he now serves at Rigani. The ‘home’ he wishes to share with us is evident in the ambience he has curated, including the music in the background. Needless to say, while exploring the succulent flavours at Rigani, we knew we were home.
While ample daylight makes it a beautiful spot to dine in during the afternoons, Rigani certainly comes into its element after sundown when the warm white lamps overhead and lanterns on the table create a serene vibe for fine dining.
Olive oil, feta cheese, oregano, and most of the ingredients you’ll taste at Rigani are sourced from Greece. The dégustation (tasting) menu features 14 dishes – salads, spreads, appetizers, main course, and desserts – each taking you on a whirlwind journey through fresh flavours, textures, and a traditional Greek experience.
It was incredible to watch the Spanakopita being prepared by Chef Grigoriadis. A long-time colleague of InterCon’s F&B Director and an expert in Greek cuisine, Chef Grigoriadis brings with him the craft of authentic Greek food to Rigani. While preparing the Spanakopita, he reminisced about the meticulous technique women employed while preparing this much-loved local bake, almost a right of passage for anyone learning the ropes of a Greek kitchen.
The Spanakopita, or as we like to call it, the showstopper at Rigani, is a delicious and crispy savoury pie prepared with phyllo dough and a filling of spinach, olive oil and feta cheese. Best when it’s hot from the oven, the Spanakopita is one you’d want to go back to Rigani for again and again. We know we do!
Spreads and Salads
Spreads and Salads are integral to a Greek dining table. The traditional Greek salad, or Horiaitiki, was a medley of locally sourced fresh vegetables and greens along with purely Greek feta cheese. We also tried the Patatosalata because who doesn’t love a bright-looking classic potato salad when combined with capers, capsicum, onion, and parsley?
Among the spreads, Tzatziki wasn’t the only one that kept us indulged. Chef Kyriadikis introduced us to quite a variety:
Fava – a slow-cooked split lentil spread with diced tomato and onion, best served with a generous sprinkle of lemon on top.
Melitzanosalata – A mildly chunky mix of roasted eggplants, parsley, tomato, green capsicum, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and feta cheese. The Melitzanosalata bears a resemblance to Baba Ganoush or Mutabbal. The discerning difference is in the feta cheese.
Skordalia – Amash up of potato and garlic, blended evenly with vinegar and a lot of olive oil.
While the Spanakopita is going to remain etched in our memory for a long time, it wasn’t the only delicious appetiser we tried. The crunchy Zucchini & Eggplant Fritters paired perfectly with the spreads, especially the Tzatziki.
The Lahanodolmades (or Dolma), features a delicious filling of cabbage leaves, minced meat and an “avgolemono” (egg and lemon) sauce.
The spreads, salads, and appetizers are more than capable of leaving you satiated. But, your authentic Greek experience is incomplete without trying the Greek Mousakka. To many, the Mousakka is considered the national dish of Greece, given how frequently it’s relished by tourists and served in almost every Greek tavern. This layered preparation of potatoes, eggplant, spiced ground meat, tomato sauce, cheese and béchamel is one of the top Greek dishes you need to try.
We also tried a helping of three other dishes from the main course menu that deserve recognition for their versatility and flavours:
Arni Gastra, Patates Ladorigani – a signature dish at Rigani featuring a slow-cooked lamb shank, potatoes and oregano.
Garides Makaronia – Spaghetti with shrimp in a traditional tomato sauce with dill.
Gemista – Baked Stuffed tomatoes and capsicum baked until soft with rice, tomato, mint, dill, parsley and raisins.
Value for Money
A large variety of the dishes individually are nominally priced, allowing anyone dining at Rigani to have a full-course meal at approximately BHD 35 for 2.
A dégustation (tasting) menu for first-timers or novices to Greek cuisine. This menu features 4 salads and spreads, 3 appetizers, 5 main course dishes, and 2 desserts and is priced at BHD 18 for 2 people.
If you’re familiar with the cuisine, a more elaborate menu featuring a wider selection of dishes is also available. As an ambassador of Greek Cuisine, Chef Kyriakidis wants everyone to know what authentic Greek cuisine is.
A Gateway to Homemade Greek Food
For Chef Kyriakidis, Rigani is the gateway to simple, home-cooked Greek food – no fusions, no twists. His mission with this dine-in experience isn’t just about putting the best flavours of his homeland together, but a way for diners in Bahrain to experience the what, why, and how of Greek food.
Rigani was until now a cloud kitchen, available only through online ordering. The dine-in experience is certainly a new addition to InterContinental Bahrain’s F&B offerings and it’s one we recommend you check out.
To book your table at Rigani, contact: 17208313 or 36967701.