Everyone is welcome at Riyadh’s newest, snazzy lounge and restaurant: Soho Club

The eatery's façade is reminiscent of a 1950s-style Broadway theatre. (Supplied)
Updated 08 November 2019

Everyone is welcome at Riyadh’s newest, snazzy lounge and restaurant: Soho Club

DHAHRAN: The word “Soho” likely conjures up images of fashionable districts in New York or London. Or, perhaps, Soho House & Co. — the exclusive, members-only chain of hotels and restaurants popular with the creative community. But Soho Club on Tahliya Street in Riyadh is the Saudi capital’s newest lounge and restaurant — where everyone is welcome — and it’s one of a kind.

On a street that is inundated by dining establishments, Soho Club stands out from the crowd. Its façade is reminiscent of a 1950s-style Broadway theatre — bold lettering, marquee lights, art deco arches, and revolving doors. Past the revolving doors, a bouncer leads you through thick, velvet curtains and upbeat jazz music welcomes you inside.




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Candelabras on rustic, communal tables lend the right amount of allure and mystery. Masquerade masks (depicting a range of emotions), paintings, and vanity mirrors adorn the walls. Luxurious leather lounge chairs dot the premises. Golden scaffolding pipes run along the ceiling and the waitstaff dress in vintage overalls. It feels clandestine, exclusive, and, yes, grandiose.  

But that’s where any association with its namesake ends. Soho Club is frequented by young urbanities and families who come for its relaxed ambience, novel theme, international cuisine, and — of course — the club’s popularity on social media. Popular Insta-spots in the venue include the “Smoking Dog” (an eccentric painting of a dog in a top hat) and the ladies room (decorated like a powder room with plush settees, wall-to-wall mirrors, industrial pipe faucets, and Edison light bulbs hanging from the ceiling).




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Our hosts for the evening, manager Francis Pascua and chef Zakhia Bilen tell us about the food. “It can best be described as contemporary fusion,” says Bilen. “The menu has dishes that customers know, but in a form that is new to their taste buds.” Having worked in the Lebanese culinary industry for 15 years, Bilen brings his expertise in globally-focused cuisine to Soho Club.

Take the extensive appetizers menu: The Cappuccino Soup is a flavorful tomato soup with foam served in a coffee mug, along with a baguette crisp that resembles a sugar biscuit. Superfood like kale and Medjool dates are dressed up with bitter-sweet pomegranate molasses and aromatic truffle oil in the Truffle Salad. Prawns are served in a Chinese cabbage, with two sauces; one sharp, with a wasabi base and the other sweet, with a chilli base.




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Chicken bites glazed in a buffalo sauce are served in a waffle cone and drizzled with buttermilk ranch — chicken wings in maple-soy glaze may not sound original, but they pack a punch that you’ll remember.

The burgers and sliders menu has plenty to choose from. We opt for the Angus ribeye slider with classic accompaniments including fresh onions, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, cheddar cheese, and chipotle ranch sauce; and the crispy chicken slider with coleslaw, jalapenos, and buttermilk ranch. Bilen’s take on the Mexican-style, El Pollo Loco chicken features a barbequed chicken breast, parmesan aioli, kale leaves, and mango pickles. As a nod to local tastes, the kibdeh roll is served in a buttery, hot dog bun with chimichurri sauce and tahini truffle sauce.




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Although finger food and burgers seem to be crowd favorites, they may fill you up before you get to the mains. And it’s worth saving some space for the house specials. The black Angus short rib is braised in Coca Cola for four hours and served on a bed of celery-root puree; the neutral and earthy tones of the celery offset the sweetness of the tender meat. The baby barbeque chicken dish is served with spicy, herbed potatoes, and an avocado salad.

The dessert and shakes menu is relatively limited, but more than makes up for it with its extravagance. True to its name, The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ice-cream shake has an assortment of toppings including chocolate chips, cake, and jelly beans.

You might first be tempted to Soho Club for the Insta-worthy photo ops, but you’ll return for the food.


Photographers reveal Egypt’s hidden gems in show for a good cause

This is the group’s fourth charitable exhibition. (Supplied)
Updated 15 min 52 sec ago

Photographers reveal Egypt’s hidden gems in show for a good cause

  • Cairo Saturday Walks are a group of photographers who go on adventures every week to take pictures across the city
  • The team is now exhibiting its work for charity at a gallery in the city

DUBAI: The Cairo Saturday Walks team, a group of photographers who go on adventures every week to take pictures across the city, are now exhibiting their work for charity at a gallery in the city.

The exhibition brought together more than 50 local, international, professional and amateur photographers who are displaying their work in the Maadi district until Nov. 22.

The youngest participant is 13 and the oldest is 60. (Supplied)

All proceeds from the gallery will go to the restoration of a public facility in one of the underserved areas that the group has walked in and photographed during the past, according to the founder of Cairo Saturday Walks Karim El-Hayawan.

This is the group’s fourth charitable exhibition.

El-Hayawan described the practice as an “organic experience,” during which photographers discover the city’s hidden gems.

The group is displaying its work in the Maadi district until Nov. 22. (Supplied)

What started off as a one-man weekly walk is now a practice shared by 500 photographers.

El-Hayawan’s journey began after he took a basic introductory course in photography. “I did not have time during the week to work on my photography assignments. I used to go out every Saturday to take pictures and I used to post on my account. Then a lot of people started asking me ‘Where are these places? Where do you go? We want to join,’ although (these places) exist 10-15 minutes from anywhere in Cairo, but people did not notice them or had forgotten them,” he told Arab News.

The photographers walk around and discover the city’s hidden gems. (Supplied)

The group has a library of more than 15,000 pictures accessible on Instagram through #cairosaturdaywalks.

“We ask people who join us to share their pictures on that hashtag, with the intention of having a long-term documentation of Cairo,” El-Hayawan said. “Everyone takes pictures from his/her own perspective. It is extremely neutral; everyone takes pictures of whatever they want.”

In two to three years, people can go back to this documentation and see that Cairo looked this way at this time,” he said.

All proceeds from the gallery will go to the restoration of a public facility in one of the underserved areas that the group has walked in and photographed during the past. (Supplied)

A typical Saturday for the photographers starts off at a cafe. “We meet in the morning at a coffee shop and we take a little bus that we rent every Saturday and we just hit the road to somewhere random and we get lost. We call them to pick us up from wherever we reach at the end of the day. The idea is that it has no structure and I really aimed at that from the very beginning,” El-Hayawan said.

What started off as a one-man weekly walk is now a practice shared by 500 photographers. (Supplied)

The youngest participant is 13 and the oldest is 60, but El-Hayawan said that anyone can join the walk and share their pictures.

“I found out about Cairo Saturday Walks from Instagram. The spirit of people I walk with is just amazing. Also, the fact that I am Egyptian yet I still get amazed by Cairo’s streets is what pushes me to explore more every week,” Yara Wael, a 17-year-old photographer, told Arab News.