RIYADH: LPM (formerly known as La Petite Maison) Restaurant and Café will open soon in the Saudi capital. Executive chef Raphael Duntoye told Arab News on our visit to LPM’s ‘soft’ launch that he intends to deliver the simple, classic dishes for which the French Mediterranean eatery has become internationally known. Riyadh is LPM’s sixth location, after London, Dubai, Miami, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong.
“The Saudi market wanted LPM for what it is — the signature menu and recipes, which we have been consistent about for the last 13 years,” Duntoye said. “So we decided to deliver just that for now — and do it greatly.”
The menu has both French and Italian influences, (Duntoye describes it as “a journey to explore the essential joy at the heart of Mediterranean ingredients at their peak”) and each dish we sampled was bursting with intricate flavors.
With over 70 dishes included in the menu and more seasonal creations from Chef Duntoye, there is definitely something for everyone.
LPM’s trademark dish is the Escargots de Bourgogne — snails with butter sauce and parsley. Served in a cast-iron pan, it is the decadent butter sauce that truly sets this dish apart from the snails we have sampled in other restaurants.
The warm prawns with olive oil — which Duntoye accurately describes as “simple, beautiful, yet very light, balanced and tasty,” is another memorable dish. What appears simple on the surface — prawns laid in a bed of olive oil and dressed with fresh basil, salt, pepper, and a hint of lemon — takes you through a whirlwind of complex flavors from the first bite. It’s worth asking for a slice or two of baguette to mop up the wonderful sauce too.
For dessert — if you really have to choose only one — you can never go wrong with the Gâteau au Fromage Frai (cheesecake). It’s what can only be described as a pillow of fluffiness — a thick layer of silky creme filling laid over a thin crust of biscuit served alongside a berry reduction. It’s a firm favorite at LPMs all over the world — and of our table on the night.
The ambience is relaxed and playful — bright bold art hangs on the walls, while classy belle-époque touches are juxtaposed neatly with the neutral backdrop of the restaurant interior.
“It’s a very fresh, classic and simple interior (with) very colorful, naive — and I would say a little bit provocative — art on the wall,” LPM’s director of global operations, Nicolas Budzynski, told us. “This is what LPM is about; you have a very classic approach but you always have a sense of surprise.”
One detail that must not be overlooked is the hospitality of the staff. This is what truly ties the LPM experience together; the waiters are excellent and really elevate our experience.
The executive chef described the ethos as “a generosity of spirit that brings people together. A room full of easy-going warmth, joie de vivre, possibility: guests and staff connected, animated, loving life.”
The staff’s passion for service shines through. A prime example is French server Cedric, who previously worked in LPM’s Dubai location and has now moved to Riyadh. Cedric is immediately welcoming and personable, putting customers at ease and happy to chat about his own life.
Contrary to other fine-dining experiences, LPM does not have silver service —it encourages a family setting, with guests serving and sharing the food together.
“We have a very humble approach, people should feel like they are at home when they come to LPM,” Budzynski said. “You put the food in the middle and everybody’s helping themselves.”
This relaxed atmosphere, warm hospitality and high-quality food creates a memorable experience for visitors. A visit to LPM really feels like you’ve been transported to the south of France without leaving the heart of Riyadh.