Where We Are Going Today: Raoul’s Restaurant at VIA Riyadh

The Steak au Poivre is one of their top dishes and a staple in French cuisine, served with pommes frites. (Raoul's Instagram)
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The Steak au Poivre is one of their top dishes and a staple in French cuisine, served with pommes frites. (Raoul's Instagram)
Where We Are Going Today: Raoul’s Restaurant at VIA Riyadh
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Raoul’s is an internationally-acclaimed restaurant to serve quintessential French food, making the joint one of VIA Riyadh’s hidden gems with its timeless bistro menu. It was made famous with its ‘Best Burger in America’ title and migrated to Riyadh after becoming an NYC SoHo classic. (Raoul's Instagram)
Where We Are Going Today: Raoul’s Restaurant at VIA Riyadh
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While their Escargots à la Bordelaise isn’t the freshest seafood option for appetizers, the shrimp remoulade with wild arugula and horseradish is filled with tangy flavor. (Raoul's Instagram)
Where We Are Going Today: Raoul’s Restaurant at VIA Riyadh
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Raoul’s Burger au Poivre is perfectly juicy, well-seasoned, and rightly lives up to its international title. The elevated fast-food classic is definitely a dish to try at the bistro, topped with Saint-André cheese with a side of pommes frites. (Raoul's Instagram)
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Updated 24 November 2023
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Where We Are Going Today: Raoul’s Restaurant at VIA Riyadh

The Steak au Poivre is one of their top dishes and a staple in French cuisine, served with pommes frites. (Raoul's Instagram)
  • The artichoke vinaigrette with Raoul’s dressing is a classic, and the decadent seared foie gras is also worth trying

Raoul’s is an internationally-acclaimed restaurant that serves quintessentially French food. It is perhaps most famous for its New York outlet’s limited-edition burger au poivre, which the late, well-respected food writer Josh Ozersky once proclaimed “the best burger in America.” Raoul’s timeless bistro menu has now made it one of VIA Riyadh’s gems.

The restaurant is the perfect spot for special occasions with its lovely outdoor dining area, sophisticated ambience and VIA Riyadh’s colorful floral projections. Indoors, the décor is classic French-style bistro (although the prices are significantly higher than that image implies).

To kick off the meal, the ruby beetroot salad with sheep-milk feta, cucumber, and vinaigrette is a lovely way to tempt your taste buds, incorporating both sweet and savory flavors.

The artichoke vinaigrette with Raoul’s dressing is a classic, and the decadent seared foie gras is also worth trying. The latter is paired with a surette à la pomme that offsets its inherent slightly bitter edge and topped with pickled red onions that add a layer of complexity.

For seafood lovers, the shrimp remoulade with wild arugula and horseradish is filled with tangy flavor, and — for mains — we would recommend the roasted sea bass, served with artichoke confit and saffron beurre blanc sauce, adding new flavors to the delicious fresh bass, which is seared to give it a crisp exterior.

Of course, if you are visiting Raoul’s, then it’s worth sampling that famous burger au poivre. It’s perfectly juicy, well-seasoned, topped with Saint-André cheese, and lives up to its unofficial title, elevating a fast-food classic.

Another of the restaurant’s top dishes is the steak au poivre — a staple of French cuisine. The steak is marinated and cooked to perfection, justifying its high price. It pairs surprisingly well with the tang of Kir Raoul’s — a sparkling non-alcoholic wine with homemade cherry essence.

When it comes to beverages, the Pink Promise is a great choice for a unique flavorful drink. It is made with hibiscus brewed tea, soursop juice, rose, cardamom, and fresh lime.

The staff are extremely hospitable, welcoming, and happy to discuss menu items or substitutions. Raoul’s is open daily from 1pm to 12:30 p.m. and from 2pm to 12:30 p.m. on Fridays, serving luxurious brunches — including French- and Arabic-inspired dishes such as shakshouka, lamb merguez socca crepes, and souffle pancakes — as well as lunches.

Raoul’s is yet another of VIA Riyadh’s new luxury dining experiences that is absolutely worth trying.

 

 


Where We Are Going Today: Roka offers flavors of Japan with Mideast inflections

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Updated 01 March 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: Roka offers flavors of Japan with Mideast inflections

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Roka is a dining spot tucked away in a corner of one of Al-Sulaimaniya District’s vibrant plazas in the capital. Now, they are kicking their already unique dining experience up a notch with a new “Entertainment Nights” concept.

Every Thursday from 8 to 11 p.m. at Roka, guests can enjoy a flavorful dinner paired with live DJs and percussion.

You can tempt your taste buds with one of their signature drinks, or their limited-edition beverages for special occasions such as Saudi National Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

On Valentine’s Day, while experiencing the mixes of DJ Basslaw, the joint offered a delectable base of raspberry juice and shiso botanical tea topped with raspberry foam and a raspberry powder rim. The berry concoction bursts with a sweet-and-sour candy-like tang.

Their drinks menu offers an array of non-alcoholic cocktails and flavors native to Japan, like their white lotus that fuses yuzu, strawberries, dragon fruit, lychee and pineapple.

Our starters were a crispy prawn, avocado, and sweet dark soy roll and a salmon, avocado and asparagus roll with wasabi tobiko mayonnaise. The balance of umami paired wonderfully with one of their signature salads, a lettuce-based dish drizzled with caramelized onion dressing, which exemplifies the power of culinary simplicity. The salad is served unconventionally in slices, making it easier to bite into with chopsticks.

Their steamed beef, ginger, and sesame dumpling with black pepper vinegar sauce is another simple and light perfectly-cooked dish with a great kick. The dish pairs nicely with thinly sliced pickles, adding a certain complexity to the mix.

Roka offers a number of unique mains hailing from their Robata station, one of their three main kitchens along with their Sushi and Hotline kitchens. They are popular for their lamb cutlet with Korean spices and black cod marinated in yuzu miso.

A recommended dish is their signature and undeniably tender beef fillet with chilli, ginger and spring onion, an amazing dish that could either be muted or amplified in flavor depending on your preferred ratio of sauce. The steak goes well with their Roka baked potato in yuzu cream and chives which brings a creamy flavor with a bit of crunch.

In addition to the main menu, you can explore a plethora of unique plates from their seasonal, premium, and signature offerings. The sleek and trendy joint also hosts Izakaya Nights, a weekly event with new dishes and exclusive flavors for casual bar bites such as panko ebi kushiyaki and black cod krokke, along with live music.

On Saturdays, you can enjoy a live station brunch from 1 p.m., featuring a packed buffet and drinks. As Ramadan approaches, the restaurant will be serving an iftar menu priced at SR195 per person ($59), from March 10 to April 9.

Roka is a great spot to indulge in Japanese flavors, altered slightly to fit Middle Eastern palettes. Perfect for date nights or group gatherings, the restaurant is full of opportunities to nourish your taste buds, from the first bite to the last. With their friendly and memorable service, they will definitely have you coming back for more.

For updates and more information, check their Instagram @rokarestaurant.ksa.

 


Where We Are Going Today: OBAO restaurant in Al-Khobar

Where We Are Going Today: OBAO restaurant in Al-Khobar
Updated 28 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: OBAO restaurant in Al-Khobar

Where We Are Going Today: OBAO restaurant in Al-Khobar

At Khobar City Walk, OBAO’s distinct orange decor with opulent accents stands out amid a cluster of other eateries.

The Kingdom’s only branch opened two years ago, and the restaurant pays homage to Alkhobar’s vibrant gastronomy heritage by taking you on an eclectic culinary journey with each plate.

We ordered one of their signature dishes, the American crunch salad, with fresh greens, perfectly charred corn bits, kidney beans and a thoughtfully layered hill of crushed nachos on a plate that was packed with flavor and textures — all perfectly balanced and drizzled with their homemade ranch dressing. We rate it as one of the best salads in the area, and for SR 49 ($13), it was well worth the price.

We also ordered the sweet potato fries, which were well-seasoned and felt plentiful. But the best bite was from the chicken bao. At SR 42 for two buns, it was delicious with its pillow-soft dough baked in-house and a great portion of filling in between. They also have a variety of meats and pasta dishes that are wildly popular.

We really loved their theatrical signature nishikigoi drink, which comes with a temporary clear bubble atop the glass that bursts into a plume of smoke. It was a fun conversational beverage that tasted decent enough, but it was more for those wishing to capture it on video for social media posts.

They also offer a variety of desserts, coffees, and mocktails.

For updates and more details, follow them on Instagram @obao_sa.
 


Where We Are Going Today: ‘FistikLava’ in Jeddah

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Updated 26 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘FistikLava’ in Jeddah

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  • During Ramadan, FistikLava will offer takeaway boxes of borek pastries, special baklava, ⁠and iftar. Deliveries can be ordered via the Jahez app

A taste of Turkiye is on offer to breakfast diners at FistikLava in Jeddah’s Al-Rawdah district.

The restaurant’s owners have drawn their inspiration from the vibrant Balat district of Istanbul.

Among traditional Turkish dishes included on the menu are borek, pide – which includes options such as beef cubes, mix beefy cheese, and double cheese – and baklava, all freshly made.

The Istanbul and Trabzon breakfasts, a spread of savory and sweet dishes, are a popular choice with customers as is simit – a type of bagel – paired with shakshuka; eggs and tomato cooked together in a skillet.

The borek, a traditional layered pastry made from filo pastry and a filling, comes in several varieties including spinach, minced beef, or cheese, all of which can be washed down with Turkish coffee or tea, among other drinks.

During Ramadan, FistikLava will offer takeaway boxes of borek pastries, special baklava, ⁠and iftar. Deliveries can be ordered via the Jahez app.

More information is available on Instagram at @fistiklava_ksa.

 


Where We Are Going Today: L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Jeddah

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Updated 25 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Jeddah

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  • L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele is more than a mere dining spot; it embodies a 150-year legacy of commitment to mastering the craft of pizza making

L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Jeddah is a slice of Italy brought to Saudi Arabia. Tucked inside Le Prestige Mall on King Abdulaziz Road, this pizzeria is a haven for pizza-lovers seeking an authentic Neapolitan experience.

As soon as you step inside, you are met by "L’italiano" playing in the background, the aroma of freshly baked pizza, and a feeling of Italian charm. The walls are adorned with pictures of Francesco Zimone, the legendary proprietor, and prominent individuals who have savoured the taste of Da Michele’s masterpieces, setting the tone for an unforgettable dining experience.

Established in 1870, this pizzeria remains faithful to its traditions, serving pizzas with thin dough, crispy edges, and high-quality toppings. I chose a half-and-half pizza with margherita on one side (fresh tomato sauce, basil, and cheeses) and tartufo on the other, which had delicious truffle cream and mozzarella. Watching the pizza roast in the brick oven heightened the anticipation.

The flavors were sensational, prompting me to plan a return visit. To round out the meal, I had saffron risotto with Parmesan cheese and a delightful strawberry mojito with a tinge of lemon.

Of course, no Italian meal is complete without dessert. Their tiramisu paired perfectly with a shot of espresso, completing the culinary journey on a sweet note.

L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele is more than a mere dining spot; it embodies a 150-year legacy of commitment to mastering the craft of pizza making.

For updates and more information, check their Instagram @damichele_sa.

 


Where We Are Going Today: ‘Half Million’ cafe

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Updated 24 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘Half Million’ cafe

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  • Half Million also has a wide selection of tempting baked goods on display, all made fresh daily

Need a quick beverage before venturing back into congested city traffic? Look no further than Half Million, a specialty coffee cafe and one of the most popular spots for coffee lovers.  

Half Million has branches around the Kingdom in Riyadh, Jeddah, Sharqiyah, and even in London.

Aside from specialty coffees such as V60, iced drip, cold brew, and signature coffee, Half Million also offers iced lattes, cappuccino, iced cereal lattes, pistachio lattes, and other beverages for those who prefer milk with their coffee.

We also tried their popular hot chocolate and dark chocolate winter drinks, which has become a London branch fad. The dark chocolate is less sweet than usual and costs SR16 ($4.27).  

Half Million also has a wide selection of tempting baked goods on display, all made fresh daily.

A choice of desserts is also available, including pistachio eclairs and brownies, as well as savory delights such as cheesy and zaatar croissants.

The cafe gets its name from the amount of money the project was launched with when two friends decided to leave their hometown of Riyadh and set out on a trip to start their own business.

Filled with determination, they marched into the business world with capital of only SR500,000. However, with the support and encouragement of their local business community, their dream became a reality.

Most Half Million branches are open around the clock. They also deliver via apps such as Hunger Station and Jahez.

For seasonal specials and updates, check out their Instagram @halfmillion_sa.