French pastry is known to be exquisite and divine, and one of the most successful ventures of bringing this message worldwide is Café Lenôtre (pronounced as /lenot/). When I was younger, my family and I happened to live right behind the Boutique Lenôtre down by Thalateen St. (It wasn't known as Café Lenôtre before, just "Lenôtre") and my father was good friends with one of the "boulangers" and he would always give me a free Lenotre cake on my birthday. His name was Jesus (not kidding) and I believe he was of Indian descent. If you're reading this Jesus, Hi! And I never forgot you. :)
As a kid, I always remember eating the shaved black and white chocolate sprinkled on top of my cakes, and as I grew older, it was their eclairs that got me smitten and drooling. Fast forward to my twenties, I now know Lenôtre as a posh cafe with a prime location in the middle of the city where my girlfriends and I can sit and have dinner and dessert atop a balcony that has a beautiful view of the city.
One night, over a recent heartbreak of one of my friends (ahermmm), it called for a get together of epic proportions. When your support system comes to the rescue, so does an above-average-amount of food, in our case, it was some fine dining for us. So just a tip dear readers, magastos din ang ma-heartbroken. :P
Anyway, since we're already a regular of Café Lenôtre for simple coffee dates and dessert treats, we realized that we have never tried their dinner menu just yet. And so, as the occasion calls for it, we decided to splurge and give it a try.
One thing you should know upon entering Café Lenôtre is that it has quite dim lighting. Even the indoors section is very low lit and once you decide to sit out in the balcony section, even dimmer. I suppose this gave the cafe a sense of cozy-mystery-feel if I may say so. Their tables are adorned with flowers and place mats and they have a booth section also for those who want to seat in cushioned chairs. Of course, the ladies and I wanted the fresh air and decided to be seated out in the balcony. Good thing we came in early that evening so it wasn't full yet. But come after the last prayer time, you'd be luck if you can even get in (true story).
Anyway, given the circumstances, I conjured some creative powers and asked my friend to light her phone's flashlight for me so that I can take decent pictures, despite the near-darkness of the place.
Here's what we had:
|Bread selection, complimentary|
Truth be told, I usually don't mind complimentary bread that much (even in other restos), but this is a restaurant rooted in pastry goodness. So I was a bit surprised that the bread we got was a bit stale. Hmmm, but anyway, they redeemed themselves later....read on. :D
|Tuna Maki, 65SR|
Their tuna maki would be a good order. Very rich topping of caviar and I'd say this is a good entree for two.
|Avocado and Salmon Salad, 70SR|
For those who like their greens, here's a zesty choice. All things considered, it was well-balanced in texture, with the crunch of the lettuce to the softness of the avocado. The smoked salmon gave it a proper kick in the salty department...but for me, the dressing was a but too sour for my palette. To be fair, I am not fond of anything sour to begin with. But if you're anything like me, perhaps you can ask the dressing to be on the side next time.
From left to right: it's the Cranberry Cutie (27SR), Yakiki Beach (27SR) and Berries Mojito (33SR). All recommended by our waiter and from these three, I liked the Yakiki Beach the best. It's sweet and everything summer should be -- all in a glass.
|Prime Rib Beef, 330SR|
And for the main course, and the ULTIMATE splurge of the night...Ze Prime Rib which you can cook to your liking in a heated marble tray. Now, don't get fazed by the price because I pledge to the food-writing gods that this is well worth your cash! It tasted like pork and with every bite in my mouth it got me all goo-goo-gah-gah reminding me that moaning over food was my first language.
Add to that sublime goodness of a meat was the rock salt condiment, a little squeeze of lemon and that dark-purple thing marinated in cider vinegar (I forgot what that was called)...I was in food heaven. Srsly. Hands down, one of the best Prime Ribs I have ever tasted in the city. I would easily give it a two thumbs up, with mouth-licking goodness and a happy dance in my seat for a most delicious satisfaction. And I'm not just saying that because it was freaggin' expensive. I am saying that because it's really, really, really good.
|Accompanied by three sauces and some chips.|
There was the honey-mustard mayo, peppercorn gravy and mushroom gravy to go with the prime rib, but I really didn't give it much notice because I found the beef sooo good on its own that I didn't even want gravy with it. But that's just me. You might be a gravy person, so go on right ahead. :)
As much as we wanted to take our time with the beef, it would be good for you to know that you shouldn't let it stay on the marble tray for so long because it's going to overcook and you'll end up with a garter-y piece of meat. Make sure you have a hefty appetite before ordering it so you can attack it at once as it arrives. I'd say that would have been good enough for four-average-eating persons. We were just three ladies and we had some leftovers pa. Not by choice. But by force. (Coz we were so full already!)
Having said that, what complimentary bread??? Haha. Totally forgot about it.
After some more chit-chat and a little character assassination of the recently anointed ex-boyfriend, we it was time to move on to some dessert and coffee. As most regular readers know, I am a chocolate fondant addict, that was our one order and the rest of us got coffee.
|Iced Moka, 27SR|
|Chocolate Fondant, 50SR|
Their coffee is good and fitting after a big meal. I personally had tea but didn't take a photo of it. As for their Chocolate Fondant, which I already had numerous times before whenever I'd go there, I'd say that it would be on my Top 5 Chocolate Fondants in Riyadh, but not quite the No. 1 spot. I did love the raspberries though. I felt that the mix of the raspberries and choco twists married well with the fondant and the ice cream.
|The view from the left side of Lenotre's balcony.|
We ended up staying there til midnight, talking our hearts away while enjoying the view of our bustling city. Café Lenôtre is one of those places where you don't feel that you are actually in Saudi Arabia because of the ambience and the people. Open, posh, elegantly urban. I think other guests recognize this so no one is disturbing the current dynamics of the place. As for their service, we're very proud that we have our fellow kabayans as the waiters, who were very decent, courteous and friendly.
Noted that it ended up to be an expensive night for all of us (spending almost 800SR for a dinner is not really something we do on a regular basis, right?), but I'd say that every riyal spent was worth it. And maybe, it's good to indulge ourselves from time to time, whether you're out with your loved one on a special date night, or in our case, if you're nursing a broken heart. :P
Visit Café Lenôtre soon, the balcony is perfect for the near-winter season. For reservations, contact nos. are provided below.
Riyadh Locations of Lenôtre are the following:
Restaurant Café Lenôtre
La Centria Mall, Tahlia St. Riyadh, KSA
T: +966 (1) 2791108
The Coffee shop by Lenôtre
Panorama mall,Tahlia St. Riyadh, KSA
T: +966 (1) 2815054
The Coffee shop by Lenôtre
Luthan Hotel, Riyadh, KSA
T: +966 (1) 4832416
Olaya, 30 St. Riyadh, KSAT: + 966 (1) 4651465