In Riyadh, brunches have been trending, especially on Fridays, as hotels keep on introducing their buffet brunches at odd hours compared to other countries. Brunch starts at lunch time for most hotels. They’re not a cheap meal, with some going beyond SR 300 per person. It’s definitely an indulgence, something to treat families and friends or to celebrate a special occasion with. Brunch is definitely not overrated; it’s our favorite meal on weekends. For someone living outside the Gulf countries, they wouldn’t understand the importance of Friday, a valuable day not only to the locals but also to expats who enjoy their day off on this very day. Indulging once in a while is a must for such a precious day. And so, yes, a lavish brunch is in order and one of the newest hotel restaurants in the city just introduced their brunch offering. 56th Avenue Diner just became the hottest table on a Friday in Riyadh.
56th Avenue Diner is an all-American restaurant inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Olaya Street. (You can read about its opening HERE.) On ordinary days, you’ll find a mixture of traditional favorite dishes from different regions of the United States of America. On a Friday, this diner transforms into a buffet restaurant with an epic array of international dishes served in a seamless kitchen-dining room setting. Nothing about the red chairs and tables of the restaurant suggests a super luxurious dining but the price of a buffet per adult is up there at SR 299. Kids from 12 to 6 years old is at half the price – SR 149 each, while kids below 6 eat for free. 56th Avenue Diner and its spacious dining area welcome guests for brunch from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Their interiors boasts of bright, sunny spaces with high ceiling and glass walls; their booths feature couches covered in bright red leather and their lighting fixture remind me of an upside down bowl, huge ones! We were greeted by their exceedingly pleasant staff. Off to a good start!
The first food I plucked from their massive selection is a donut. Yes, a Sugar-Coated Donut that is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s soft and with a sip of their Salted Caramel Milkshake, becomes truly heavenly. I have no idea why I started with something sweet but they just beckoned, you know? Haha! That’s the beauty of a buffet, there’s no sequence to the food you can get. You can start with dessert and end with an appetizer, or have sweets in between. Or why not get the main course first? It’s up to the diner. The food is there; take your pick!
56th Avenue Diner adheres to an open kitchen concept in their buffet. It’s so open, guests can actually go inside the cooking area to get food. It’s a bit awkward at first because honestly, I don’t want to get in the way of the chefs but it’s also inspiring to see them do their thing in their comfort zones. There are two open stations: one for the salads and another for the grill. The cold and hot stations are side-by-side each other. In here, good taste rules!
Starters include salads and I love their options because I don’t have to make my own. They’re already prepared in bowls and I just have to get from each. I mean, who can say no to a salad named after Olaya studded with strawberries and bean sprouts? Among the selections are Waldorf Salad, Quinoa Salad, Corn & Black Beans Salad, and Coleslaw Salad. I went for the King Crab Salad because hello, King Crab! When and where can I eat a king crab in Riyadh? The strands of crab meat put punches of freshness and saltiness in the salad; I just hated that there were small pieces of crab shells (it’s that hard to pull ’em meat out).
The other item in the salad bar that I made sure to get is the Burrata Mozzarella. It’s such a simple dish: the ball of white cheese is surrounded by plump tomato slices and basil, drizzled with pesto sauce. It’s so amazing! When I sliced it, the thick, chewy outer membrane gave way to gushing soft, lush cheese. So yummy! This cheese is fresh and healthy (the chef said so).
One section features Japanese food. They have maki rolls and smoked salmon sliced thinly. The flavor combinations are great. My only qualm is that most of the maki rolls have shrimp tempura inside. A nice, varied filling will lend this Japanese corner the punch and verve it deserves. The cold platters of boiled king crab, jumbo prawns and mussels gave me the best kind of deja vu when I was going through similar seafood buffets in different buffets in the city. I didn’t indulge in these seafood though because I was excited for the grilled meats more.
The grilled section has different cooking equipment but they basically serve grilled meats from sausages to lamb chops to steaks. Their grilled items have no bells, no whistles. Just pure meaty goodness! They also have grilled prawns and grilled mushrooms on the side. The prawns were my favorite. They have the right sear to them and they taste so fresh and sweet that I imagine them being hauled from the ocean just a few hours ago. Haha! The steak slices of rib-eye and sirloin had a hearty integrity with just the right amount of fat in each piece. They were juicy and tender. The lamb chops was a bit chewy and hard to chow down by a person with sensitive teeth (like me) but the pinkish center is tantamount to right cooking. Reina’s favorite is the sausage that they also sandwich in between buns. They’re flavorful and a bit peppery. They also gave us sliders, tiny hamburgers that are easier to eat. I wasn’t a fan of their bun because they’re not the potato rolls I’m used to. However, the patty is really beefy and tender. The middle is still pink and has a subtle flavor which can be amped by ketchup and mustard.
My favorite dish would have to be the Spicy Fried Chicken Wings. I regret having it towards the end of my meal because I didn’t have enough space for the hundred chicken wings I want to fill my tummy with! Haha! The wings have a sweet, spicy, crunchy skin and hot, tender, and juicy meat. They were a delight to eat one by one. If I wasn’t so full, I might lose count of how many wings I can eat in one sitting. Even up to now, while writing this, I want a plate of 56th Avenue Diner’s Spicy Fried Chicken Wings please!!! I’ve been craving for this since the weekend. Reina also ordered the Mac N Cheese, the quintessential American food. It’s creamy and for a dish that looks plain and boring, this pulls in a lot of flavors; thanks in part to the pieces of crispy beef bacon and fried onions.
Desserts are no-brainers. 56th Avenue Diner loaded up tables with various sweets, cakes, and pastries. They have a chocolate fountain where marshmallows, pineapples, strawberries, and brownies can be dipped. They have creams and mousse in jars, cakes in little plates, whole cheesecakes we took by the slice, and an ice cream stand that offers six flavors including chocolate, vanilla and mango. The walls are adorned with jars of candies and gummies. Such a brilliant idea! It made the space colorful and happy! What a brunch!
Brunch has been our favorite meal on weekends because it shows us the beauty of a rest day. We can lounge around all morning, catching a few more hours of sleep and rolling out of bed and out the house for a brunch that we don’t have to prepare and cook because hey, it’s the weekend! We can be lazy! The time is ours and we can do anything with it. We can eat in the comfort of our homes or the comfort of a restaurant serving us non-stop, endless food for a price that’s high, yes, but that’s the price of embracing a decadence we can’t always have. We recommend breaking your routine at the Friday brunch of 56th Avenue Diner.
56th Avenue Diner
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Olaya Street,
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Friday Brunch: 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Disclaimer: We were invited to brunch by the management of 56th Avenue Diner. All feedback, comments and opinions in this entry are mine.