And here we are again, I guess this must be fate… or an incredible love for steaks. Welcome to yet another steak house in the city of Riyadh where you’ll never go hungry for burgers or steak. Because those seem to be the most favorite food of the entire kingdom. Haha! The newest steak house in the busy street of Tahlia is not from the United States. It was established in 1996 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Wow, South Africa! Now that is NEW! Founded by Alan Pick, this restaurant (more than a restaurant as claimed) is THE expert in meat. As a matter of fact, it is rated as one of the top restaurants in South Africa selling 8-12 tons of meat per week (carnivore country!). It is also the only steakhouse in South Africa that received the maximum 3 stars in the Rossouw’s Restaurants’ Guide in 2009, 2010, and 2011. I wonder how the Riyadh franchise will fare. Well, let’s get it on then! Welcome to the Butcher Shop and Grill!
I’ve seen this restaurant when it was being built. I used to pass by the area, literally on the street beside it, when I worked briefly for a PR and publishing firm in Olaya. Every morning, I see the layers of bricks stacked upon each other; the lights being fitted on the ceiling, and even furniture being delivered. The tarp in front is one of the first things to be put up and I can already clearly see what it was. Yet another steak house. While it’s something new, I’m not too excited about it because Riyadh is now overpopulated with steakhouses. In our past restaurant entries, I can’t help but wish for something different, something unique. Alas, Riyadh is pretty well-known for franchises. I went home to the Philippines and when I came back after two months, the Butcher Shop and Grill is open. Of course, I threw caution to the wind, forgot all about my complaints on being yet another steak house in the city, and I’m at their doorstep pronto.
What makes the Butcher Shop and Grill different from other steak restaurants is their in-house butchery alongside the restaurant where great master butchers are in-charge of aging and selecting the meat to be served. They give advise on how to best prepare and cook the meat cuts. In the Riyadh branch, I didn’t see anything like it. We were just given a menu after we sat in one of their booths in the family section. I actually like the interiors of the place. It’s a classic spin on wood and black finishes with dangling lights and leather seats. The menu is simple but boasting of high quality dishes; some as familiar because they’re named as is. I nearly fell for the Chicken Liver because I love chicken livers but my friend cautioned me that it’s expensive for SR 32. I chuckled at her order of Scampi. “You mean fried shrimps?” Breaded shrimps for SR 39. That’s not questionable? I laugh at our decisions.
A basket of bread and dips came first in our table. Apart from the butter and pate, the tray came with a small bowl of boerewors. Uhmn what?! We were informed that it’s loosely-filled seasoned beef sausage — a favorite from South Africa. I pop one in my mouth and a burst of flavorful meat and juice came startling me for a second. For a teeny slice of sausage, this one is flavorful. The tomato sauce it’s swimming in has a sweet tone in it. We ignore the bread as it’s a bit tough and dry but we taste the spreads it came with.
The Prawn and Avo Salad is a revelation… it’s so good! The salad came in our table looking like the greens drowned the primary ingredients. I was worried they gave us the Garden Salad but a bit of digging revealed the plump shrimps and avocados underneath. The addition of the mango carpaccio and light citrus dressing provided a good play in texture and taste. This one is a winner.
My friend’s appetizer of Scampi (fried shrimps) came and it was in a white pristine plate. Pieces of breaded shrimps were arranged in a line over a few leaves and slivers of cocktail sauce, all leading to a small tub of tartare sauce. The shrimps are robust; crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. They weren’t special though. Skip and go for something unusual from the menu if I were you. Go for something you haven’t tried instead like the Beef Carpaccio or Mussels, which are hard to come by in Riyadh.
There is always an ongoing debate in my head if I should even bother ordering mocktails or juices or coolers whenever I eat steaks. Do you think they pair well together? Apart from beer and wine, sodas are the best pairing for such intense food. Or water, fine. But since we’re trying something new, I decided to drink something new too. So we go with the mocktails. My drink is interestingly-named: Peach on the Beach. My friend’s is Strawberry Daiquiri. They’re okay.
The Butcher Shop and Grill’s menu features combo dishes that mixes steak with other meats making it easy for us to try what we want without ordering two different dishes at a time. We went for the Ribs and Rump which speaks of the two favorite meats ordered in a steakhouse: the BBQ ribs and the steak. The steak featured is the Rump, another name for Top Sirloin. If ordered separately, the ribs cost SR 86 (half) and SR 124 (full) while the Rump is at SR 82 for 280 grams. Our order came glistening in their glory. Our inner carnivore couldn’t contain its excitement. The sides of mashed potatoes and corn on the cob wrestled for our attention, but briefly. No one can stop us from devouring what we came here for.
The steak, which we ordered medium well, was executed perfectly. Almost pink at the center, the corners well done and with good charring at the top and bottom. If I were to taste the meat alone, I would say that it’s a bit bland but with the juices all around, it was delightful to eat. The juiciness helped in making this a stellar piece of meat. The meat on the ribs weren’t falling off the bone but it’s quite nice; it tugs cleanly off the bone. The barbecue sauce wasn’t overpowering. The sweet and tangy sauce complemented the rub and the smokiness of ribs. We surrender to the meat.
A friend followed after a few minutes and ordered the Rib-eye. It came with vegetables, mashed potato and brown gravy. She wanted hers medium rare. The steak came glistening in a white dish and looks good just by looking at it. However, when cut, she found some parts of her steak rare; still bloody and uncooked for the most part. We called the waiter and had the steak returned to the kitchen for a few more minutes in the grill. When it came back out, it wasn’t still the medium rare she was looking for. She surrenders to what was laid in front of her. Next time, I’m sure she’ll throw a fit if her meat is not cooked properly. For now, she lets it go.
What I like about this steakhouse is the number of side dishes and kind os sauces they offer, and some of them are unique to them only. Next time we’ll probably try the Quinoa, Baked Pumpkin, and Creamed Spinach. For the sauce, the monekygland and bleu cheese piqued our interest but not enough for us to deviate from our usual mushroom and pepper.
Dessert came in a separate menu. We ordered a staple in most steakhouse’s menu: the Molten Chocolate Cake which is called in other names somewhere else. The cake came with ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. Oh sticky and sweet! Yum! We love it. We share one and the spoons came barreling in and out the dark chocolate cake and the vanilla ice cream one after the other. Cold, hot, cold, all sweet… ahhh it’s so good!
There are other items in their dessert menu that I wanted to try. Lemon Meringue Tart or Sticky Toffee Pudding anyone? Ahhh bliss. Next time.
The Butcher Shop and Grill was still on soft opening when we went. Some areas are still off limits to the public that’s why we couldn’t get a good grasp of the restaurant as a whole. They might have opened the whole resto now and is fully operational. For those who went there recently, do they have a butcher shop? Do they display the meats they’re proud of? If they do, then they have come in full circle. If not, then they are just halfway from their roots in South Africa. Nevertheless, I’m glad that The Butcher Shop and Grill opened here in Riyadh.
The Butcher Shop and Grill
Tahlia Street, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia