The hotel Mövenpick opened its doors last September in Riyadh and they have some really nice restaurants all worth trying out. Most notable of the hotel’s offerings is the French Fine Dining restaurant, Acacia by Pierre Gagnaire. Mr. Gagnaire is a 3 Michelin star chef, making this restaurant the only of its kind in the entire Saudi Arabia. This was also my first time to try a three star Michelin restaurant.
I had the pleasure to try out the Mövenpick’s Acacia a while ago and I can say without a doubt it was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in Riyadh. When I say experience, I mean the entire time from stepping into the beautifully decorated restaurant Acacia, to the impeccable, professional service which all provided a one of a kind dining experience combined with the exceptional food.
The menu, crafted by Pierre, has been so cleverly planned out it’s impossible to go wrong in your choices of starter and main course combination. I found that everything we tasted that night complemented and matched perfectly with the other items on the menu. It was a celebration of food harmony. From the colors he used, flavors and textures, it all just flowed flawlessly.
The food was cooked by a team of chefs at a live cooking station right in front of us, and it was fun to watch the food being created and carefully crafted to the tee. You could see how each tiny little detail had been thought out. Nothing on the plate was there without it having been inspected by the team of master chefs. What an absolutely delightful experience it was.
Our waiter was attentive and polite without being too intrusive. He explained to us about the dishes and the menu in great detail and I loved his subtle sense of humor.
For starters I had a chicken and avocado salad. Perfectly cooked, tasty and tender chicken with crispy, fresh lettuce. Add cherry tomatoes, pomegranate and pink grapefruit to the mix and what you get is a joyous combination of flavors, colors and textures. I can’t remember what this salad was called but I would name it the Happy Salad. You just can’t be anything other than happy when seeing and tasting this.
For the main course I had pasta, (made on site by the chefs) with Hammour fillet (which I normally avoid in Riyadh because we are living in the middle of the desert and I just don’t trust fish to taste fresh around here). I’m glad the waiter convinced me the experience would be different this time and I ordered the hammour. The fish was cooked just the way I like it, not too dry but still crispy on the outside, soft and tender without having that blandness and sogginess to it that a hammour fillet often does.
My dining buddy ordered the steak and she graciously offered it to me to give it a try. This steak deserves an extra special mention.
If I could, I’d give it a standing ovation. And I normally don’t even eat red meat because I don’t like the taste or consistency of it. My husband is always amused at me when I disapprove of the taste of the steaks he’s having. He insists I try because it’s “so good”. When to me it just tastes like a rubber duck.
But this steak though. It wasn’t a steak. It was some sort of pudding, possibly butter? Because I swear the knife cut through it like it was butter and it melted in my mouth, it just disappeared!
I can’t remember what the steak is called on the menu but let me give this complementary name too. It can’t be anything else than “You Won’t Believe it’s Not Butter-Steak!” or better yet “Le Best Steak in Saudi Arabia”.
So after all this awesomeheit, it’s hard to describe the dessert we had. It wasn’t just one dessert though.
It was a Dessert-Marathon. A four course dessert, ya’ll. Which again was planned and executed to perfection starting from light and bitter flavors gradually changing to tangy, sweet and ending it all with a rich, deep flavor. No joke it was an experience on its own.
You start out with a mint and lemon mousse, this was my least favorite from the four. But it might have something to do with me being too impatient about reaching the last chocolatey piece in the distance.
Next an orange rice-pudding, which is one of my favorite desserts and this one did not disappoint, in fact it excelled my expectations (which are very high when it comes to orange rice pudding). I still remember that orange rice pudding with warmth when I think of it.
Third course, vanilla pudding with sweet caramel sauce. Amazing. At this point I just wanted to get my hands on the crown jewel, the chocolate-mocha-hazelnut mousse with tiny nuts placed immaculately on the top of those little iceberg looking tips of chocolate yumminess.
I am lost for words right now but let’s just say the mousse was so good we ate it in complete silence. Imagine tasting milk chocolate, nutella and an espresso all at once in the form of a fluffy cloud. That would pretty much describe how it tasted.
I LOVED how cleverly the very last thing which you put in your mouth is the rich dark chocolate piece on the bottom of this ridiculously delicious mousse. It sort of seals the tastes in and finishes the dining experience perfectly.
Would I recommend this restaurant? Heck YES. The ultimate romantic date night dinner treat for someone special, and you can even sit outside by the stunning pool. Inside you are surrounded by lovely subtle ambiance, beautiful chandeliers, plush couches and seats, a clean white color palette with a hint of green, to match the colors of the superb cuisine! It doesn’t get much better than this.
So if I had to look for something to improve in this restaurant, it would be difficult. Perhaps a few more additional options on the menu. Music. I would definitely add a live piano player to the corner, but that’s just me and this is Riyadh. Anyways I can’t wait to go back and see if new items are on the menu!
Bon appétit Riyadh!