One of the nicest things to do in Riyadh during the weekends is having breakfast out. There are many places around town to enjoy a great start for the day with a cup of coffee and delicious breakfast for relatively affordable prices. One of the newest additions to Riyadh’s breakfast scene is PAUL restaurant and bakery on Tahlia street. For those who are not familiar with this restaurant, PAUL is a famous French patisserie and bakery founded back in 1889 and ever since they have been cherishing their recipes for home made fresh breads and other produce. PAUL has branches all over the world and this one is the second one in KSA, there will later be PAUL’s branches in some of Riyadh’s malls and int he Eastern province. Update: PAUL has now opened branches in Hayat mall and Nakheel Mall in Riyadh. For more Riyadh restaurant reviews click here.
PAUL opens at 8 am every morning and the breakfast is served until 12 pm on all days except Fridays when they close a little bit earlier, around 11. They open back up again for lunch at 1pm.
We arrived at PAUL on a Friday morning at 9.30 am, thinking we are early birds..Wrong! The place was already bustling with life and most of the tables were full. The restaurant has three adjacent sections to sit in the family section and also a small outside terrace, but they told us it’s closed.
Paul’s signature black and white checkered floor greets the visitors at the door and continues onto the first dining space which has the feel of a cafe somewhere in France. The other two areas in the back seem more like living rooms with plush chairs, sofas, paintings hanging on the walls and chandeliers. The look is typical to the other PAUL branches, although perhaps not as cozy and the attention to detail is not quite the same. Nevertheless the look in PAUL is something very different and refreshing in Riyadh.
The menu is pretty simple, they have three different breakfast packages all include choice of hot beverage, freshly squeezed orange juice and additionally choice of one viennoisserie and omelette. The full breakfast with all proponents is 59sar. I was disappointed that my favorites, pancakes, crepes or french toast were not on the menu. They didn’t have any especially designed menu items for kids either.
We ordered two set menus and some hash browns for the side order. The waiters were all friendly looked very French in their outfits, although all were from the Philippines :) The service was a little bit slow and sometimes forgetful and they seemed to be lacking coordination between the staff. They brought a complimentary basket of freshly baked breads which all looked delicious, but they came to the table cold. My husband thought that since this is a bakery, all the bread should be served warm so he requested for the bread to be warmed but the waiter forgot to bring the basket back.
I wanted to try the famous Paul’s Pain Au Chocolate for my viennoisserie choice but they said only cheese and zaatar croissant were available, they had ran out of the other options. We ordered one zaatar and one cheese croissant. Another waiter brought us two cheese croissants. Again, they were cold and we asked them to be warmed for us. They came back quickly and are served with PAUL’s own butter and strawberry jam. The croissants were perfect, crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. Easy to break pieces off and not the chewy kind you sometimes get.
After a while they brought the omelet and hash browns. The omelet was was OK, but nothing special. The hash browns were absolutely lovely, very crunchy outer layer with a flavorful inside, both omelets and hash browns were served hot.
I was surprised that they didn’t bring everything to the table at the same time, for example we had to ask for our coffees to be served because there was no sign of them although we had gotten all the food already. The coffees were both good and were accompanied by a cute little sponge cake.
I went to take some photos from the bakery side and decided to order slices of the irresistible blueberry pie and the above pictured macaroon cake, both 19sar. They told me to go back to the table and the cakes would be brought there.
After 15 minutes with no sign of them, we asked the waiter and they brought this to the table:
I flipped it over the right way and it looked much better for the picture. It wasn’t what I had asked for, but I decided to keep it to avoid further confusion with the waiters.
The Blueberry pie was equally delicious. It tasted very similar to the one my mother makes in the summer from fresh berries picked from the nearby forest. The blueberries in the filling were fresh and plentiful, it was creamy but light and perfectly sweet for my taste buds. The extremely thin crust was not to my liking but my husband liked it very much (although he remembered to say my mom’s is much better). This would be great with that vanilla ice cream too!
The restaurant has these ceiling to floor windows which are blackened from the outside but you can see out from them. This means also that the restaurant will become very hot and uncomfortable inside. After five minutes of sitting near the windows we had to ask for the A/C to be turned on because we were really sweltering in our winter clothing. After a while it got better, but it still felt somewhat suffocating.
As polite and friendly the staff was, I feel they would still need some additional training and a little bit more attentiveness.
Value For Money: *****
Kid Friendliness: ***
Romance Factor: ****