Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Breakfast In Riyadh: PAUL's Restaurant And Bakery

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 for relatively affordable prices. One of the newest additions is PAUL restaurant and bakery on Tahlia street.
For those who don't know, 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.
When you enter the Riyadh branch you will immediately see the bakery behind the big glass windows and all the delicious pastries, cakes and breads for sale. Lots of people stop by here just to take away the freshly made breads. It's a good idea to arrive early on weekend mornings because the most popular options are sold out by 10 am.
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.
Some mouth watering specialties form the bakery; the olive foccacia bread and the different kinds of brioche.
These remind me of the Finnish pulla!
Another reminder from Finland, my mother makes blueberry pie that looks just like this one!
This cake looks amazing.  It was called chocolate macaroon cake. I actually ordered a slice of this but got something else pretty funny served to me. Read on to find out what happened..That means also I have to go back just for this!
Croissants! Plain, cheese and zaatar. Perfectly crisp outer layer with a soft and delicious inside.
Freshly baked breads and baguettes.
PAUL has the cutest high chairs for kids I have ever seen! Check out these little cuties! So sophisticated!

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 anything especially 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:
An upside down cake?

I flipped it over the right way and it looked much better. It wasn't what I had asked for, but I decided to keep it to avoid further confusion with the waiters.
The taste was much better than the appearance, which looks a little bit dry. I can say this chocolate cake was far from dry! It was heavenly! So smooth and rich in chocolate flavor, yet not overly sweet and I was able to finish it easily. Would be even better with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream.
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.

Star ratings:
Overall: ***1/2
Ambiance: ***
Food: ****
Decor: ***
Service: ***
Value For Money: *****
Kid Friendliness: **
Romance Factor: ****


Unknown said...

After reading the detailed review, i think its a MUST GO place...
A very nice Review ..
Keep Up the Good Work.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

It looks like this place is a work in progress.

My Own Fairytale said...

hmmm the food looks yummie.

XO Arezu

Muhammad ali Sohail said...

Seems like a place to visit at least once. Though m lucky to have a delicious breakfast buffet being served in office cafe daily (except Friday). It doesn’t offer that much variety but still i am certain that you'll love the course and soft croissants if i get a chance to take you in.

Anonymous said...

Sorry totally disagree. Went there a few weeks ago and had a sandwich. It was awful. And it hurt even more because it was very expensive.

Noor said...

I am so glad that you reviewed this bc I have been waiting on them to open and we saw they were last night and were thinking about going. I do not know if you know the cafe called La Madeline its a french style one in the states and by far my favorite place to go so I am excited YAY.

Anonymous said...

Paul is supposed to open here in Khobar as well. I just hope the quality is better than what it has become back home in France. Their breads & salads are not as good as they used to be. Will give them a go nevertheless as it will remind me of home.

Vonnel said...

Owww, do they have the macaroons, thank you for posting this one. I will be a fan of your blog from now. Your blog is a site to watch.

Layla said...

Hi Vonnel, yes they have macaroons too!

Anonymous said...

I ordered that chocolate cake at Paul in Dubai and it was also served to me upside down. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be served?

Unknown said...

Great review with attention to detail.
Well done & thank you!!