International gastronomic delights in new gourmet restaurants in Saudi Arabia
ALKHOBAR: They say good things come in threes, and Alkhobar offers triple opportunities to offer foodies an elegant gastronomic experience while enjoying the sunset on the Corniche this Ramadan.
Almost three years after the lockdown began, these clusters of seaside restaurants opened on Saudi Arabia’s first founding day, aiming to transport diners to three sealed destinations in the Al Matal complex: France on the ground floor, Japan on the second, and Greece on the third .
Following the successful opening of these three remarkable restaurants in February, charismatic chef Marios George and the Cavadore Group offer refined hospitality with enticing options for the holy month of Ramadan. In collaboration with Abdul Aziz Al-Moajil, his brother Saad and their father Mohammed Saad, vice chairman of the Al-Moajil group, they have created another reason for the world to visit Alkhobar.
I kept in mind that these restaurants are in Saudi Arabia and we have a few rules that we should abide by, so I tried to draw inspiration from the country each restaurant is from, and humility along the way and cultural sensitivity of my own country where these restaurants are now located.
Haifa Al-Sudairifashion designer
This Ramadan, take to the streets of Paris with an elegant French-style iftar at Maghrib’s Belgravian Brasserie until 1am. Menus include everything from french toast to fried chicken. For those not observing the fast, the Belgravian Brasserie offers French afternoon tea on weekdays from 2pm to 5pm in a secluded area that has been discreetly designed. They also offer curated Ramadan gift baskets to pre-order such as: alcoholic product” in today’s market.
Break bread at Hellenika from sunset until 20:00. The Iftar menu is served to the table, family style, with pass-through platters presenting a delicious array of Greek and Middle Eastern dishes, including traditional dips, refreshing crunchy salads and hot grills. Between 9:30pm and 1:30am, Hellenika hosts a convivial Sahoor, featuring an a la carte menu of popular Greek dishes and traditional live music that captures the spirit of the season. The restaurant is inspired by the Greek islands and the Aegean Sea.
Cavadore Group’s acclaimed Japanese restaurant, Nozomi, offers an enchanting Ramadan retreat, decorated with lanterns, candles and flower arrangements that honor this holy month. Open only to Sahoor, the restaurant offers foodies the chance to sample tempting offerings from 9:30pm to 2:30am. Nozomi was chosen because of this generation’s love for structured Japanese dining.
All restaurants are considered to be at the higher end of the price range. They also have rooms for private events, which are popular with Aramco employees and loved ones, as well as birthday parties.
“I went to Saudi Arabia in 2011 and saw how passionate everyone was and thought, let’s set up a restaurant here,” chef George told Arab News. “I’m a big believer in ‘build it and they will come.’ I think Alkhobar is a very important city. They have some huge industries there. They have some fabulous big families.”
George said he was impressed with the “sophisticated palate” in Alkhobar because it borders Bahrain with its many fine restaurants and is just a drive from Riyadh. Until these restaurants opened, foodies had to travel to other places to get their fix. Now it’s in her backyard.
“We can do great things in Saudi. In London we have to get things done in smaller places; 600 square meters is considered a large restaurant in London, right? Here we have built three restaurants of 1,200 square meters each. That sets a pattern for the region. It’s not just about money. If it makes a statement, we bring something that contributes to the culture, which is the richness of the region,” George said.
Long before work began on the design of the restaurants, the company strategically built the infrastructure by creating a company that initially imported certain products, such as the olive oil, which comes from an olive oil plantation in Greece, which is considered the No. 1 olive oil in the world in the last five years. This allowed them to take a strong position to ensure continuity of experience and quality control so customers could enjoy consistent excellence on the plate with every visit.
Next, they set up an academy in Alkhobar to educate Saudis, especially women who want to work in the hospitality industry. They will offer support and resources so eager Saudis in the region can acquire the skills they need.
“We will open in Riyadh soon. But my father mentioned that if I wanted to start a business I would have to start in the Eastern Province because we live here. We love the city and we love the people. So we need to expand our city before we expand other cities in Saudi Arabia,” Abdul Aziz told Arab News.
“As President and CEO, it would not have been possible without the support of my father and brother Saad. They believe in my goal — it’s a family community,” he said.
True to Alkhobar’s roots, all the elegant attire worn by the ladies at the reception is designed by local fashion designer Haifa Al-Sudairi.
“When I started designing, I asked the owners to send in their renderings and color schemes – everything from A to Z. I kept in mind that these restaurants are in Saudi Arabia and we have a few rules that we follow should, so I’ve tried to draw inspiration from the country each restaurant hails from while also considering the humility and cultural sensibility of my own country these restaurants are now located in. I am very honored to have designed the reception attire for these wonderful restaurants and so proud that we have such offerings in our dear city of Alkhobar,” said Al-Sudairi.
In line with the topic of family and community building, the organizers hold a monthly high tea, where they invite a well-known woman from the region to an interview. Al-Sudairi will be the first woman in this series of talks when it starts after Eid.