In this second of the two-part series reviewing the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, we’ll now be focusing on the breakfast buffet at Al Orjouan restaurant.
The phrase “buffet at the Ritz” presents quite the dichotomy to cynics. Buffets are usually thought of as lacking in quality, whereas Ritz-Carltons’ are anything but. In short, Al Orjouan exists to prove that you can have good food in addition to great variety.
A short backgrounder about the hotel‘s choice of dining establishments— colors are a main theme. Although I only ate at Al Orjouan (meaning “purple” in Arabic) and the Chorisia Lounge, they also have Azzurro (blue) for Italian, Hong (red) for Chinese, the Turquoise Lounge, and soon, a sweets shop selling housemade baklava and Western desserts. Walking around each of those eateries, you’ll see that the individual restaurant names also influenced the respective interiors and table settings.
Focusing on Al Orjouan, I had a nice chat with Emilio, the manager, on both days of my visit. He was telling me about how, in addition to the breakfast buffet, his restaurant also offers a Friday brunch, as well as themed meals every now and then. Furthermore, the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh will be expanding Al Orjouan’s footprint by creating an outdoors souk (local market)-themed atmosphere replete with significantly more seating options and freshly-grilled meats:
So many words, and not enough pictures. OK, I give in…let’s take a look at some of the many foods from which to choose:
Many residents of the Middle East/East Africa start their days with ful medames, or cooked fava beans with olive oil and garlic. Depending on where you’re from, the beans may come mashed or whole, with or without tomatoes and tahini, and with or without sumac (Syrian-style). Indeed, Mazen, one of the head chefs, is an affable Syrian man who hopes to introduce to Al Orjouan patrons more food from his homeland.
A buffet-staple- the omelette bar.
Bread. On a side note, if I ever open a theme park, I’d call it “Glutenia.”
I mentioned to Emilio that there weren’t enough regional breakfast options, besides the ful. Although he pointed this section – with hummus, labne, and stuffed grape leaves -out to me, how many more things would there realistically be? Shakshouka, perhaps?
Oh? Smoked fish? Now, things can get interesting…could I have a New York moment in Riyadh?
Hah! A nigella seed-bagel with lox (smoked salmon), cream cheese, capers, and red onions (missing). Sweet.
The soon-to-be upgraded juice bar. While we’re on the topic of drinks…
Al Orjouan and the Chorisia Lounge are known for their signature beverages. Clockwise from the center, we have the Desert Rose with pomegranate syrup, rose water, and honey; the Spiced Tea Punch with masala chai, cinnamon, and Saudi acacia honey; an orange and ginger juice I ordered from the juice bar; Green 600, with green apple, cucumber, and spinach juice, and an olive syrup “ice cube” in the middle (the 600 comes from the centuries-old olive tree in the hotel courtyard); and Arabic Garden, with ginger, carrot, and orange, honey, and lemon juice.
Legumes, nuts, and dried fruits.
Fruit. I’m usually at this stage by the tenth plate.
Local sweets. Halawa/halva is extremely filling, so I recommend investing in a second stomach specifically for this section of the buffet.
Dates. You may recall that I emphasized date consumption while in Saudi Arabia. The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh did not disappoint…you see, I expressed interest in trying a variety of dates, and the good folks at Al Orjouan arranged a sample box for me:
Even if Ajwa is the most renowned type of date, I still have to hand it to the more familiar Mejdool. Still, if the only competition I ever won was a lifetime supply of a similar box of dates, I wouldn’t complain.
Shukran gazilan again to the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh and its Al Orjouan restaurant for hosting me earlier this month. Overall, it was a great trip, and if I’m ever in town again, sign me up for a date tree plantation visit…in addition to another buffet breakfast!
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