Inside Scott’s, the strikingly elegant restaurant at Via Riyadh
What’s On secures a sought-after spot at Scott’s to sample its world-class seafood…
Having been on our radar for a while now, Scott’s hotly anticipated debut in Saudi Arabia has officially opened its doors in Via Riyadh. And it is well worth the wait.
Walking through the frontage of Scott’s, staff greet you like an old friend and present you with the evening’s first (and certainly not last) hard choice: to take an aperitif at the iconic bar or your table.
There is no wrong choice, of course, but with the alluring old-world glamour decor, surrounded by dark wood walls, modern artwork, and pristine plump burgundy dining chairs, going straight to your table is the easy choice.
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Expansive booths snake around the restaurant floor, with deep-green leather banquettes huddled up in intimate corners. Natural tones of dark timber panels, marble slabs and jellyfish chandelier embellish the lavish setting. A chic and lavish crustacean bar – the focal point of the strikingly elegant restaurant – adds to the sense that you’re someplace special.
The amply-sized dining room is almost empty at 7.30pm on a Thursday night but quickly fills up with happy diners over the course of the night. The tables are roomy and spaced far enough apart to give diners privacy from other conversations. Plan a date night or take friends here for catch-ups where you know the conversation will be flowing. It’s a place to spend some real quality time with your dinner partner(s) that night.
For those seeking a truly spectacular dining experience, Scott’s private dining room treats up to 12 guests. It is so discreet that you wouldn’t know it was there until guided by the staff to a door at the back of the main dining space. For a small room, the décor is palatial with statement features, including an illuminated green, semi-precious agate stone that resembles an exotic coral reef and panels of gilded and painted glass mirrors.
And just like the institution in Mayfair, the fine dining fare of choice at Scott’s is seafood. The menu cleaves to the ocean’s choicest offerings, with molluscs, crustacea and caviar all well-represented.
We start with a dozen Gillardeau oysters (SAR890) served with shallot vinegar and Asian oyster dressing. We want to deride the oysters for their price, but it’s difficult when they are full of meat and flavour and have a uniquely chewy texture, underlined by the scent of the sea and a soft nutty taste. After all, oysters are the house speciality.
This is followed by seabass and prawn ceviche (SAR155) with pops of mango, sweet corn and yuzu – a svelte and buttery dish garnished with fried plantains that we use to inhale every last bite.
Another standout is the griddled, meaty red sea prawns (SAR270) that lie atop green papaya salsa and chilli jam, teasing out the sweetness of the shellfish. Next is the spicy salmon tartare with avocado, chilli and garlic dressing (SAR115) and octopus carpaccio with pickled fennel and chilli (SAR110) – each is stellar in its own way.
We close out the starters with the twice-baked cheddar souffle with black truffles (SAR125) – it’s mercifully light and mousse-like and is swiftly devoured, for who could say no to cheese?
For mains, we have the miso salmon (SAR210) – softly pink on the inside, with a blackened charcoal exterior and a pleasing tang to it all, as well as the Thermidor lobster (SAR380 for half) – a dish that feels both subtle and indulgent all at once.
Besides serving the finest fish and shellfish dishes, Scott’s also offers meat and game options like the Australian Wagyu striploin with Asian mushrooms and wasabi ponzu dressing (SAR480) and crispy duck with watermelon, Asian herbs, hoisin dressing and spiced cashews (SAR230).
Save some room for a dessert or two. Smiles will become a series of surprised expressions once you have a spoonful of the Paris-Brest (SAR75) served with pistachio ice cream and hot chocolate sauce. Don’t sleep on the tart and light strawberry cheesecake (SAR95) either, which is as pretty as it is refreshing. The selection of handmade petit fours (we particularly like the lemon madeleine) makes for an uplifting end to an indulgent meal.
Verdict: Scott’s takes you (and your account balance) deep beneath the sea. That’s not to say Scott’s dishes are no good. In fact, they are stellar. The signature drinks are compelling and executed well. The kitchen excels at seafood. And the atmosphere exudes urbane sophistication. This place is polished with a capital P, so just remember that when the bill arrives.