Restaurant review: House of Grill, Fairmont Riyadh

Bringing all the glamour with none of the stuffiness…

A successful restaurant often relies on a good concept, but essentially, what sets an establishment apart often comes down to the minute details. At House of Grill, cheers are in order for Fairmont Riyadh’s latest steak restaurant and grill house – which opened last November, as the restaurant shines bright beyond its meats.

House of Grill dining room

Behind its glossy façade, guests are transported back in time into the decadent world of the Roaring Twenties. With sparkling chandeliers, walls embellished with black-and-white photographs, and a sultry ambience adorned with lush blues, opulent golds, crushed velvet, and white feather details, House of Grill at Fairmont Riyadh is a preservation of the golden age. It’s like a slice of the mansion from The Great Gatsby.

Taking centre stage, however, is the gorgeous bar, which plays well with shadows and well-placed lighting to give it a mysterious and intimate atmosphere.

House of Grill bar

With the perfect blend of cosiness and ostentatiousness, the air of elegance House of Grill evokes is reminiscent of the opulent parties described in Fitzgerald’s book – perfect with the cuisine Chef Nicolas Isnard (renowned for his Michelin-starred restaurants like La Prieure and Le Vieux Logis) whips up here.

The menu here is straightforward and approachable. We begin our meal with the crispy baby calamari (SAR75). While this is standard fare, our second choice, Croustillant (think crispy samosa), filled with eight-hour braised beef cheeks (SAR70 for three pieces) and served with mint yoghurt dip, really kicks things up a notch.

House of Grill steak

Moving on to the mains, we opt for the 300-gram Black Onyx Angus beef cube roll (SAR285) for the steak. The meat slab arrives on a warmed platter, cooked exactly right on the grill with an extra charred exterior. Well-rested and pre-cut into thick slices, the cube roll is juicy and tender with solid richness to the meat. We enjoy it as it is, although the pepper sauce does add spicy sharpness to the steak.

The steak itself is a good reason to visit House of Grill, but Chef Nicolas has more chops to offer at his Riyadh project. The non-meat dishes are not to be overlooked – the chargrilled jumbo prawns (SAR245) are richly imbued with smoky flavour and are truly an unctuous treat. Spoon some of the spicy coconut sauce over the prawns for a burst of flavours in the mouth.

House of Grill jumbo prawns

Side dishes arrive in small, sharing portions. The truffle fries are excellent. The roasted cauliflower is a little underwhelming, though it could be better if it were crispier and slightly burnt on the outside.

After the mains, you can stop right here, have a drink, and decide whether there is room for dessert. The dessert selection is humble. Those after some excitement may order the tiramisu praline (SAR70) or the pink pavlova (SAR70). But we think staying simple is the key to ordering desserts at House of Grill. The homegrown Nakhati ice cream and sorbet (SAR19 each) would have been a better option – a simple treat worth enjoying as a sweet ending.

Verdict: Even with a great concept, it’s the extra effort to curate and execute a fine dining experience with close attention to details that elevate a restaurant. And despite being located further from the fringes of prime restaurant territory in Riyadh, House of Grill does have a few tables of friends and couples looking like they’re having a grand old time on a Monday night. What’s more, the vibes at the venue inspire long, leisurely evenings. The great interior helps, the attentive service benefits, and the daily live entertainment by the talented cellist Louis Thiele, who provides both classical cello music and her unique high-energy show, is a plus point. Hidden from the realities of the world outside, House of Grill offers a throwback with its unique mix of vintage glamour and modern food and drink, with just enough intrigue to make you consider returning for more.

House of Grill, Fairmont Riyadh, Sun to Fri 12.30pm to 11pm, Business Gate, Qurtubah, Riyadh 11552. Tel: 011 826 2626. @houseofgrillksa

Images: Supplied