FACT Review: LPM Restaurant & Café Riyadh
FACT’s Editor-in-chief marks his first trip to KSA with a visit to LPM Restaurant & Café for a leisurely lunch in the heart of the Saudi capital.
Touch down Riyadh. My first trip to Saudi Arabia saw me scouting out the best restaurants, the coolest coffee shops and significant Saudi-owned hotspots. But this task came with the caveat of finding a suitable candidate for FACT’s first-ever restaurant review in Riyadh. The pressure was on me to find something relevant and exciting, an establishment that had resonated with diners in Riyadh. Should I pick a homegrown success story or a global import making waves across the capital’s competitive dining scene? Naturally, I asked for recommendations, and surprisingly everyone from my young Saudi Uber driver to the hotel concierge and my PR contacts suggested one place, and one place only: LPM Restaurant & Café Riyadh.
LPM in Riyadh is located in the desirable Al Olaya neighbourhood and lies beneath the impressive structure of the Al Faisaliah Hotel. Marked by red awnings that drape seductively over the entranceway, the upmarket restaurant provides the illusion of a European street transported into the heart of the Middle East.
The experience remains similar whether dining in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London or Miami. A beautiful dining room decorated in neutral tones of cream and brilliant whites sets the tone for a sophisticated luncheon supported by snappy service and a Magnifique menu.
Passing over the threshold marked by the unmistakable LPM logo in an alluring font, my visit to LPM in the capital happens to be on the cusp of their first anniversary, and I’m immediately impressed by just how busy the restaurant is on a weekday lunchtime.
The dining room features immaculately pressed tablecloths and glistening silverware, whilst tables are adorned with bottles of olive oil, plump tomatoes and fresh lemons. Yet the restaurant boasts a playful charm with vibrant artworks bringing pops of colour to the distinctly Parisian space. Off to one side lies a statement bar, and to the other lies the kitchen, which is a constant hub of activity during my visit.
I would suggest you linger at the bar, for no visit to LPM is complete without trying their signature Tomatini, an exciting beverage comprising muddled fresh tomatoes and white balsamic vinegar finished off with a touch of salt and pepper.
As the home of French Mediterranean cuisine in the Saudi capital, LPM relies firmly on fresh seasonal ingredients. While the hors d’oeuvre section of the menu offers some appealing choices, I’m immediately drawn to the burrata et tomates (SAR 129) and the escargots de Bourgogne (SAR 145). Old habits die hard.
The snails should be an easy signifier of the quality of any French restaurant and LPM’s interpretation of the gastropods is delightful. Stuffing the shells with garlic and parsley butter brings additional subtleties to the dish’s flavour profile. The burrata is both creamy and buttery, beautifully offset by the acidity of the tomato and balsamic dressing. Whilst the menu replicates the Dubai offering, aside from a handful of dishes, I cannot help but order the crevettes tièdes à l’huile d’olive (SAR 124). A personal favourite that combines warm prawns with a moreish olive and lemon juice sauce.
For the main course, I selected the filet de boeuf (SAR 398), a notable choice thanks to the harissa marinade that tops the perfectly cooked beef. Served with an unassuming but potent Chimichurri Sauce, the textures and tastes of the plate complement each other exceptionally well, especially when combined with the creamy gratin dauphinoise that I would have happily eaten as a main course on its own.
I resist the urge to order LPM’s feather-light and silky smooth gâteau au fromage frais in favour of a dessert designed exclusively for the Saudi market. The signature date cake is gloriously indulgent and beautifully prepared but ultimately proves a little too sweet for my palate.
Having garnered continually strong reviews in the ten years since opening in Dubai’s DIFC, LPM has accomplished the admirable feat of expanding globally whilst maintaining consistency in both food and service. The behemoth French dining spot, affectionately referred to as LPM by its legion of fans, has picked up numerous FACT Awards across its two UAE venues and is now the talk of the Saudi capital.
As one of the most exciting openings in Riyadh in recent memory, LPM Restaurant & Café should be cherished and applauded.
GO: Visit https://lpmrestaurants.com/riyadh/ for reservations and more information.