All is more than OK at this KAFD hotspot putting an elevated twist on day-to-night dining.
Dubai has DIFC, London has Canary Wharf, New York has Wall Street and Riyadh has KAFD. The Saudi capital’s King Abdullah Financial District is home to towering office buildings and a selection of upmarket dining destinations, including global imports such as Black Tap, Il Baretto and the soon-to-open Amazónico, SUSHISAMBA and Zuma.
Hailing from London, A.O.K. Kitchen is a cool and casual venue with an elevated twist on day-to-night dining. The cosmopolitan restaurant can be found nestled amidst the glittering skyscrapers of Riyadh’s KAFD and offers everything from coffee and desserts to breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes.
For the uninitiated, the chic London-based dining concept was founded by second-generation restaurateur Kelly Landesberg in 2019 and rapidly gained recognition for its refined menu, much of it gluten- and dairy-free and all of it free from refined sugar.
A.O.K. Kitchen in the Saudi capital is a little tricky to locate, as it is situated down in the wadi rather than at street level. Just keep an eye out for the pretty navy blue awnings overflowing with pink bougainvillaea. Upon entry, the space is expectedly Instagrammble with patterned wallpaper, floral upholstery, plenty of mirrors and blossoming trees stretching across the dining room.
Incidentally, A.O.K stands for ‘All is Okay’, translating to the brand’s philosophy of curating a feel-good dining experience that accommodates everyone – puppies and small dogs included. As the only pet-friendly restaurant in Riyadh, your pawed pals are welcome on the terrace.
Visiting for lunch, we are able to bridge both the breakfast and à la carte menu, allowing a full exploration of the A.O.K. offering, which includes everything from fluffy French toast and shakshuka to stacks of pancakes topped with Chantilly cream.
The menu offers an appealing selection of wholesome dishes inspired by the sun-soaked shores of the Mediterranean and California. This is evident in dishes such as the creamy Burratina (SAR 96) served with seasonal tomatoes of varying sizes and colours. It’s a plate reminiscent of a European summer, where the cool Italian cheese creates a nice juxtaposition against the acidity of the tomatoes. Doused in a generous drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, it’s a stellar dish and a seemingly popular choice.
Whilst mains run the gauntlet of salads, grilled chicken, lamb chops and veal scaloppine. We find ourselves drawn to the homemade Truffle Gnocchi (SAR 154). The plump potato dumplings arrive adorned with a generous shaving of the elusive Italian truffle, whilst a creamy sauce made from Parmesan and grape molasses brings an unexpected sweetness to proceedings. The resulting dish is a moreish marvel.
A.O.K. has become synonymous with its freshly brewed coffee (traced with the brand’s logo in the foam) and decadent desserts. Not wanting to miss out on a sweet treat, we delve into the signature Cheesecake (SAR 75), which offers a thick pistachio base, smooth and light tonka filling and sour cherry to cut through the sweetness.
Mixing charming service with heartwarming comfort food and an alluring beverage list, AOK Riyadh offers a winning formula that appears to have captured the hearts (and tummies) of Riyadh residents.
GO: Visit www.aokkitchen.co.uk/ae/aok-riyadh for more information.