This isn’t somewhere we’re going to rush back to, mostly because we’re not intending to rush back to Saudi Arabia. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting record for the culture more than the food. Il Terrazzo is within the Al Faisaliah Hotel [A Rosewood Hotel] in Riyadh, overlooking a landscaped terrace where the atmosphere is made bearable all the year round by means of mist sprays, which cool and humidify the air. It’s unusual in that the dining isn’t gender separated. Progress in some small form?
Open air – it may be the city but it’s still just a harder form of desert – it only opens from 8pm to midnight. The food is based on a Brazilian barbecue theme, where a selection of meats [beef, lamb, goat, camel, venison, buffalo etc] and fish [including lobster and langoustines] are cooked on large skewers. You’re served with a small portion from the huge skewers, one meat at a time. You’re given a token – red on one side, green on the other – to place at the side of your plate. You start green-side up [could be Ireland] and when you can’t eat anymore, you turn it red side up. When we turned ours red side up, our host turned it back again. Apparently we hadn’t tried everything. And then there were the desserts…
As it was February, it was only about 25 degrees, so before we sat down at the table we were each kitted out in a full-length fur coat to keep the chill away…I think mine was tiger.
Restaurant Il Terrazzo, Riyadh
As one who lives in Saudi, I know how difficult it is to get visitors into the country, even family. I’m just curious as to how you managed, and where you explored while in Riyadh. I really enjoy reading your blog, we are considering visiting Egypt and I’ve found your entries on that topic really helpful.
We were working in Saudi Arabia as consultants to the Ministry of Health, rebuilding a series of thirteen 1970s/80s hospitals across the Kingdom. Although we had an office base in Riyadh, our hospitals were elsewhere in the Kingdom – so only really explored a few restaurants whilst visiting. A couple of hospitals were about 100k north of Riyadh, but the majority were in the south west in the mountains or near the Red Sea[Abha, Al Namas, Jizan etc], including Farasan Island. We also did a hospital in Sharorah near the Yemen border. Very interesting culture and friendly and hospitable people. You’re right though, getting in is very difficult but were were teamed up with a Saudi company who managed all the logistics. Still long waits at the airport in Riyadh if we had a “new visa”! Do go to Egypt – we loved it – especially the boat and the guest house in Luxor – much better than the big hotels! We felt quite safe, despite the reports.
Ah, I see, you were working here. That makes all the difference. It’s tourist visas that are impossible to get. We’ve just been to Egypt and absolutely loved it btw.
Traditional dahabieh cruise, small offbeat hotels, and amazing history. We had no problems with being hasseled, perhaps because we’re used to it living in the middle east, and tend to deal with it pretty pragmatically.
Just looked at a few entries on your blog – wonderful photographs – so atmospheric of the market in Aswan. We didn’t spot many tourists either?