It was thanks to @nomanaksamia that we were invited to review @vanilleksa in the city of Al Khobar and joining us was @thefoodiemama.rin and @foodingmyselfaround. It had been a few months since I last saw them, no thanks to Covid-19. We were greeted by the Head Chef and author of his own book ‘The Islander Chef’, Adam Schihab who hails from the island nation of Maldives. It was under his guidance that @vanilleksa finally opened it’s doors in 2020.
I had only heard of this joint after receiving the invitation and we were in for a real treat.
We were served a refreshing welcome drink with fresh basil and lime being the main ingredients. We were told that the food would be brought in batches for us to taste and review, all chose by the Chef.
The bread basket came with tiny servings of butter and the chef was quick to point out that the bread was prepared in house and it shows.
The ‘Chef’s Salad’ was first to be served and comes with tender strips of grilled beef, coriander, carrot, pomegranate, avocado, grilled corn being some of the ingredients and comes with a tangy dressing. I love the pecan, romaine and beef combination and this is a great way to kick start your pre-meal.
The ‘Arabiata-chick’ Napolitana Pizza really won me over with it’s unique mix of flavours. The pesto chicken is the highlight of the pizza but the roasted chickpea adds a unique twist to this beautifully baked pizza. The basil is fresh and the mozzarella creamy and I wouldn’t have a problem finishing this on my own.
The ‘Espetada Chicken’ may sound familiar to you if you’ve been to Nandos and this tasted nothing like it. The chicken was a lot more tender and I loved the spice rub that spiked the flavour of the chicken. Coupled with grilled veggies, a drizzle of piri peri and Saffron rice its best had all piled onto a spoon.
The ‘Chicken Burger’ is alright but what’s really unique about this is the ‘Saffron Potato Bun’ which is quite savoury and prepared in house and quite unlike the usual potato buns. The fried patty was tender but could have done without the large slice of lettuce.
The ‘Vanille Beef Fillet Mignon’ had to be my favourite of the lot. I like my steak medium rare, but this was more a medium well, but not too dry. Seasoned with black pepper it comes served with grilled veggies, appetising lyonnaise potatoes topped with caramelised onions and a rosemary Demi-glaze sauce that should be used in moderation if you don’t want to overpower the flavour of the steak. The steak is priced quite high but looking at how good it tastes, I wouldn’t mind forking a few extra riyals.
Vanille is known more for their desserts than their food and we had the opportunity to try some of their pastries which we quite enjoyed. We tried the ‘Cappuccino Doce Praline Slice’, ‘Gateau Royal’, ‘Praline Gold Eclair’ and some of the macaroons. They are a tad bit expensive but it is something of an experience indulging in something truly magical.
I helped myself to their ‘Passion Fruit Iced Tea’ which was quite refreshing and a great way to cool down after a long day out.
The tour of the kitchen really brought things into perspective. All the equipment used at the store were imported and you will find everything a restaurant requires here. The flour used for the pizza, bread and pasta are imported from France and Italy and explains what made the pizza and bread stand out. They have taken extra precautions to implement health and hygiene protocols in these testing times.
Thank you so much ‘Vanille’ for the wonderful experience and Chef Adam for taking the time for explain how a restaurant of such standards are run.