Thursday, 6 October 2011

Zodiac Cuisine Restaurant Jeddah : A Review

Zodiac is a fine-dining restaurant offering an array of international cuisine. I’ve been to Zodiac quite a few times, and every time I go, I think I’ll write a review this time, and then-I forget. Well, here is my recent experience for your reading pleasure. We arrived at nine, and as soon as we entered the foyer, of the building, we were struck by the ambience, decor and the iconic zodiac logo showcasing the zodiac signs.The woman's touch is obvious, as the eyes drink in the aesthetically pleasing surroundings; including even the bathroom, which would not look out of space in a spa.   

We sat outside while we waited for the rest our party to arrive. At that time, the temperature was still warm, and there was no breeze, but we decided to stay in our spot to enjoy the view of the Jeddah’s Corniche fountain. We informed, the eager waiters that we would wait for the rest of our party, before we ordered. We were politely informed that the minimum charge would SR120pp. We were offered complimentary welcome drinks in baseless sand beach champagne glasses, another pleasant touch.

As our party was quite delayed, we ordered our drinks. After another half an hour of staring at the stunning meals displaced on the slideshow on the flat screen we decided to order, and remind the waiters that we were still waiting for the drinks. We also told them to bill 2 of our party separately as they would be leaving early. 

Once we ordered, the bread basket arrived, and we all devoured the tasty bread with its accompaniments, while the mosquitoes took to feeding on us. I suggest due to Jeddah’s weather and presence of unwelcome insect guests Zodiac should acquire some fans. Those of wearing sandals were quite distracted by the itching and decided to retreat indoors, the waiters were very understanding and refilled our bread trays and moved our drinks. The drinks however, were a bit disappointing. I ordered a fresh kiwi juice, and what I got was milky faintly green drink which tasted like coconut milk with kiwi syrup. I found the taste and appearance unexpected yet cooling, so I decided not to complain-but whatever it was it wasn’t freshly made kiwi juice. It was altered beyond recognition. Maybe they strained it and took all nutritional fibre out and then added flavour enhancers. The pina colada was a hit. One of the ladies ordered a melon juice without ice, because she was suffering from a cold, and but the waiter failed to mention that the drink would still be very cold as the melon itself was frozen! 

The main courses arrived and we all dug in. Fifteen minutes later, quite a few people were looking disappointed and playing with their food. The common complaint was blandness, and that the food had been better when they had initially opened up. The lady that had ordered a steak felt it had ‘no taste’, as well as the lady who’d ordered a simple pepperoni pizza. 

I’d ordered Chicken Polo Picante, which is grilled chicken breast with a tangy sauce served with steamed vegetables and a side of rice. I’d ordered this dish a couple times before and had been very pleased with the outcome. However, this time I felt the chef had forgotten some key spice/herb, the sauce lacked the kick, which was the reason I’d ordered it. I sampled another main, a creamy pasta dish which incorporated pasta dumpling stuffed with mashed potatoes and then baked. This dish was available with the option of being served with a tomato sauce; but the waiter forgot to ask my friend which option she wanted. It was an innovative dish, but once the novelty wore off you realised what you were eating was very heavy, and an additional ingredient was required to cut the sheer creaminess of the dish.

Another interesting main dish was the North Sea Delight. This dish included baked mashed potato stuffed with tender hammour and prawn with hint of rosemary and garlic. I think this dish although too heavy to be eaten by one person, was an ideal dish to share. It had the right combination of creaminess and zest.

Next was the fabulous gourmet dessert, the mille feuille. It was served beautifully, and was a combination of crisp layers of pastry, lush vanilla filling and freshly sliced strawberries. 

To clear our palettes we ended with the sorbet, our flavours of choice were rose, champagne, and mango. This was served with a mini-light that alternated between different fluorescent colours, illuminating the sorbet in an almost magically ethereal light. The rose flavour was divine, the champagne heavenly and the mango invigorating. 

There was a slight confusion at the time of the bill, as the waiter had forgotten to separate it as instructed but quickly made amends.

 To sum up I would say the ambience, decor, and desserts are extremely satisfying. The chef has either changed or needs some encouragement to draw on a range of herbs/ingredients to create mains that indulge the taste buds with something other than creaminess.

Price range:
Drinks from SR19
Pasta from SR 50
Steaks/Seafood SR75
Sorbet SR18
Mille fueille SR 52

The SR120 is appropriate if you plan on having a full dinner, but you will get ripped off if you just want to chill with a drink, dessert and shisha combo.

Do like my review at Jeddah's favourite foodie site Jeddah Food,  it will published shortly- I hope!

Photo credit: HS

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