Felicity Glover discovers a quiet neighbourhood café serving up classic European food deep in the heart of Al Mouj Muscat.
A few months ago, we were walking around Al Mouj Muscat with a friend visiting from Abu Dhabi when I noticed there were a couple of new restaurants about to open. Even better, they were away from the hustle and bustle of the development’s very popular pedestrian street, The Walk, which can get crowded at weekends.
They hadn’t yet opened but it looked as though it wouldn’t be long before they were ready to throw open their doors.
And so it was on a recent Friday afternoon that I thought it was about time we returned in the hope we could get a late afternoon lunch – or early dinner (yes, it was just after 5pm!).
Situated in Marsa 1, a short walk from the pedestrian street, we found that Richoux was open for business, while the other eatery – a burger joint – was still being fitted out. This made our choice that little bit easier.
We were greeted warmly at the door and entered a dining room that was rich in a tapestry of colours and that old European café/bistro feel. We had our choice of tables and decided on a comfortable booth at the far end of the room.
This is the second Richoux outlet to open in Muscat – the first, in Opera Galleria, has been operating since 2013, while this one officially opened in June.
The menus arrived quickly and it didn’t take long for us (Y’s Art Director, Matt, and my daughter, Cia) to make our choices – I hadn’t eaten all day so was keen to get the show on the road, so to speak.
Richoux is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner so the menu is quite large. Many dishes have an Italian or French influence but there are also some Middle Eastern touches.
I plumped for the chicken bruschetta and my usual sparkling water while Matt settled for the croque-madame and a raspberry and strawberry smoothie. Cia was a little more indecisive and was having trouble deciding between three dishes. In the end, she chose the seafood risotto with a cream sauce and a Tropicana mocktail.
Our drinks were served quickly, with Matt and Cia both declaring their beverages delicious. We were also served a complimentary basket of thinly sliced, toasted bread and an olive tapenade. It was a nice touch, although the tapenade was a little bland.
Our meals arrived not long after. The servings were very generous so it was a good thing we were hungry.
My chicken bruschetta was nestled on top of two halves of a brown baguette. Mixed with Dijon mustard and gooey, melted cheddar cheese on top, it was the ultimate in comfort food. The tender, juicy morsels of chicken were complemented by the sweet tang of the mustard while the cheese added a sharp bite and the texture of the toasted baguette gave it a much-needed crunch. It came with hand-cut French fries, which were polished off by Cia, and a salad of crisp leaves, cucumber and tomato.
Meanwhile, Matt was transported back to a long-ago visit to Switzerland thanks to his croque-madame, which came complete with a fried egg on top. Layered between two slices of perfectly grilled bread, he found the combination of béchamel sauce, turkey bacon and cheddar and Gruyere cheese a perfect balance despite the richness of the dish. A crunchy side salad and those delicious hand-cut fries also offset the richness.
Cia was in heaven with her creamy seafood risotto, which was served with plump pink prawns, fish and calamari. She polished it off in no time and declared her favourite part of the dish was the crispy fish strips. The risotto was cooked to al dente perfection, as was the seafood.
Richoux is a classic neighbourhood café/bistro overlooking the marina area. When we were there, it was quiet and relaxing and you can imagine that it would be a great place to walk to if you wanted a night off from making dinner or even indulge in a lazy weekend brunch as you watch the boats sail past.
We will definitely return – especially in the upcoming cooler months as the outdoor seating area is a great asset for daytime dining.
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Al Mouj Muscat, Marsa 1
Tel: 9040 0400
Opening Hours: 8am-11pm
Lunch with drinks: RO27.2
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A cosy café with friendly service and delicious food.