I was quite excited to say the least when I heard Melange had just opened off Tahlia Street (opposite Tujjar Jeddah) and beside the large Capo Grillo. Not only because Melange is a venture by B-Concept the people behind Sushi Yoshi, but also because a few months ago I had met the restaurants Portuguese chef who had insisted that authentic Iberian dishes would be on the menu. This struck a chord as I have travelled extensively around Portugal and I am a big fan of their cuisine.
However its worth noting that the menu at Melange is not exclusively Portuguese, in fact there are dishes from across the globe which makes for an extensive menu. This is not a eat and run establishment, in fact describing it as fine dining would be more appropriate.
We dropped by at the start of the weekend and found the place pretty much deserted (understandable due to the soft opening). An awkward attempt at opening a locked door (there are two identical glass doors right next to each other) was soon forgotten, and we made out way inside the newly built restaurant.
It seems that no expense was spared on the minimalistic but lush interior. Dark wood flooring, back lit wall panels, and contemporary dark furniture screamed class. The domed pink ceiling lights cast a subtle glow across the restaurant, while a metal mashrabiya lattice follows the a/c pipes across the ceiling, turning a usual eye sore into a bit of a gem.
We chose to sit by the window for the view and slightly less formal seating soft lounge chairs and lower tables.Sitting down I immediately sank into the soft arm chair, almost sofa like,Melange have chosen well, as a comfortable customer is one more likely to linger. That seems to be the intention, as it soon dawned on us that the area we had opted to sit in was also surrounded by large and glowing bohemian crystal Shisha pipes.
These colour changing and rotund pots were hand made in the Czech Republic although to me they seemed more Alice in Wonderland than Prague, the only thing missing was the caterpillar! Customers are even given a remote to control the colour of their pipe! As a non smoker these provided little more than a visual aesthetic to our meal, but to the avid Shisha smokers, I see these becoming a major draw to Melange.
For the Shisha haters, worry not, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that in addition to the family section upstairs, there is also a dedicated room for non smokers, as well as two impressive balconies. The first is outdoors, decked with chic lounge chairs for a chillout experience (weather permitting!). The second is a polar opposite, an indoor outdoor experience, air conditioned, with (believe it or not!) a retractable roof should the room get too smoky!
Within moments of arriving we were approached by a waiter with an open bottle of Nestles very own Acqua Panna, and the pressure selling had begun! Not that I have anything against the water, but I prefer to choose the brand I drink, rather than have the most expensive option forced upon me. Unfortunately no alternative was available, so instead we opted for fresh lemonades.
As for the food, the menu had a good selection of appetizers, salads and main courses. The Iberian choices stood out, I was keen to try the Sea Food Cataplana, but this was recommended for two, and as my dining partner was not keen on shellfish, he instead opted for the Taif Cheese and Spinach Cannelloni, while I went for the Monkfish and Beef bacon grilled skewers.
We also chose a Bakers Surprise as an appetizer a goats cheese, roasted tomato and almond puff pastry. While the staff were very helpful, the waiter soon returned to inform me there was no monkfish available, however to be fair they did offer to replace the monkfish with nagil, but not sounding right, I instead went for the 350g chateaubriand, ordering it medium rare.
First came a complimentary helping of toast and tzatziki which was smooth, thick and creamy, thumbs up for not being watered down. This was soon followed by a basket of freshly baked herb and olive breads, along with our fresh lemonades.
So good was the bread, not a single piece remained, and our appetizer had not yet arrived! But there was no rush, and the basket of carbs had left us satisfied for the time being. The lemonade was cool and light, not overly sour or sweet, it was closer to a cordial or squash, and reminded me of Lemon Barley water. The Bakers Surprise appetizer soon followed, this puff pastry was similar to a baked sambousa, with an enjoyably sweet filling of goats cheese, tomatoe jam, and almonds.
As for our main courses, these were impressive to say the least. My 100 SR, 350g of chateaubriand lived up to its name and size, it is great to order a medium rare steak and actually get exactly that! This US certified Angus beef was smooth, buttery, and a real pleasure to eat. It was served with a grilled tomato, and a creamy peppercorn sauce which complemented the steak nicely.
The only real let down for me was the herb covered French fries, as unfortunately herbs were not the only toping. The fries were incredibly salty, to the point of almost being inedible, and as a result, I left most of these. As for my dining partner, he enjoyed the Taif Cannelloni, so no complaints there.
Plates were cleared and it was not long before the dessert menu was out, It contained a mix of local and international options. I went for the Trio Creme Brule, three flavours (chocolate, coffee and vanilla) served cool in particularly small dishes, a light way to end the meal. The chocolate was particularly memorable, so good in fact; were it available alone, I would simply order that and skip the coffee and vanilla options.
All in all Melange did a particularly good job at satisfying us, the chateaubriand is without doubt one of the best steaks I have had in Jeddah. As for the minor slip ups (the curious case of the missing monkfish), this can be forgiven as they are still in their soft opening. With regard to the service, the staff were helpful and always on hand. With such an extensive menu, I will certainly be back for more, and if the other mains are as good as what we tried on our visit, I can see Melange making a potentially big impression on the dining scene in Jeddah.Melange,
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