We had been hearing a lot of good things about Aseil and a few days ago we finally had the chance to check it out! We were told that its one of the authentic Saudi restaurants and offers all sorts of dishes from every region in Saudi Arabia.
Aseil is located in a place known as “The Courtyard” which hosts a few other popular restaurants as well. They had a “singles” section as well as a “family” section and in both the sections there was a choice of sitting outdoor or inside. We chose to sit inside because it was less crowded and there was no shisha smoke. The interior is quite well done with classic Saudi style cushions and colors. They even had a date palm tree inside !
A waiter brought out the menus and we took a quick look and decided what to order. We expected that the menu would be more detailed and also telling us which region each dish was from, so that we could try dishes from different regions in Saudi Arabia. But this was not the case, so we stuck to what we thought sounded good. First we ordered the “Kursan Salad” which was basically a mixture of tomato, lettuce, cucumber, spring onion, green pepper and toasted bread seasoned with a “dugga” sauce. Dugga is a special herb found in Saudi Arabia originating from Madinah and is known for its beneficial digestive qualities.
Next we ordered the “Farmoza” which is a pastry made of baked dough and is filled with a meat and onion mixture. This was really delicious ! We also ordered “Mutabbal” which is a dip made from grilled smoked eggplant with tahini and it complimented the “Farmoza” very well.
For the main course we ordered a “Samak bel Tahina” which was basically just fresh grilled fish with tahini sauce. I’m not sure exactly what kind of fish this was but it was a smaller sized fish with lots of bones so it was a bit difficult to eat. At 96 riyals we definitely felt it was over-priced.
Overall, we were a bit disappointed with the food since we had heard so much about this place and it wasn’t extraordinarily good. It was just okay, nothing to rave about. And for the food quality/ambience we honestly felt that the price was too high.
Another factor that contributed to our disappointment was the customer service. Since its one of the “nicer” restaurants, we expected the service to be really good but unfortunately they were not as accommodating or helpful as we expected them to be. Initially, when we walked into the restaurant we didn’t know that we were walking into the “singles” section and there was a waiter standing there watching television and completely ignoring us for a few minutes until he turned around and told us that it was the “singles” section. The attitude of the staff in the “family” section was also similar, the waiters didn’t greet us, didn’t smile, and did not seem approachable at all for help with the menu selection. This attitude was the same as we were walking out, no “thank you’s” or “come again’s” either!
We might just try “Aseil” one more time to see if any of the traditional Saudi meat dishes are good. But if the attitude of the staff is the same then that will surely be our last visit there. Restaurants that charge high prices and enjoy a popular reputation amongst customers should work hard to make sure that their standard is maintained at all times, otherwise they will end up losing customers. Most of the places that we frequently visit have always maintained excellent customer service and we still prefer visiting again and again, even if they lack in food quality sometimes.