The team that presented Cairo with Club 35 has recently celebrated the opening of their new restaurant, Indigo, in First Mall, Giza providing a venue similar in style and feel to some of those one makes a special trek to in London or Paris.
The spacious restaurant overlooks a stunning view of the Nile, making it ideal for a unique dining experience. Managed by friendly Lebanese and French managers, the place offers exemplary service.
Indigo isn’t different from those restaurants we wish to dine in abroad, proving to skeptics that cuisine in Egypt is being taken most seriously and dining interior concepts have become a medium of art unto their own.
French interior decorator Didier Gomez designed the restaurant’s bar and lounge seating area and created its dining concept. The overall theme was modern meets ethnic, with red, natural wood colors and maroons being the dominant colors. Indirect lighting sets off various colored glows throughout the restaurant.
There is an emphasis on fluid and relaxed movement. Chairs that appear as bird cages hang from the ceiling, and although perhaps awkward to carry a conversation from with your neighbor who would also be seated in a nearby cage, they do add an element of charming eccentricity.
The bar is made from Plexiglas with veins that run throughout, having been cut by laser, and it is lit from behind with fiber optics. The result is dramatic color, and the appearance is like shattered glass. Bar stools are but small fragments fashioned from the same Plexiglas upon which one must perch delicately on. The array of creative cocktails will delight the eyes and palettes of those who choose to spend some time with a date at the bar. The seating arrangement is close and intimate, and an ideal setting for aperitifs.
Indigo’s menu offers a fusion of cuisine from three countries: Spain, Vietnam and Indonesia. The Spanish menu offers hot and cold tapas, a selection of paella dishes that in true Spanish fashion focuses on incorporating sea food.
Cuttlefish, mussels and shrimps are on offer if ordering the paella nero, but I preferred to order chicken curry soup from the Vietnamese menu which was served as one would gaspacho soup, cold and relying on flavor for that necessary reviving kick one seeks from soups.
The curry chicken soup was certainly spicy, but ravioli pieces house the chicken in small pockets. I would certainly order this soup again during a second visit but I’d ask for the ravioli dough to be cooked a bit more thoroughly. I lean towards a softer and less doughy texture when eating pasta.
Following that, a selection of items tapas style was in order. Indonesian salad otak with glass noodles and litchi dressing danced interestingly on my tongue, as did Vietnamese fresh raw spring rolls with shrimps in nuoac-mam sauce; but it was the hot tapas dishes that stole the show.
Vietnamese lemon grass chicken with jasmine rice offers a combination of flavors that only those with an appreciation for the finer taste of lemon grass could enjoy. It was delightfully light and reminiscent of Thai cuisine sampled during a vacation. Wok stir-fried beef tenderloin with chilies and peanut sauce offers those with a penchant for full bodied flavor something to compliment their previous spicy tapas with and it served as the perfect main dish to my earlier chicken curry soup.
There are many options of course: Indonesian fried jumbo shrimps with asam manis sauce; lobster with lemon grass, tamarind, ginger and jasmine rice; Spanish grilled imported angus striploin, potatoes mousline, piquillos and olive oil; Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup, lemon grass, chilies, coriander and lime; or roasted salmon with tamarind sauce and stir fried vegetables. It is hard to settle on two or so choices between starters and a main course, but enthusiastic dining partners are a must when visiting Indigo.
Surprisingly, it was their dessert that had me and my dining partner lingering on. Repeatedly tempted by their friendly waiters – they were ever so insistent we try everything on offer that night – I admit we didn’t put up a fight.
Indigo chocolate cube was an otherworldly chocolate experience. Light and creamy, it transported one away from the Asiatic flavors of lemon grass and peanut sauce to dreams of traveling around Spain. If looking for flavors just as sweet but less intense, any of the desserts incorporating fruit carry with it as much impact as the chocolate. I didn’t get a chance to try the lemon grass soufflé, but the passion fruit agar-agar was certainly quite a treat. On offer that night was a medley of fruit bathed in a creamy mousse, as was tiramisu and a caramel mousse with pieces of biscuit and cake. I recommend requesting the caramel dessert even if it does not appear on the menu; Indigo’s waiters are ready to serve one’s passing whims at any moment.
There is a novelty about the menu at Indigo. Not only are vegetarian dishes available, but clients can modify recipes as they choose to when ordering.
This invitation by Indigo to play and experiment is reflective of their casual attitude towards food and dining: dining at Indigo is intended to be a pleasurable experience from beginning to end and it most certainly was. As to whether Indigo will attain the same success as its sister Club 35 is unknown, but Indigo will surely add color to the local dining scene this year.