There is steak and there is steak at the Cairo Marriot Hotel’s Steakhouse.
It offers a menu encompassing a variety of delicacies and the choicest cuts of steak from America, Brazil and Argentina.
The restaurant itself is a departure from the orientalist theme of the hotel, exuding an air of the classic charm of an old-school dining space.
The initial pastoral impression is over-shadowed by the leather armchairs, seats upholstered in fine dark leather, the wooden tables and the fireplace. Add to that fine table linens and silverware that compliment the atmosphere of vintage sophistication.
Black and white portraits of Shirley Temple, Carole Lombard and Cary Grant amongst other Hollywood stars and legends dot the walls of the brightly lit interior.
Perusing the seemingly-limited menu, while snacking on the brown toasted bread and butter, one finds enough options to cause the most decisive of diners to stutter with indecision.
Starting off with appetizers, I ordered the Santa Barbara Prawns, with goat cheese and oven dried tomatoes served with grilled scallions in a plum-lavender sauce. But I was disappointed to find that the prawns were somewhat rubbery, ill cooked and served with a sauce that failed to deliver any hint of a plum-lavender sauce, or grilled scallions for that matter.
My dining companions had better luck with the San Diego Mussels: green shelled mussels with chilli, lime, shallots, garlic and chopped coriander. Its tangy nature and beautiful mix of coriander left a pleasant taste. My second dining companion ordered Ginger Dill Norwegian Smoked Salmon (with horseradish caviar) which although fresh, did not hint that the salmon was imported.
There were other options on the menu that catered to classic American tastes: Maryland Crab Cake, with lime tartar sauce, and Red Bliss Potato Chowder, with, red onion, rosemary, celery and beef cubes, sounded both nostalgic and authentic, but we opted for a lighter appetizer so as to focus on our main courses and the restaurant’s namesake: succulent cuts of Angus steak.
Delicacies such as jumbo prawns and lobster are also on the menu and I decided to truly indulge and explore a little by ordering the Surf and Turf: a six ounce fillet mignon with half a lobster.
I ordered the steak medium rare and was pleasantly surprised to find that the chef had cooked it to a perfect rosy pinkness on the inside and only slightly on the outside – a novelty in a country where steak is often overcooked, dry and chewy.
My mouth never made contact with meat so tender and tastey. There was something slightly sweet to the meat, and although I did not add any of the sauces served alongside the steak (traditional pepper or mustard) I enjoyed every bite.
The lobster served alongside was artfully placed on the plate above a bed of mixed vegetables, and although proving slightly difficult to extract the meat from the hard shell, it was worth the patient struggle with fork and knife.
Traditional American side orders are also on the menu, and each entrée receives a complimentary side order. The parmesan steak fries was disappointing, whereas my companions’ hash brown potatoes (with what we guessed was perhaps a touch of coriander) and mashed potatoes (with caramelized garlic) were comfort food at its finest. The latter was a form of art.
A dinner companion ordered the Jumbo Shrimps, sautéed in garlic butter, which was both prepared well and thoroughly cooked. Each shrimp was plump and juicy and off came their garlic butter slicked shell.
An extensive wine list, including Spanish, Italian, French, German, Chilean, and South African wine options, is available. Pairing a wine with one’s meal was another struggle in decision making. No other restaurant in town seems to have such a myriad of options.
Although mostly expensive, a single glass serving is perhaps the most economical option; but remember, this is not the venue to come to with a limited budget. The meal so far was expensive, more so than the average hotel restaurant, reminding me of prices in upscale New York restaurants.
But cost aside, we were pleasantly surprised to find that after our main course had been cleared that the table linens were changed for dessert: embroidered with a chef carrying pastries and summer watermelon.
Ordering pistachio nougat, a chocolate mousse cake with a mocha centre, and a fresh berries tart, it was our final indulgence coupled with an espresso.
There might have been a few weak plates on the menu, but they were forgotten as the meal progressed.
Service was quick and efficient, and the waiters worked fast on their feet meeting every request with a smile. The only thing ruining this wonderful experience was the out-of-place elevator music; where were Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole? Their portraits on the wall were smiling but silent. Yet even the music could be overlooked when chewing on delectable steak.
SteakhouseCairo Marriott Hotel and Omar Khayyam CasinoZamalekTel: 20 2 27394661