Executive Chef Christophe Gillino is again proving that his culinary creativity is also an art form.
Launching a lobster and caviar night, to take place on Thursday nights at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza’s Aqua restaurant, Chef Gillino sets out to keep patrons coming to the restaurant by decadent epicurean means. An extensive buffet of caviar and lobster dishes tease guests upon entering the restaurant, with a visually enticing array of colors and the smell of fresh lobster on the grill.
Chef Gillino had surprised fans of Aqua last April with a ‘food and art’ effort, in which he replicated paintings from the extensive art collection of the hotel in dish form. Green soups were abstract backgrounds, and chocolate lines were brown brushstrokes. Yet purple, orange and red foods also crept in to his creations, and dinner was simply not just a meal but a thoroughly adventurous experience.
On Thursday, knowledgeable assistant chefs and helpful waiting staff guided guests, me included, through the various kinds of lobster and caviar on offer. I had had scant experience in the past with caviar and a mediocre brush with lobster but with the help of a guide, one becomes easily acquainted with the various kinds of lobster and caviar on offer.
Beluga caviar, which has a creamy, almost buttery taste; osetra, which has a slightly nutty flavor; and the sevruga, which is generally saltier, are mostly offered a la carte. The buffet, on the other hand, includes varieties of lobster, finger foods to compliment the caviar, and other options such as salmon and beef, as well as various salads and desserts. Some types of caviar, such as salmon roe, are part of the buffet and learning to pair the caviar with its various condiments is part of the experience.
The buffet is divided into cold starter items that are housed in small cups to serve as salad starters; a caviar carving station where all the necessary requirements of condiments and potato bellinis are set up to make little caviar bites; and a lobster show station where one picks between lobster tails, lobster crème brulee, lobster tartar and lobster crevice. But that is not all. A lobster savoury station is also set up to display Lobster vol au vent, lobster skewers, and lobster thermidor.
The lobsters come fresh and alive to Chef Gillino. “I go through them myself every Thursday morning before cooking them alive as is required. My sympathies for the lobsters cease once I start eating.
I started with a lobster bisque soup, wonderfully rich and creamy. Then, I moved on to grilled Canadian lobster – one of the many kinds Chef Gillino has selected for the buffet – swimming in a wonderful lemon bisque sauce. Tender and succulent, I then sampled grilled lobster in another sauce based in saffron and the pairings are typically Gillino: somewhat locally inspired and surprisingly successful.
But to explain everything sampled would be redundant. The conclusion is: every item on this buffet was perfect. Sharing moments of surprise and repeated trips to the buffet, for a self-proclaimed lover of all good food, I was in heaven.
And then a little chocolate mousse and macaroon from the dessert buffet sealed the deal, I inquired about reservations for next weekend. Impossible.
Due to word of mouth, reservations now have to be booked a good few weeks in advance.
Thursday night Lobster and Caviar Buffet: LE 270 ++Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Garden City Corniche. Tel: 20 (2) 2791-7000