It has been a good year for food in Egypt. High end restaurants, where dining is a process, and more modest establishments have popped up all over the city. Looking back, the five that have stood out were exceptional because of their service, the quality of their dishes, the novelty of their menus, their dining space and the overall experience.
Unfortunately, small cafés or independent restaurants have not mushroomed all over the city the way hotel restaurants and fine dining establishments have this year. So please do excuse the rich list to follow. We are not food snobs at Daily News Egypt; we, like you, were forced to cough up big money to enjoy good food this year.
In no particular order:
Tamarai Restaurant and Lounge
An outdoor terrace overlooking the Nile for summer nights and an indoor dining room for winter, Tamarai was in line with its namesake. A lotus flower that grows between the reeds and from the mud of the Nile: Tamarai has changed the dining and clubbing scene of Cairo.
The lounge area is for casual drinks and mezzas, and dining is a gorgeous affair. One of the managing partners is Chef Vincent Guillo of Four Corners fame. He brought over French flair and combined it with elements of Mediterranean food and local ingredients. Although not everyone has had as outstanding a dining experience as we repeatedly have at Tamarai, we’re adamant about putting it on this list.
Come midnight most nights of the week, the music gets loud and a DJ spins great music to get guests up and dancing. Tamarai’s appeal is that it’s a versatile establishment; one where the young people of the city often congregate during weekends. Coupled with the beautifully decorated interiors of architect Shahira H. Fahmy, Tamarai was a big success both in terms of the clubbing experience and their dining menu.
Tamarai, Fairmont, Nile Towers, Corniche El-Nil, Boulaq Tel: 2461 9910
As Thai-inspired cuisine takes over the city and its popularity grows, a truly exceptional and authentic establishment to come out of it all is Lan Tania. The food is truly tasty and no dish was a disappointment. Whether it was duck, fish or their pad Thai noodles, generous portions and authenticity make us glad that at least one good restaurant is in this part of town.
Skipping kitsch Asian-inspired interiors and opting for a more refined modern and open space, and a kitchen that one can watch through panes of glass, Lan Tania has reinterpreted a constant model more successfully while adding novelty to the experience.
Lan Tania, Fairmont Heliopolis, Orouba St.Tel: 2267 7730
Although intended to be a restaurant where the specialties are grilled items of every kind, Napa Grill’s success ultimately lies in its head chef’s vast experience.
Chef Matthew Gilbert has traveled extensively, and worked in some of the most exciting and accomplished kitchens in the United States and France. Napa Grill offers a reinterpretation of classic American dishes and food items, fusing it with French cooking methods and ingredients.
The result is a menu that is both light on the palette and, surprisingly, on the stomach. Chef Gilbert’s efforts are perhaps the lone example in the city of a chef trying to take care of his patrons’ waistlines.
Napa Grill, Fairmont, Nile Towers, Corniche El-Nil, Boulaq.Tel: 02-2461-9494
La Maison Blanche
Take the concept of French food, spin it with some contemporary philosophies, add some sparkle with a colorful dining room and you will have the pleasure of dining at La Maison Blanche.
True to its name, it is quite bright with white light at night and a beautiful setting during afternoon lunch dates. The restaurant is not only an epicurean delight (lemon tart was served upside down with a lemon juice-cum-tart center with fizzy candy rocks) but the attention to the physical detail of the interiors is astounding.
Every item in the restaurant – whether it is the cutlery, teapot or water flask – were handpicked from big names and brands. The restaurant is not simply about eating tasty, well-presented food, but it’s about enjoying the aesthetic pleasures of dining.
La Maison Blanche, First Mall, 35 Giza St., GizaTel: 3570 0205
A new concept in cocktails and dining, Aperitivo has in a short span of time proven that what people like most is a little bit of novelty and a good dose of tradition.
It is the most promising restaurant of the year: perhaps the one that will stand out the most for years to come because of its ambiance, food, service and old school appeal.
157, 26th of July St., Zamalek, CairoTel: 2735 0543