No-menu menus go well with chocolate

5 Min Read


The Blue restaurant is the first of its kind in Egypt: A “no-menu menu” restaurant that serves whatever you wish to eat, whatever strikes your fancy (pardon the delicious yet appropriate pun) out of the blue.

The new Kempinski Nile Hotel has been very good to Cairo recently, giving us Osmanly restaurant — the new Turkish restaurant that has added touches of local Egyptian and Lebanese dishes and ingredients to traditional Turkish dishes — and of course, Floor 10, a cigar lounge, jazz bar and fine dining experience with a perfect view from the hotel’s tenth floor.

While Osmanly is perfect for family dinners and Floor 10 for romantic dates, The Blue is a cozy, casual lunch spot.

The only limitation set by the no-menu menu is what’s on offer that day in the restaurant by way of fresh produce, if the lobster isn’t fresh or the fish which you prefer is not available, you have to reconsider what it is you will be asking Chef Holger Jackisch to make you. During my lunch date with friends, salmon wasn’t available and neither was sea bass but there was sole and lobster and scallops, chicken and various cuts of beef.

Spotting some bright pumpkins at vegetable stalls recently around Cairo and never being successful at making pumpkin soup myself at home; I asked for pumpkin soup and for my main, a seafood pasta. Easy enough I thought. Not too convoluted a request yet perhaps Chef might be able to surprise me.

Between the pasta workroom and the dining room is an open window and I watched as my pasta was being rolled out and kneaded into long thin strands on a wooden countertop. Having been taught by Italian friends that true Italian pasta is always made fresh, my expectations were raised.

My soup came down creamy and frothy with drops of pumpkin oil. It was delicious and went above and beyond the call of the hearty soup I had imagined when ordering. Had Cinderella understood what she could do with her carriage after it had morphed back into a pumpkin, she wouldn’t have been so disappointed that she missed her opportunity with Prince Charming at the ball.

What I most appreciated about my lunch was that my requests were cooked to have some correlation between the two courses. My pasta came down as black squid ink pasta, with morsels of lobster and scallops arranged in a pretty line, the sauce was flavored with pumpkin and the plate decorated with pumpkin oil. There was something autumnal about the dishes, hearty and fresh yet nothing was made too simple or had been compromised because it was requested spontaneously. The squid ink pasta was the best pasta I have ever had in Egypt, so good I wouldn’t have minded eating it sans sauce or external flavoring. Thankfully Chef hadn’t overwhelmed its particular flavor with the sauce.

For dessert we headed downstairs to the chocolate lounge off of the reception where each chocolate is made by hand by the hotel’s chocolate chef. The usual coffee, caramel, dark and plain chocolates were part of the selection, as were bergamot, lavender and citrus flavored treats. The lavender and bergamot are current favorites; smooth chocolate that melts easily with pockets of creamy flavored fillings; they were a rich but perfectly good note on which to end my lunch.

There are gateaux’s and biscuits to have instead of chocolates should you wish, but it begs asking the question, who doesn’t love gourmet chocolate?

The Blue
Kempinski Hotel
12 Ahmed Ragheb St.,
Tel: (02) 2798 0000


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