Brunch. The word connotes a thousand different things for me: lazy weekends, friends, family, and hearts— both broken and fluttering of course.
It was at Kempinski’s new brunch on Friday morning that I took a girlfriend, Friend X, to Floor 10, the hotel’s sexy upscale dining outlet that serves as a very romantic spot for dinner come night time amongst artwork of long legged horses and dim lights.
By day, the atmosphere in Floor 10 is visually uplifting and you can’t help but be affected by the sunshine that floods into the dining room through large windows that look out onto a peaceful and tranquil scene of the Nile. Broken hearts too managed to enjoy it with very little assistance from the food or drink on offer.
Seemingly combining two different kitchens within the hotel, the Kempinski’s Turkish Osmanly restaurant and Floor 10 restaurant meshed their culinary chutzpah to present a Turkish-Egyptian brunch. This entailed a delicious mix of favorites that I enjoyed when dining beforehand at the Kempinksi and a few new discoveries.
Yes, there was Turkish food on offer, Egyptian food less so, and a substantial offering of salads and starters with no particular culinary identity. But let’s not get caught up in details other than that of the taste of the food, which was either very good or lip-smackingly phenomenonal.
Starting us off with a complimentary glass of sparkling Aida rosé, our soft-spoken waitress Florence immediately understood we needed the bubbly flowing served with a little extra tender loving care. Florence and the rest of the staff served us both so attentively throughout brunch that by the end, mollified and satiated, Friend X felt more capable of facing the world.
As she pondered why life would ever allow women to suffer the inhumanity of relationship conflict, I pondered what it was I wanted to start off my brunch with. You see, just because my friend’s heart was broken didn’t mean my appetite had to suffer. There were limitations to my empathy, clearly.
A Turkish lentil soup was set out, as were hot and cold mezzehs from the Turkish restaurant, fresh salads and Oriental dips.
I left her at the table and came back with a helping of Turkish lentil soup that turned out to be slightly different than its Egyptian counterpart. Creamy in taste and smooth in texture, it was a gentrified version of lumpy Egyptian lentil soup. It went down so quickly as I savored every spoonful which strangely and perhaps only a Turkish habit, had tiny slivers of chicken and the faintest hint of cumin.
Friend X had then decided to skip brunch altogether and stick to her bubbly, and as I sat dumbfounded that a long buffet heaped with great comfort food options, wafting the most gorgeous smells of sweet and savory over to our window-side table could be ignored, Friend X bravely decided to get up and tried to eat something, if only to put on a brave front.
Friend X returned with a few pillows of marshmallows dipped into the large chocolate fountain standing by and it was then that I gave up on her and huffed off to continue eating. Hell if she wasn’t going to enjoy herself I bloody well would. After all, politics aside, I had no complaints in life at the moment.
Let me clarify something too: this brunch was not quite the brunch I expected. I expected plates of quiches and small niblits, maybe an egg or waffle station, but the Kempinski just had to outdo themselves. The only brunch element in the whole matter was that the buffet starts at one and closes at six. So I suppose that by Egyptian terms, serving lunch dishes early would qualify it as a brunch.
Items such as Hunkar’s Favorite (meat with a potato béchamel topping), marinated eggplant, and various forms of fatta came from Osmanly, as did the most delicious variation of a kofta I’ve ever sampled: grilled meat with cheese balled up and spiced, dipped in a tomato sauce. So basic in concept yet so delicious.
I decided to skip the mussels, oysters and smoked salmon on offer and instead went for a green salad and a few slices of doner kebab that a staff member carved off a long skewer. There were vermicelli rice, roasted duck, and grilled seafood options but I contended myself with the doner kebab which was so tender and spiced so differently than your average shawerma —because this was not shawerma, of course. Tossed with peppers and onions before being served onto your plate, it was a clear sign that the standards of shawerma in Egypt are tragically low.
Coming back to my table I found Friend X with a large bowl of melting chocolate from the fountain placed in front of her, the doings of sweet Florence. Seemingly content, Friend X couldn’t help but begin to crack just the slightest smile.
“If I leave you to go back to the buffet you won’t drown yourself in your chocolate will you?”
A reassuring laugh coaxed me back to sample the dessert: oriental pastries, small bite sizes of cake and quite a range of puddings and pastries. Cinnamon tinged apples tucked into rolls of filo pastry and drizzled with sugar syrup are a must try, as is the chocolate fountain. Milky and creamy, it is hands down the best chocolate fountain in town. No other establishment in town has produced a chocolate so good as to be perfect with fruit or as Friend X was demonstrating, alone, even sipped.
Clearly, a brunch outing at Kempinski on a Friday could mend any broken heart, just cross your fingers that Florence is taking care of you, and that the chocolate fountain is flowing.
The Kempinski Nile Hotel weekend brunch is on Fridays from 1 pm to 6 pm for LE 195 inclusive of tax and service charge.
Kempinski Nile Hotel: Cornishe el Nil, 12 Ahmed Ragheb Street, Cairo.
For reservations: 002-2798-0000