The Grill in the Semiramis Hotel on the Corniche offers patrons a perfect foray into French cuisine.
By Fanny Ohier
Located high above the city, the large windows of The Grill offer visitors a beautiful view of the Nile. Soothed by hushed jazzy melodies and candlelight, the undeniable class of the restaurant is enhanced by the warm welcome of the staff. In this cosy yet elegant setting guests are invited to enjoy and savour French gastronomy. The prices match the quality of the dishes served, which are made entirely from organic products.
To start, we enjoyed shrimp as an appetiser; the gourmet smoky taste made it seem as though they had been baked in a wood-fired oven. The presentation of the dish was ornamental and inventive, and set the tone for the rest of the dinner. Throughout the meal, original touches pleasantly surprised us and gave the conventional French cuisine a local taste.
When we were served our second starter we realised that we were in for a treat. Not content to serve an ordinary grilled sea scallop with avocado royal, the chef of The Grill adds olive oil ice cream to the corner of the plate, which brings a completely different flavour to the fine composition. In every dish, one of the accompaniments or ingredients leads the diner to rediscover a new combination of flavours.
Also available are traditional French starters such as pan-fried duck liver with apple, veal jus and balsamic vinegar. A shrimp coulis enhances the smoked salmon mille-feuille coupled with creamy cheese and avocado. The attentive personnel of The Grill will suggest wines to accompany your dishes from their fine selection, and although Egyptian wines can be served by glass, French wines are only available by the bottle and are quite expensive.
Other main dishes available include stuffed chicken breast with mushrooms, pasta, chicken jus, asparagus and glazed carrots, and a variety of seafood: baked lobster enhanced with tarragon butter, to a tempting roasted sea bass with basil creamy sauce, accompanied by sauteed sea scallops and pan-fried noodles.
All of the meats, served with a large selection of breads, are perfectly cooked. From the soft duckling breast accompanied by glazed endives, red butter and potatoes fondant, to the pan-fried beef fillet with duck liver, dauphin potatoes and asparagus, all of the dishes on offer are perfect for food lovers.
On the whole the menu is inspired and delicious, but the dessert cart was slightly disappointing. The promising-sounding strawberry salad with orange, honey, fresh mint and ginger, passion fruit sherbet is not always available. The caramelised date tart, an appealing idea that combines French tarts and Egyptian fruit, is quite heavy for the end of a dinner. Meanwhile, the crispy goulash with creamy yogurt flavoured with vanilla and raspberry sauce seemed to lack a bit of flavour and consistency. There are a few all-time French favourites such as a hazelnut flavoured creme brulee, as well as chocolate fondue with vanilla ice cream.
The gastronomic menu at The Grill comes at a price, but there are more budget-friendly options. The degustation menu for EGP 199, taxes not included, offers a good mix of tastes. As a starter you will be served the smoked salmon and lobster bisque, flavoured with dill. As a main, you’ll have the choice of veal papillote with green leaves and pepper sauce, served with grilled potato and buttered vegetables, or a pan-fried salmon fillet with apple risotto, lemon butter sauce, accompanied with glazed carrot and sautéed shrimps. The crispy vanilla yoghurt goulash finishes the meal.
The nice demeanour of the staff, the comfort of the surroundings and the good quality of both the service and the food will guarantee you a very nice evening at The Grill.