In search of some novelty dining in Cairo’s impressive array of eating options, we recently happened upon the Chocolate Lounge in the Kempinski Nile Hotel. The restaurant and café is said to blend high-grade imported chocolates with an exclusive European experience.

The Chocolate Lounge is at the end of a straight walk through the small hotel lobby, with a spacious ceiling and overhead skylight, and glimpses of the hotel’s two restaurants Blue and Osmanly from overhanging balconies.

The hotel is quaint, although the lobby-like design lacks any intimacy: at the time of our visit, the open entryways prompted several guests to stroll through the vacant tables in search of somewhere else.

The two waiters on duty formed a duo of impeccably prompt service, keeping a watchful eye on the few occupied tables throughout the evening. Our choices of a steak sandwich (around 55LE) and a house burger (around 65LE) arrived in dainty arrangements, with coleslaw and fresh green salads lovingly placed onto porcelain side plates.

While the items appeared standard on the menu, the food itself was above average. Sophisticated flavours of onions and black pepper paired with sautéed shitake mushroom and delicates slices of braised beef made the steak sandwich memorable to the last bite.The house burger was accompanied by a fried egg, pickles, onions, tomatoes and spring greens, with crispy-thin cut fries wrapped in paper on the side.

Having proven itself an adequate contender in the business of entrées, it was now time to move onto the desserts. Several samples of the lounge’s namesake products can be found in the display cases, where whole bricks of white, dark and milk chocolate are on show. Flavours of chocolates vary from anise to lavender to Clementine. Behind the double bar, copper hot chocolate devices gleam next to espresso machines and at least one chocolate fountain, which was out of commission at the time of our visit.

Aside from the pure chocolate squares; tortes and cakes were also spotted, from a decadent flourless chocolate cake to mini-fruit and custard tortes. Upon our waiter’s recommendation, we ordered servings of the Cairo opera. The multi-tiered chocolate cake confection consists of fine layers of dark chocolate, cocoa cream, chocolate cake with a marbleised chocolate shell. Samples of the lavender and Clementine chocolates yielded a curious mix of herbal infusions; while the dark cocoa nearly but not quite overpowered the hints of citrus and lavender.

With the full-course meal costing a little less than 300LE, we deemed the Chocolate Lounge a novel, albeit a somewhat solitary dining experience. While the atmosphere was lacking, the cuisine was excellent and light and the chocolates were pleasant. The Chocolate Lounge is missing a little spark and spice, perhaps; but it is most definitely worth a visit, perhaps during daylight hours.