Opened over a year ago in the recently refurbished Cairo Tower in Zamalek, the VIP restaurant adds its unimaginative name to the short list of restaurants offering fine dining in Cairo. Granted, fine dining usually means exorbitantly expensive, but the VIP restaurant delivers adequately on the promise that its sleek menu offers high quality dining.

Two separate (and very private) elevator trips are needed to arrive at this stratospheric smorgasbord, and once the last double doors open; patrons are greeted by the maitre d’, whose job of finding appropriate seating is made simple by the fact that there isn’t a single bad view in the entire 50-seat restaurant. In fact, we were spoilt for choice since the dining hall was empty save for our own table.

The decor itself is understated: pressed white table cloths lie beneath white Villeroy & Boch plates and silver utensils are awash in the dim glow of candles and table lamps. It’s all very quiet, which makes the diners speak in hushed tones; perfect for a romantic dinner or a dignified business rendezvous.

Clad in a steel studded leather binder, the menu is very straightforward; offering nothing unfamiliar or adventurous. Right on time, the starter of a crispy warm goat’s cheese salad (140LE) arrived. It was light and full of flavour, while the main ingredient made a modest showpiece - although a different dressing other than the ubiquitous balsamic sauce could have elevated this salad to loftier heights.

The main course of veal medallions (140LE) was served with dauphinoise potatoes and sautéed vegetables. It was perfectly cooked, seasoned and ultimately boring. Another main course– the king shrimps Provencal (150LE)– was also well-prepared albeit slightly under-seasoned and dressed with an ineffectual tomato Provencal sauce, leaving us feeling underwhelmed. Finally, the denouement of the meal arrived in the guise of a vanilla crème brûlée, free of any chef twists, innovations or bursts of vivid flavour.

While it certainly was a very good experience overall, we were regrettably aware that our socks were still on our feet. It’s still a very good restaurant, and can provide an excellent setting for a special dinner– it’s just that in the face of recent options like Blue at the Kempinski or Villa Belle Époque in Maadi, the ante must be upped to stay on equal footing.

There is no denying the considerable expertise of the chef; but the menu is too safe. It’s all very prim, proper and polite, like the type of woman that your mother would like you to marry.