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Abu Tig Marina, El Gouna, Egypt.
Le Deauville: Quality French Cuisine and Ambience in El Gouna
Eating out in El Gouna can be a pleasant experience; especially on the Abu Tig Marina, where restaurants line their tables along the promenade by the marina, offering a cool breeze and a front view of the port.
Le Deauville is a well-established French restaurant that promises an authentic French atmosphere and cuisine. The outdoor terrace is protected by the restaurant’s signature dark blue window shades, as blue square pots carrying overflowing flowers box off the seating area from passersby. Inside, the white-washed walls are sporadically decorated with vintage French pop art, photos of celebrity patrons and a blackboard displaying Le Deauville’s wine list.
Le Deauville is managed by a French husband-and-wife team, who are clearly and undeniably French, whether it’s in the husband/chef’s greying moustache whiskers and nonchalant shrug or the wife/manager’s beady eyes that fixate on you unwaveringly when you plead and beg for a table in your best French. Somewhat reminiscent of a French headmistress, she will politely refuse your request for a table unless you don’t mind sitting indoors.
The menu is quite short and limited to five options per course, but each option is culinary perfection. Our appetiser of coquille (79LE) was a tiny serving of three poached scallops served with thin slices of pumpkin and carrots in a creamy Normandy bouillon. Though the scallops could have been grilled more on one side, the delicious sauce had us lapping up the last drop with the hot bread rolls brought to our table.
For a main course, try the salmon fillet with tarragon butter and shredded vegetables (99LE). Combined with a deliciously light white sauce, the salmon is perfectly cooked without losing its pinkness and fresh flavour, while the shredded vegetables blend well with the fish’s sweet spices. For a sweet-sour experience, try the Canard Orange (129LE), a very generous chunk of a duck’s leg with carrots, fried dauphine potatoes and a thick orange jus that doesn’t overpower the tender meat with too much sweetness.
The filet boeuf (119LE) came in two portions of medium-rare beef fillets cooked in a delectable grenobloise sauce that still has our taste palates crying days later. With a side of green salad and dauphine potatoes, this dish could easily be eaten again for breakfast, lunch and dinner the next day; that’s how good it was. The sauce’s buttery and red wine-like texture complemented the tenderly grilled and juicy meat perfectly, forcing this reviewer to pause and relish the process of chewing the meat, while the rest of the dinner party looked on bemusedly.
To top off the meal, we opted for the boring crème brûlée (49LE), which was a pleasant though very predictable creamy pudding with a thin layer of caramelised sugar on top. However, Le Deauville could do no wrong after its delicious cuisine, and we would highly recommend this restaurant for an elegant though somewhat pricy dinner: a meal for two excluding wine could easily reach over 400LE with taxes and service.
In a city like Cairo, diminishing daily meals to a fast bite here and there can often be the case – and the Cairo dining scene is largely set-up for exactly that. But from time to time, we all like elevate eating to a much more refined experience.
French boulangerie, Paul, has found a welcome home in Cairo over the last few years and the branch in Downtown Katameya Mall in New Cairo is just one of many.
During our visit, it was fairly crowded when we entered, and no one greeted or seated us. The outside seating area, overlooking the fountain, was filled with hungry customers and so we reluctantly walked in and chose one of the few empty tables available indoors in Paul’s signature blend of French artisan cafe decor and furnishings.
A waitress immediately came by our table and placed the tableware as well as the menu. The beautifully designed menu was absolutely alluring; we wanted to devour every single item on there. From hearty soups to light salads and sandwiches to full-on main courses and sinful pastries, the place has it all.
Wanting to stick to our plan of having a light brunch, we settled for a Pesto Chicken Sandwich (59LE), requesting a brown instead of white baguette, Pain Au Chocolat et Pistaches (17LE), and a Chocolate Crepe (35 E). For drinks, we opted for some fresh Orange Juice (20LE)
A couple of seconds after our waitress took our order, we were brought a complimentary basket of freshly baked bread with butter and olive paste. The bread was amazing and the olive paste definitely awakened our taste buds. The service was astonishingly swift and the food was gracefully laid on our table within minutes of ordering it.
The sandwich was absolutely lip-smacking satisfying, although slightly lacking in Pesto sauce. The crepe was fluffy, light, drizzled in delicious chocolate and topped with a scoop of sweet Vanilla ice cream. The Pain au Chocolat et Pistaches tasted freshly-baked, and was surprisingly light despite being filled with chocolate and topped with powdered sugar and pistachios. Finally, the orange juice was fresh, but unfortunately a bit too warm for our liking; some ice was definitely called for.
While the service was quick and pretty impressive, it was slightly over the top. At times it felt like we were being rushed with our tableware being lifted the second we put our forks down.
All in all, Paul offered us a lovely, authentically French dining experience. The service, despite being a bit too pushy, was quick and efficient and the food’s quality, taste and look were unbelievably close to perfection. À bientôt, Paul; we’re coming back soon.