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Le Steak: Standard Steak in a Standard Restaurant
It’s safe to say that we Cairenes like our meat, unless you’re a vegetarian. But for those of us who crave veal, steak, burgers and kofta, Cairo is full of restaurants that cater to our carnivore desires.
Located on Le Pacha 1901 boat in Zamalek, Le Steak is a French restaurant that attempts a Parisian bistro atmosphere with its Art Nouveau menus, wooden ceilings and flooring, booths and charming chandeliers. Popular amongst an older clientele, Le Steak's atmosphere is more cosy than trendy; it’s the type of restaurant that your dad would love but you wouldn’t want to bring your hip girlfriend to.
If you feel like brushing up on your French, all items on the large menu are listed en Francais, though you can cheat and read the English and Arabic in fine print. Although the cuisine is predominately French gastronomy, we were baffled to find the odd mention of spring rolls with vegetables. If nothing strikes your fancy, the restaurant also offers menus from all nearby restaurants on the boat; so you can order sushi from L’Asiatique or risotto from Piccolo Mondo, though we recommend you order appetizers from the Lebanese restaurant Le Tarbouche such as the chicken liver and stuffed vine leaves.
For appetisers, you can select from their standard soups: tomato, chicken, mushroom or gratinated onion (22LE to 34LE), and salads such as the endives with walnuts and blue cheese (50LE) or starters such as the mushroom Provencal.
Our selection of mushroom cream soup was a tiny, coffee-mug portion of thick, creamy and very standard soup that filled but didn’t delight. The mushroom and rocket salad (49.90LE) was a large plate of rocket with sliced and canned mushrooms, large slices of parmesan cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Again, it was normal and tasty, but not exciting.
Although it boasts a long list of fish and poultry dishes as main courses, what Le Steak does best is, uh, steak. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the restaurant’s speciality of Chateaubriand, a tender cut of 250 to 280grams from the tenderloin of rare meat (107.90LE). If you’re wary of bloody steaks, you can opt for the safer options of beef fillet with pepper, Roquefort, mustard or béarnaise sauce.
It’s difficult to get medium-rare just right, and our order of beef fillet with béarnaise sauce (83.90LE) was tender and juicy, though we could have done with less blood and more flavour. Nonetheless, the fillet was tasty enough to be eaten on its own without the béarnaise sauce, which, combined with the very thick mashed potatoes on the side, was a little too creamy for our taste. The beef fillet with wild mushroom sauce (86.90LE) was equally well-cooked and tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The dessert menu offers a selection available to all outlets on the boat, including dark chocolate flourless lava cake, fruit salad, strawberry meringue and date tart with vanilla ice cream (between 15LE to 31LE). After a heavy steak meal, we recommend the lemon sorbet, which is a light way to end such a filling meal. A two-course meal for two excluding wine will set you back around 350LE.Our main complaint about Le Steak is that it's too standard: the cuisine was good; the service was good; but just good, not amazing, and definitely not memorable.
From burgers and gourmet Oriental food, to Lebanese restaurants and everything chocolate; the food industry in Egypt started to become a little bit repetitive and it’s obvious that many restaurateurs are looking to play it safe and follow trends. However, grill house and smokery, Kazlak, is one restaurant that took a risk by going in a different direction than any other restaurant in Egypt.
Kazlak’s concept is all about the simple local products used in innovative ways. Their plates are brought from El Fostat, almost every single ingredient you’ll eat is home grown and even the wooden pizza pans are made from trees in Halayeb and Shalateen.
Located inside the Courtyard in Maadi, Kazlak is surrounded by mostly cafes and casual diners, so it stands out with its simple yet chic interior. From the simple touches of wood studs, the stone wall and the curtain wall facade overlooking the Courtyard stage, to the live pizza station and the fantastic choice of colours, the whole place has a village house-like interior, boasting a chilling and relaxing ambiance in a simple yet elegant way.
Let’s get down to business; we kicked things off with Sparkling Strawberry (27LE) and complimentary fresh toasted bread with garlic dip. The drink was a simple mix strawberry juice mixed with sparkling club soda, but was super refreshing and had a perfect ratio of juice to soda.
For our appetisers, we went with Shrimp & Bisk Espuma (44LE); a mixture of baby shrimp and caramelised onion with a hint of shrimp bisque, all covered with smooth potato mousse. Boasting similar flavours to an onion soup, the mixture had a gravy-like consistency that worked perfectly with the potato mousse, and the little drizzle of balsamic vinegar complimented the dish with its sweet and acidic touch.
We also tried the Three-Layered Beef Potato Salad (47LE); beef slices infused with peanut butter sauce laying over potato salad and topped with shredded lettuce, beef bacon, black olive and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. With an impressive diversity in textures and flavours, the potato salad didn’t have that overpowering mayonnaise taste to it and the potato had a little bite to it, while the beef bacon was bursting with balsamic vinegar flavours, and everything just tasted so fresh. However, the peanut butter sauce – possibly the most interesting element of the dish – was overshadowed by the rest of the flavours.
Moving to the mains, we opted for the Duck Two Way (120LE). Despite the fact that we were served two pieces of duck cooked in the same way with a side of gnocchi and ginger glaze which made us feel like it was more of a mix-and-match duck platter, we enjoyed every bit of this dish.
The perfectly cooked breast on its own had great flavours, but the hint of sweetness and the ginger pieces in the ginger glaze took the duck to a whole new level of deliciousness. The duck leg, meanwhile, was super tender and just as delicious as the breast, while the zesty gnocchi in the creamy lemon sauce worked well as a side.
We also tried the Short Ribs (130LE), which were served with a side of super cheesy and gooey bowl of Mac and Cheese and perfectly cooked sautéed vegetables spiced with sweet basil. The fall-off-the-bone beef short ribs, meanwhile, had an out-of-this-world smoky flavour due to the slow smoking method, and the fried onion on top and BBQ sauce on the side just boosted the smokiness and sweetness of the beef. The whole dish was flawless and showed a lot of skill in the kitchen.
We then finished our meal with Hot Chocolate Mousse (31LE). Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a separate cup, the hot chocolate mousse was like a volcano of luscious dark chocolate with a super gooey centre and soft, cakey edges, but we felt that the ice cream didn’t really add much, especially that the gooey centre had a similar texture to melted ice cream.
All in all, we were incredibly impressed, not only by the food, but also by Kazlak’s strong identity and clear level of quality – a level that all restaurants should aim to achieve.