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Abu Tig Marina, El Gouna, Egypt.
Maritim: Swedish Seafood and Snacks in El Gouna
Situated on one of the main points of Abu Tig Marina in El Gouna, Maritim is one of the best restaurants for a soothing breakfast, mid-day snack or better yet; a quiet, unfussy dinner. The Swedish owners decided to keep the style and menu of this place simple, while maintaining the marina atmosphere. Maritim is decked out in comfortable brown chairs with baby-blue cushions, marble tables, a simple, white round bar and the distinguished mast-like material and poles covering the area from above.
The menu and colours of the set-up give off the Swedish essence of the restaurant. Serving breakfast till 1PM, their breakfast dishes include the Maritim breakfast, which consists of omelette, cheese, turkey, croissant, a basket of bread and jam, coffee and orange juice at an affordable 32LE, and the English breakfast (also 32LE).
This reviewer sampled their renowned Skagen toast, a concoction of salmon mousse and caviar on buttered toast with a small salad on the side (45LE), as well as the warm side of potato gratin with melted cheese (15LE) and the tasty seafood roll; a mix of shrimp, crab meat and calamari rolled into a crêpe with béchamel, dill and cheese melted to perfection (80LE).
Other famous items on the menu include their mushroom cappuccino soup (35LE), named after its cappuccino colour, and the beef penne (65LE). The menu also has a variety of seafood dishes such as their grilled salmon steak (79LE), the surf and turf dish: a combination of steak and grilled shrimp for around 100LE, and their seafood platter (195LE) of shrimps, mussels, yellow fin tuna and calamari. Lighter options include the salmon mousse and smoked salmon platter (around 50LE) as well as salads such as Caesar salad with shrimp (45LE), chicken pesto salad (39LE) and Maritim caprese (42LE), which unfortunately were not that impressive.
Maritim also serves local wine and beer: a bottle of Heineken or Stella will cost you approximately 25LE and a glass of wine starts at around 36LE and upwards depending on the brand. Maritim also serves fresh juices, soft drinks and coffees, all ranging between 20LE to 30LE.Maritim isn't necessarily one of the ‘in’ places to eat at in El Gouna, so you don’t have to dress up; instead, be completely at ease here and enjoy your meal with a perfect view of the glistening, open sea and all the neat yachts docked nearby.
Over the last year or so, new restaurants in Cairo have been introducing more and more exotic cuisines to the dining scene, be it Mongolian or even Peruvian with a Japanese twist, leaving classic favourites like Italian and Asian last week’s news. However, recently opened restaurant, Akli, has gone against the tide and specialises in not only one cuisine, but six, across everything from soups to desserts.
Located off Meccas Street in Dokki, Akli is divided into two zones; the ground floor, which has a exposed glass-wall baking room and shawerma station that wasn’t working at the time of our visit, is made for take-out orders, while the top floor is for dining-in. Besides the unfinished ceiling – which doesn’t seem like it will be finished because the AC duct has already been installed - the interior of the restaurant is on the classic side, with olive green, traditional panelled walls behind ruby buttoned couches. The setup of its tables is also pretty basic, but it actually has a cheerful view of a mini garden. If we were to compare it to another restaurant, Akli has the same spirit of everyone’s favourite, Bon Appetit.
Now let’s talk about the food. Our first flight was to Italy with Spicy Arancini Di Manzo (25LE). Starting from the spot-on creamy texture and the scrumptious golden brown crust, to the melted mozzarella cheese and minced beef, which was bursting with Italian herbs flavours, those four fried Italian rice balls were rather tasty.
Our second stop was at our beloved country with Sojouk (42LE). Lying on a bed of chopped parsley in true 90’s style, the grilled sausage was seasoned well, but it was a bit tough and dry. Overall, though, the appetiser seemed incomplete and needed some kind of a sauce or a dip with it.
Moving to the mains, we opted for the Greek Shrimp Saganaki (120LE). Made of perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp in tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese, the dish was a good one, but it wasn’t Saganaki. There was too little cheese to the flavour and the tomato sauce didn’t have any Greek flavours and tasted like Egyptian vegetable stew. One the other hand, the side of lemon rice added a good zesty flavour to the dish.
We also tried Adana Kebab (89LE) from the Turkish side of the menu. Two pieces of kofta laying on Lebanese bread and served with tahini dip and basmati rice topped with nuts, the dish didn’t capture anything particularly Turkish. Although the kofta was seasoned well and the rice was light and fluffy, the dish was overpriced – it’s almost exactly the same as Shawarmaister’s Kofta Halabi Platter which costs 45LE.
We finished our meal with the French Nougat Glace (27LE) for dessert; a rectangular slice of flawless vanilla ice cream filled with mini bits of pistachio and dried fruits. It was served with sour cherry syrup with a very sticky consistency, but the dessert as a whole was light and well executed.
There’s something about what Akli is trying to do that you can’t help but appreciate – but it’s not an easy job to perfect six different cuisines in one kitchen. The ambiance of the restaurant will take you back in time when you used to dine in a sporting club with the family and the food was, overall, good but there’s nothing remarkable about it.