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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Le Deck: Lavish Fetar in Zamalek with a Nile View
Last year, it was one of Cairo’s favourite venues during Ramadan and this year Le Deck will probably end up high on the list again. Located on the Nile docks of Sofitel Gezirah Hotel, Le Deck has a view to die for. While most venues offer buffet-style fetar and sohour meals, Le Deck delivers straight to your table; a perk that we appreciate in Ramadan, not because we're lazy; but after having stood in line every fetar and filled our own plates, this is a nice alternative.
As soon as you arrive your table is promptly filled up with platters of bread, pickles, salad, tehina and baba ghanough as well as tarama salata. Amar el din, karkadeh and water are also presented immediately; so you have everything ready to break your fast with.
After that, all the food is handed out in perfectly timed stages. The first dish was chicken vegetable soup, which thankfully wasn’t wasted with loads of cream; instead, it was clear bouillon. After that, we received two crockery pots; one with okra and the other one with liver. The portions were extremely generous.
We were almost full after all this, but the piece de résistance had yet to come. A grill was brought to the table filled with grilled chicken, steak and kofta provided for by neighbouring restaurant El Kebabgy. In the mean time, our drinks were filled continuously. All the food is of good quality, but it is the grilled meat that you should come to Le Deck for.
After a short break we received a plate of basbousa, konafa, baa’lawa and other sweets, in addition to a pot of tea. After your meal, you can relax and enjoy the view: Le Deck doesn’t have TV screens on high volume; instead, the background music is a pleasant, smooth mix of French music with an Arabic twist.
This is the perfect time to have your shisha (26LE). We sampled the grape flavour, which was very good and the lay is changed regularly. Add to this the extremely friendly and helpful staff; and you have a perfect Ramadan night out in Cairo.
However, Le Deck doesn’t come cheap. Fetar costs 200LE per person excluding service and tax. Before you order a bottle of water, note that a bottle costs 25LE; far too high a price in our opinion. We ended up paying nearly 600LE for two fetars, a shisha, coke and water. However, it is worth every cent and you will find yourself reluctant to leave Le Deck after your heavenly fetar.
“I started crying when I lost my stars...it's like losing a girlfriend” – Gordon Ramsay. Yes, this is how big of a deal when a restaurant wins/loses a Michelin Star; it’s the Oscars of the food world, which is why the news that Le Deck was bringing Michelin Star chef, Laurent Peugeot, to oversee a revamp was a big deal – and it was a one of a kind experience.
Not only was the menu revamped, but the design of the venue has changed, too. Located inside Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah, Le Deck is a floating terrace with a breath-taking view of Cairo and the Nile at night. The new colour scheme is black and white with great touches of grey and purple, which suits the fun energy coming from the kitchen/bar in the middle and watching Chef Jordan Prot doing his magic.
We were welcomed – before even checking the menu - with two spoons of Carrot Jelly topped with crispy bits of onion. Very rich and creamy, the carrot jelly was literally bursting with flavours. So many tempting choices on the menu – which you browse through digital tablet – we couldn’t figure out what to try, so we went with Le Deck’s six-course degustation menu (580LE per person).
Originally, the appetiser was supposed to be Tomatoes Feta and Cucumber but we switched it with the Green Pea soup with mint-wasabi ice cream, because, well, how could we resist? Fresh green peas are topped with a dollop of refreshing homemade wasabi-mint ice cream that boasts a great, mildly-spicy kick, which is all then poured in a bowl of cold green pea soup, which is served separately. The soup had a spot-on consistency, amazing matching flavours, and the ice cream was like a frozen flavour bomb ready to explode in the soup.
Crispy Scale Sea Bass Fillet was the second dish on the menu, meanwhile. The moist and Flaky, yet firm, sea bass fillet had a beautiful crunch from the crispy skin, infused with zesty capers. Alongside it was with radish and sweet spinach mayo which worked perfectly with the capers. The whole dish had a perfect balance of flavours and the sea bass maintained its delicate flavours.
Moving to Dengaku Shrimp and Eggplants which consists of a two pieces of plancha-style roasted shrimp, with a side of a baby eggplant and an outstanding eggplant puree, all served on a splash of torched Dengaku sauce. The dish was beautifully presented, the perfectly cooked shrimp and the eggplant puree was a match made in heaven and the baby eggplant had a strong sour and acidic flavour, but it was balanced somehow with bitterness of the slightly burnt onion garnish.
The Dengaku shrimp was followed by a Teriyaki striploin Wagyu – Japanese beef cattle breed. Despite the presentation not matching up to the previous dish, this course was flawless, starting from the mouth-watering carrots puree and the roasted vegetables, to the perfect medium rare wagyu (as recommended by the chef) and teriyaki sauce, which had a gravy-like consistency – try it with the roasted scallion.
The last dish before dessert was Crispy Baladi Bread Goat Cheese. The idea of the dish shows that the chef was trying to merge an Egyptian element with the French-Japanese fusion in form of a deconstructed shareable dish meant to be enjoyed while having some drinks with friends. Beside the bread being a bit tough and chewy, this deconstructed fusion of sweet and salty worked.
The chef kept things equally light for dessert, with Strawberry Tartar; sweet and tart balsamic-marinated strawberries, with a basil spume and sweet red chilli pepper sorbet. Though the presentation once again didn’t match up to some of the other dishes and the idea of the dessert might seem intimidating to lesser-travelled palates, it had an exquisite diversity of textures and flavours.
All in all, there was too little to complain about at our latest visit to Le Deck. A light but fun ambiance, great view and Chef Laurent Peugeot’s revamp has given the venue its verve back. And while fusion food always sounds great on paper, Chef Laurant and the Le Deck team have applied it very impressively.