It is always exciting to hear about a new restaurant opening up because it holds the potential of becoming the new favourite spot to grab lunch, catch up over a drink or go out on a date. Black Rock, on Al Kamel Mohamed Street in Zamalek, is categorised as a steakhouse and promises delicious flavours trapped inside of every bite.

Directly across the Aquarium Grotto Garden, Black Rock at first glance looks nothing like one would imagine. Although it’s located in an ideal location, in a truly nice area, its shiny, somewhat polished décor didn’t blend as well as we’d anticipated. The impression is that the restaurant probably serves Asian cuisine, or so the interior highly implies. A black and gold palette fills most of the wall space – with a fully gold wall taking up most of the restaurant – as well as smaller details, such as the gold menu. The chairs that almost shine in their velvet upholstery complete the somewhat overly flamboyant design. Whether or not this is a matter of taste doesn’t make a difference because either way, it does not look like a steakhouse.

The restaurant at 7:30PM was completely empty which was only nice because we got to sit by the window. It was disappointing to find a flyer on the table with what could only be described as a terrible photograph of one of the dishes; the menu itself wasn’t much more impressive with weak English and unappealing layout. The food itself was confusing. The appetisers were a combination of basic salads, traditional starters and Asian dishes. From amongst the spring rolls, tiger shrimp, Carpaccio and noodle salad, we settled for the latter. The salad (36LE) was neither wonderful nor awful. It was light and fresh but there’s nothing that really stood out about its taste; it also had too little vegetables in ratio to the noodles.

The main courses we chose were the Black Rock fillet (180LE) and Peri Peri chicken (110LE). An original approach to dining, Black Rock gives you the option of cooking your own meat on a heated slab of rock at your table, which we decided to try. The idea was interesting and we felt adventurous but it didn’t fare as well as we’d hoped. Though the process comes with a guide – telling you to cut bite sized pieces at a time to cook –our inexperience with grilling left the meat overcooked and not too appetising. The meat kept sticking to the granite, inducing a definite skin-crawl every time a piece were ripped off, feeling like a piece of Velcro. The chicken with Peri Peri sauce, that didn’t taste so Peri, was decent but had some fat and cartilage that should have been removed prior to serving. Both dishes came with a selection of dipping sauces and the chunky chips we chose as a side were more like wedges and seemed like they might have been from a frozen packet.

The cheesecake (38LE) for dessert was also served on a ‘black rock’, only this time it was cold. The portion of cake was small and elaborately styled; it tasted relatively good. Using us as guinea pigs, the manager offered a complimentary dessert of chocolate fondue, wanting our feedback as to whether it should be included on the menu. The plate of fruit was nicely varied, with added marshmallows, and the dipping chocolate was well sweetened with the right consistency, so it certainly got a yes.

The service was over eager, with a waiter almost whispering in our ears every five minutes – perhaps this was because for the most part we were the only two people there; the music, as in most places, was disengaging and for these reasons the overall ambiance wasn’t enjoyable. We understand that this is a new venue and they still have a lot to learn and improve on, however we can’t help but wonder: isn’t this in fact the time you need to be making the best impression?