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Katameya, Cairo, Egypt.
The Smokery: Quality Salmon Specialist in Katameya Heights
A cobbled path will lead you downwards to the restaurant where an outdoor area surrounds a pool – perfect for group gathering and casual food and drinks. Being so cold, the indoor seating was our only option. The large glass windows, lookout onto the club and the décor is uncomplicated. Made up mostly of black and grey hues, prominent mosaic accents and tables covered in red floral tablecloths. It provides an atmosphere that is more suited to a sunny weekend morning than a rainy night.
The service was exceedingly friendly and to begin they brought us cut up carrots and cucumbers, with a salmon dip – which was nicely cold, firm, and absolutely delicious.
With a menu designed by Chef Vincent Guillou – of Tamarai fame – we started our meal with the Smokery fiesta for two (118LE) – though it could easily be enough for four. A food stand arrived with extended arms carrying a variety of salmon preparations that included choices such as cubes of salmon with olive oil and herbs, as well as lemon dressing. The highlights of the dish were easily the salmon maki rolls and salmon pâté on crostini. While all the salmon was lovely and fresh, with a melt in your mouth quality, the latter two offered more in the overall balance of taste.
Our other starter, the salmon tartare (77LE), was also very good. With a wonderfully robust salad on the side, the ingredients of the tartare were powerful and flavourful, yet still balanced enough to please unadventurous eaters.
The roasted salmon ‘St. Jaques’ (160LE) comes with scallops, seasonal vegetables, mashed potatoes, topped with a drizzle of teriyaki sauce. The fish itself was excellent, as were the scallops, and the mix of vegetables were elegant and tasty; the only slight setback was that the sauce was mildly too sweet.
The grilled salmon (118LE) is cooked in a sort of ratatouille style prepration, drenched in a sauce of fresh vegetables. Again, the salmon was grilled to perfection, and with a lovely lemon kick and the dish was as light and as healthy as a dinner can be. We also tried the salmon tagliatelle (69LE) in which we found the sauce bit too thick and all too filling . Despite that, it was still flavoursome and we ate most of it.
Settling on a crème brûlée (45LE) for dessert, we were not disappointed. With a very satisfying crack to its shell, the custard within was creamy and soft, without being overly sweet. Having given it a quick heat before serving, it was still quite cold on the bottom, though
In case you’re not a salmon fan, the Smokery also serves a few filet dishes including a beef teriyaki starter and other main courses. Otherwise, be prepared to eat a lot of that pink fish.
If you’re familiar with the Egyptian dining scene, you’ll know that sustainability is not really our strong point – quality is hit and miss, and sometimes even restaurants that have solid reputations and have been around for ages can disappoint. Case in point: if you’re a regular Gouna dinner, you may find yourself disappointed with what’s offered these days. However, we were pleasantly surprised – and relieved – to discover that the Smokery at El Gouna Yacht Club lives up to its billing.
Located towards the far end of Abu Tig Marina (on the opposite side of the new Marina to Mori Sushi, et al), the Smokery is situated right next to the marina’s lighthouse, so of course we chose to sit outdoors and admire the view despite the sweltering August heat. Craving something cold and salty, we completely bypassed their mise-en-bouche selection (35LE to 250LE) of cheese bites and fried seafood nibbles, and we went straight for their Salmon Fiesta; a selection of salmon bites including chunks of raw salmon steak, smoked salmon wraps and salmon sushi wrapped in seaweed. By the time we’d finished this generous dish and the tasty smoked fish dip they’d brought along with breadsticks, we all stared at each other in dismay. We were full. And we hadn’t even got to the main course yet.
Ignoring our stomachs and better judgement, we continued forth, and not ones to break with tradition, we ordered more salmon mains: the grilled salmon steak served with veggie nicoise and basil (around 140LE), the salmon carpaccio (85LE) and, for a change, the shrimp tempura. By this point, we were honestly frothing at the mouth from overeating, but you could hardly blame us: the salmon was so delicious and astoundingly fresh, we realised that all the other salmons we’d ever had now paled in comparison. If anything, we found that we could happily eat the Smokery salmon raw or smoked, with barely any garnish or side dishes necessarily.
Not ones to give up easily or wisely, we ordered the chocolate soufflé for dessert, which we spooned – groaning at the effort – into our tired mouths. Despite the suffocating heat, the hot chocolate was a welcome change to the salmon, although the portion could have been better. Yes, despite eating ourselves sick, the chocolate could have been bigger.
With impeccable, attentive service and a lovely outdoor setting, the Smokery makes for a quiet, classy dining destination in Gouna when you don’t want to have the DJ music and Friday night festival bands hammering into your ears. For four appetisers, two mains, one dessert and two glasses of wine, the bill totalled around 900LE; not exactly cheap but nonetheless a quality and refreshing dining experience in Gouna.