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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Roy's Country Kitchen: American Dining at the Cairo Marriott Hotel
Hotel restaurants in Cairo often adopt diverse, international cuisines – none more so than the Cairo Marriott Hotel's Roy's Country Kitchen; as it's name suggests, the rustic diner brings patrons a taste of America.
The walls are adorned with vintage ads, while the waiters are dressed in plaid shirts and jeans – all they're missing is the cowboy boots and hat.
The kitschy theme continues with its menus, too; shaped like chopping boards, the three menus at Roy's split service into breakfast, lunch and dinner, boasting a broad selection of mouth-watering American and international dishes.
We ordered a plate of salad from the salad bar (65LE) along with a Super Platter (95LE) for starters. For our main courses, we enjoyed both a grilled chicken breast platter (90LE) and a seafood burger (105LE).
Conveniently tucked in a corner of the restaurant, the salad bar offers a plethora of ingredients that taste every bit as good as they look. Tubs of fresh vegetables – including cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, lettuce and cucumbers – are on one side, while the other holds interesting variations of potato, beetroot, cheese and mushrooms salads. All the options are kept fresh and crisp and are of the highest quality – including the dressings.
No American diner is complete without a range of appetizers and the Super Platter was by no means disappointing, if distinctly unexceptional. Fried cheese, halloumi with tomato, onion rings and potato wedges were accompanied with three dips of blue cheese, fresh country salsa and honey mustard.
Moving onto our mains, the chicken breast dish came with a mix of grilled vegetables and a wonderfully sautéed serving of spinach. The chicken itself was grilled perfectly, thick and tender, and a dash of barbeque sauce only made it more succulent.
Garnished with a flavourful tartar sauce, the seafood burger, served with a green salad and fries on the side, tasted of a pleasantly generic seafood mixture, although it was hard to pinpoint what seafood critters had been grounded into the patty.
We couldn't leave without indulging in one of Roy's Country Kitchen's four desserts; blueberry cheesecake, apple almond pie, walnut praline sweet potato pie and banana bread pudding with caramel sauce – each for 60LE. Torn between the apple almond pie and banana bread, the tempting caramel sauce made us settle on the latter. Shortly after ordering we were informed that the venue was out of the accompanying ice cream. Regardless, the pudding was warm and soft in its texture and, even with without ice cream, tasted wonderful. The viscous caramel sauce drenched the banana bread and gave it the perfect sweetness. The only downside was that the portion was rather small.
Last time Cairo 360 visited Roy's Country Kitchen, we came away with a regretfully poor dining experience. After a recent hiatus, however, the restaurant has re-emerged with good food and high quality service that is recommended to anyone out for some good ol' American cookin'.
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.