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Bella: Cairo’s Corporate-Cosy Brunch
Lunching at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza’s resident Italian restaurant Bella almost feels like dining in New York's posh Upper East Side. The hotel restaurant emanates a feeling of crisp business luxury, with grand dining chairs, banquet decor and glass table tops. This is the sort of restaurant where a bottle of Aquafina water is whisked to your table in a silver ice-bucket, like any distinguished bottle of white wine.
While hotel dining generally threatens to border on sterile, Bella is just charming enough to provide a refreshing lunch spot. The stunning Nile view gives the illusion that Cairo is nothing but scenic and serene, with a gently flowing river snaking through. The service is impeccable, though we were not partial to the Four Seasons uniform, which is reminiscent of 1950s stewardess attire without that vintage edge.
Bella offers a business lunch set menu for 175LE, which includes an antipasti, a main course and dessert. With added drinks and service charges, expect the set price to increase somewhat.
Starters include roasted eggplant and buffalo mozzarella served warm on a bed of baby greens. The Four Season's notoriously fresh ingredients, reportedly imported from select international markets, make for captivating flavours in even the simplest of dishes. The lightly cured mozzarella contrasts divinely with the tart greens and tangy sundried tomatoes. The bruschetta of fresh tomatoes is light but full of flavour, while the salads have varied greens of arugula, endives and spring lettuce, light olive oil dressing and garnishes of toasted pine nuts. The beef carpaccio is served in slices that are more substantial than usual, and the salt of the meat is balanced with a balsamic dressing.
Main courses offer a range of gnocchi, pastas, risottos and fillets. The heavenly honey-and-black-pepper-crusted salmon is cooked to perfection, with a brazed crisp exterior encasing the tender texture of the fish. The dish was accompanied by an impressive potato mille-feuille layered with tomatoes and eggplant. The New York steak was cooked to our medium-rare specifications, and marinated in rich sauce with a tasty side salad.
The coffee at Bella is excellent; the well-brewed espressos and cappuccinos prompted sighs of satisfaction around our table. With dessert, we encountered our first worry: the quartet of crème brûlée tasted oddly artificial; with a selection of vanilla, coffee, berry and pistachio crème brûlées, a few even sadly lacked the crisp brûlée surface, and instead were sub-par mousses. Our tastebuds were rescued by the chocolate molten cake, which was a dark chocolate enthusiast’s delight, while the panna cotta with berry ice cream hit the spot.
Bella brings lunch in Cairo to new heights by combining gourmet dining with casual dishes in a way that gives lunch among friends just the right among of sophistication without being stuffy.
Home to some of the most unique bars and restaurants in Cairo, the Four Seasons First Residence has long been considered one of the best hotels in the city. Its latest culinary addition comes in the way of STRADA; a chic Italian restaurant that goes all out to deliver a fine dining experience.
Located on the third floor, STRADA is hidden behind a vintage wooden door, engraved with Tuscan designs. Boasting an impressive Nile view, the setting is chic, creating an undisturbed, sophisticated mood. The venue is wide and spacious, with several different seating arrangements; we were seated alongside the window at a round, modern wooden table, with refined leather chairs with patterned backsides.
Designed with an urban-Tuscan interior, the restaurant gives off a rich, deluxe ambience. While the bright yellow shade of the walls brightens up the restaurant, the massive circular centrepiece is an Italian, stained glass window, which floods the space in natural light.
The food menu offers a variety of refined Italian dishes, covering soups, risotto, pastas and pizzas, alongside a section for fish, and another for red and white meats. The wine menu was also vast, with a selection of local and imported wine included.
For our starters, the Caprese Di Bufala (80LE) was rather standard in taste, yet ideal in portion to start off a meal. Served on a round platter was six pieces of rubbery buffalo cheese, topped off with a slice of crisp tomato, some Zucchini Linguini and a dash of Parmesan.
Moving on to the main dishes, the Salmone Arrositio (170LE) – roasted salmon, coated with glazed fennel and lemon sauce, served alongside sautéed vegetables – was flawless. Maintaining the balance between being impeccably grilled and perfectly marinated, the salmon had an external thin layer of crust, whilst remaining soft and pink on the inside.
The Risotto Porcini (120LE) transpired to be a light creamy mushroom risotto with Parmesan cheese. The dish was a little on the small side, and the risotto itself seemed rather bland and undercooked. In spite of this, the creamy mushroom sauce was impressively light.
We ended our meal with a traditional Italian dessert, the Cassette Gelato (40LE). Served with two full scoops of ice cream, and mixed with ground nuts, dried fruits and chocolate, the gelato brought a refreshing end to our three-course meal.
Though as a whole dining experience, STRADA delivers what you’d expect from an international hotel chain; however, at the time of our visit, the lofty prices simply didn’t justify the food served at the time of our visit.