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Abu Tig Marina, El Gouna, Egypt.
Lobster Rooster: Food-Truck Set to Be Summer Favourite in El Gouna
With summer on the way, one of everyone's favourite seaside destinations will almost definitely be El Gouna. Besides the relaxed atmosphere, casual sense of luxury and exquisite views, El Gouna is known for its addictively good food – the kind that will make you kiss goodbye your beach-bod and say hello to the dad-bod; but an eye-catching kiosk called Lobster Rooster could prove to be particularly popular.
Located at Marina Abu Tig, Lobster Rooster is essentially a stationary food-truck strategically placed and standing out with its vibrant colours. The use of white with red and black – in everything from the logo and the doodling on the kiosk, to the tables, chairs and even the ashtrays – gives the place a fun vibe, as does the varied seating arrangements.
As with most food truck-like concepts, Lobster Rooster keeps things simple, serving only two savoury rolls – lobster roll (100LE) and rooster roll (60LE) – and one dessert, the Brioche Con Gelato roll (30LE).
Supposedly drizzled with mango, the rooster roll was bursting with flavours and perfectly seasoned, but we didn't feel the presence of the mango. The brioche bread rolls themselves were perfectly toasted on the outside, which added an exquisite crunch that made way for the super buttery and soft interior with every bite.
Though we were keener to try the lobster roll – considering it costs 100LE – it was rather disappointing. To its credit, the generous amount of lobster chunks mixed the Lobster Rooster's secret sauce held together and didn't become soggy as one might expect. However, there was no need for the extra butter lemon sauce on the side, considering that the sandwich already had a zesty kick thanks to the secret sauce. Most disappointing of all, though, was that the lobster was noticeably not fresh and the particular taste of old seafood was difficult to escape
All the rolls are served with homemade French fries, which were well-cooked and perfectly seasoned. Unfortunately, the Brioche Con Gelato was unavailable at the time of our visit, but all in all, the concept of Lobster Rooster is a perfect fit for El Gouna – it's quick, on-the-go kind-of food that's a little different. However, with the small sandwiches costing 60LE and 100LE, you can't help but be a little disappointed when they're not perfect.
When Zamalek institution, La Bodega, closed down at the beginning of 2014, it left a hole in many a heart. While a beachside iteration has since popped up on the North Coast during Sahel Season, its closure has certainly left a gap that not even its replacement, the phenomenal U Bistro, has been able to quite replace in the same way.
But remnants still remain in the form of sister venue, Aperitivo, located on the same floor of the same building. It’s by no means similar in appearance or, one could argue, atmosphere, but La Bodega regulars have adopted it as a replacement and the spirit is very much cut from the same cloth. For those not familiar with Aperitivo, the bar and restaurant maintains a classic element in its décor and design (think wood and glass cabinets displaying various piece of crockery and ornaments) while also using various more modern pieces (the chandeliers are very cool).
Divided into two sections – the bar and the restaurant proper – there isn’t a lot that will jump out at you in its appearance; but that’s the best way to be for a venue of this standing – demure and unpretentious.
There’s been something of a revolution happening at Aperitivo as of late, including the launch of a new menu; one that walks the line between high-end culinary delicacy and the kind of wholesomeness you get with bistro food.
The concise but varied menu covers soups, salads, meat and poultry dishes, as well as pastas and seafood, which is where we began our evening.
We rarely give up the opportunity to try a dish with scallops in it – not only because it’s a rare commodity in Cairo, but because it’s also often mishandled, which felt like the case with Aperitivo’s seared scallop starter (155LE). While it was a creative and enticing dish, the scallops were slightly overcooked, the accompanying black truffle was too little, though the spiced apple puree that also accompanies the dish gave a pleasant sweetness to every bite despite tasting more like a beetroot puree. Meanwhile, four sticks of asparagus were cooked and seasoned perfectly, while a faint balsamic reduction did little to elevate the rest of the ingredients.
Among the menu’s salads, we were seduced by the camembert salad, which brought together generous chunks of deep-fried camembert cheese together with mixed greens, roasted pears, sundried tomatoes and walnuts. The greens were fresh, the sundried tomatoes added a sweet acidity to thick, pungent cheese and the walnuts gave the whole dish an earthy touch. However, the pears were undetectable, which is a real shame as it could have been the ingredient that brought everything together.
While various mains are included in the new menu, we decided to test the kitchen’s mettle with meats. Despite being served with far too much uncooked fat, a medium-cooked sirloin steak (150LE) was full of flavour and served in a very big portion, alongside some perfectly made oven baked vegetables. Our second dish, the roast veal fillet, was also of a noticeably good quality and served in a large portion, though it was unevenly cooked, meaning some pieces were a little tough and others had a perfect pink interior.
Unfortunately, there was not much else to talk about with the mains, despite the menu promising more; the veal dish, for example, should come with roast pumpkin ad soft polenta, but both were missing from the plate, as was the roasted garlic on the steak dish.
This, actually, defined our meal; what we were served was well-made, but with so much missing from both mains – as well as the missing pear from the salad – severely dwindling what promised to be a fine evening of fine dining. Would we go again? Absolutely – the new menu reads fantastically; but maybe the kitchen needs a little more time to perfect it.