Atlantis: Step Aside Sequoia, There’s a New Nile-Side Hotspot in Manial
74 Abdel Aziz Al Seoud St.
The island of El Manial is probably Cairo’s most up-and-coming neighbourhood. With the addition of café hubs Blue Blue and The Nile Lounge, the Abdel Aziz Al-Saudi corniche has definitely become a social hot spot. The only thing keeping El-Manial from catching up with its sister island, Zamalek, is the absence of high quality dining. That may just be about to change, thanks to the opening of Atlantis.
We weren’t quite sure what to expect, as we walked through the glass doorway, past the LED screens boasting pictures of the restaurant’s dishes. Was it a strictly seafood venue, or would there be a range of options? Once we were guided past the fountain and special-occasion-boat, and handed four very heavy menus, we realised it’s the latter. The menu had a large scope of options ranging from Tex-Mex to Oriental platters to their specialty, seafood. The friendly waiter, who had been working there since before the Atlantis company took over Quay – the previous restaurant – took our orders down on a smart tablet.
For an appetiser, we decided to munch on mozzarella sticks (32LE), which were surprisingly not at all greasy, as they tend to be, and were decently seasoned with a light layer of breadcrumbs mixed with oregano flakes that didn’t just peel off of the cheese stick. The marinara that came with it tasted pretty authentic and was a nice change from the watered down pizza sauce places here usually serve.
As we waited for our main courses, we took in our surroundings; a large aquarium against the far wall filled with exotic fish, the glistening Nile view, the loud Top40 music that the waiter kindly turned down so we could hear each other speak (what is it restaurants don’t seem to get about the concept of dining music?). We sipped on deliciously creamy Cuba Cabanas (30LE), which were composed of mango juice, caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream and a strong coconut milk flavour.
Our mains – Grilled Salmon (98LE) and Chicken Shish Tawook (65LE) – both came with a choice of two sides, which were yummy enough to be promoted to main-course status; the sautéed vegetables retained their crunch and were seasoned with just the right amount of thyme and pepper, while the mashed potatoes were smooth and buttery. The Suprême fillet of salmon was drizzled with a tangy dill-infused hollandaise sauce that was neither too thick nor watery – just right. The excellently charred pieces of Shish Tawook chicken breast were generously large and succulent, with a light seasoning salt paste. The fries that came with it were also sprinkled with seasoning salt, but not to an overpowering degree.
We almost didn’t want to leave room for desert – the Atlantis Ice Cream Sandwich (35LE). Sadly, Egypt has yet to grasp the concept of both the American-style and British-style ice cream sandwich, but the version of ice cream with a layer of biscuit crumbs on top and beneath we were served was still a nice addition to our meal. It would have helped if the item’s description on the menu was a bit clearer, as it merely listed a choice of Oreo, brownie or biscuit ‘sandwiches’.
Step aside Sequoia; the area is quieter and actually has parking (!!), while the venue is right on the Nile and the menu is more extensive without sacrificing quality. Did we mention the minimum charge is 100LE and only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday? Plus Sequoia selfies are getting old – who needs floral fabrics when you can feel like you’re on a ship, surrounded by blue velvet and submarine windows? It’s a nice place for a birthday get-together also, as the waiters play an Egyptian remix of Happy Birthday and dance for you.
The restaurant is also family-friendly, in that it has a supervised play room where kids can paint chalk figurines for 10LE-50LE (depending on size; 50LE for 1ft-tall figurine), a pool filled with magnetic sea creatures so they can go ‘fishing’ for 25LE, and a free access jungle-gym.