Blackstone Bistro: Making Dining Simple in Zamalek
Not to be confused with fellow Zamalek
restaurant Black Rock, Blackstone Bistro’s reputation precedes it, having built
up a crazed following in its original Maadi branch. Located on Taha Hussein
Street, the small face of the restaurant doesn’t do its size justice. The area
is like a corridor that goes deep into the building and accommodates large and
small groups. The decor is completely unremarkable, even with the schizophrenic
selection of photographs hanging on the walls. It’s clean-cut and simple
though, and its conventionality works to its favour.
Blackstone Bistro’s menu is large and
encompasses everything you’d expect from an international menu. You’ll
immediately feel at home as you deliberate over an impressive basket of bread.
The Our Salad (29LE) is a simple creation
of arugula, feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette; a combination that makes the
best of simplicity. As is the case with the best salads, Blackstone Bistro
relies on freshness and quality of ingredients. The arugula was fresh and
crisp, the cheese kept together and the balsamic tied the two together nicely.
It’s by no means a spectacular example of culinary skill, but then it isn’t
meant to be.
As one of the most expensive dishes on the
menu, the Blackstone Fillet (120LE) holds the burden of carrying the
restaurant’s name and the promise of a chocolate pepper sauce. The fillet is
served alongside a generous portion of baked potato wedges and sautéed spinach.
The latter does no more than act as decoration, while the wedges – arriving
blisteringly hot – severely lacked seasoning, though it was nothing some salt
and pepper can’t fix. They were crispy on the outside and pleasingly smooth and
soft on the inside.
The fillet itself was done slightly more
than the requested medium, but the quality of the cut of beef compensated for
any wrongdoing, but not quite enough to distract from the faintness of the
chocolate pepper sauce. With every bite, the sauce gave off a different taste;
soy sauce, cocoa and vinegar being the most evident. Whatever the reason, the
sauce just didn’t come together, but it was so faint that it had little effect
on what was a quality piece of beef.
The spinach ricotta ravioli (52LE)
triumphed where the fillet failed. A form of pasta that is seldom done
perfectly in Cairo, the small pockets were scantly stuffed with spinach and
ricotta cheese. But that didn’t matter because the pasta itself was so good
that the subtlety of the filling was perfect. Unlike the fillet, the sauce that
accompanied the dish hit the spot. The lemon herb sauce was creamy, full of
flavour and had an edge on account of the lemon.
Rounding off the meal, the Crème Brulèe
(30LE) delivered on all fronts; rich custard base and a perfectly delicate
caramel layer. It was, however, tainted by an ever so slight over-sweetness and
an overuse of orange zest.
The best thing that can be said about
Blackstone Bistro is that it does things right. The menu, despite being rather
large, is well-thought out and the kitchen invariably delivers on its promises.