Branzino: Bountiful but Bumpy Buffet at Dusit Thani Lakeview Cairo
There is certain level of quality that is to be expected when visiting a restaurant at any hotel, but that classic hard-to-maintain balance is always over the edge when it comes to buffets. Located at New Cairo’s Dusit Thani Lakeview, Branzino is no exception; on the surface, it ticks all the boxes of a top hotel restaurant, but can it avoid tumbling into the quality-quantity booby-trap?
Branzino reserves a corner space in the hotel’s lobby with a section of its bar overlooking the fountain and seating area. Boasting a mostly black and red design in its furniture, it offers a sense of contrast and class with a calming elegance.
Starting our brunch buffet (380LE++ per person), we headed for the salad bar with the apple salad being our first option, followed by pasta, mushroom and shrimp salads. There were also other options including cold cuts and pickles, alongside a whole pastry and small sushi bars and sauces and condiments such as Thousand Island dressing and mango chutney.
The apple salad had a refreshing mix of walnuts, apple, lettuce, strawberries and mayonnaise, giving it an amazing sweet flavour with a hint of savoury making it an excellent start to our brunch. Following suit was the pasta salad which, mixed in with some bell peppers for an extra punch of flavour, was tenderly cooked. Meanwhile, the shrimp were cooked to perfection, offering a delightful contrast to the rest of the salads.
The appetiser bar offered mostly a range of Oriental mezzas and dishes, including hawawshi, mombar, hummus, vine leaves and a mix of cheese and beef sambosaks. The sambosak had a nice crispy, crunchy exterior with a soft tender interior with a nicely seasoned minced beef in the beef ones, nice minty gooey cheese in the cheese ones.
The vine leaves, meanwhile, had a nice acidic taste to them, but were a bit too cold. As for the hawawshi it had a well-seasoned beefy flavour inside nice oven-cooked baladi bread.
There were several international dishes when it came to the mains, including chicken curry, sweet and sour chicken, stir fry chicken, steamed chicken dumplings, noodles, shish tawook, and beef kofta.
The chicken curry was spectacular; it was spiced nicely and the tender chicken breasts pieces were cooked to a perfect tenderness. The sweet and sour chicken, however, needed a little bit more work, as it was more sour than sweet.
The stir fry chicken – which was mostly thighs mixed with bell peppers – was fine, but lacked in the spices department, while the noodles were tender and had a nice seasoning to them making them a perfect side dish.
We also tried the shawerma, which had an intense spice to it offering a nice Levant dish to the buffet. While needing a little salt, the potato wedges were great, infused with some spices making it one of our favourite side dishes. One of the worst foods we tried at the time of our visit was the beef medallion; in addition to being unevenly cooked, the indiscernible sauce it was served in had little to no seasoning.
Finally we turned our attention to the desserts section, which, strangely, was located outside of the restaurant and taking part of the lobby. It offered a range of desserts, including mini gateaux, cheesecake glasses, baklava, konafa and more.
With a creamy smooth texture, the cheesecake glasses were topped withcaramel, raspberry and a macaroon, all while sitting on a crunchy, sweet crust. There was also some coned baklava filled with whipped cream topped with honey, making for a nice creamy and sweet balance.
In the end, Branzino’s brunch buffet has plenty to offer when it comes to quantity; but the all-round disappointing main dishes and their disconnection from each other pulled us out of the experience, luckily the desserts pulled us back from the brink into a sugar induced trance. A seesaw-experience we is always a possibility when it comes to buffets, but Branzino ‘s version lacks an x-factor.