Decent chefs are aplenty in Cairo, whilst exceptional ones are slightly more difficult to find. The owners of Delano, a brand new Mediterranean restaurant on Ahmed Heshmat Street in Zamalek, seem to have found an incredibly talented one though, serving up delights in a small, fashionable and contemporary venue.
The mix of classically shaped, white and wooden chairs along with sterile white walls, marble effect tables and dark wood floors creates a chic, minimalist atmosphere whilst the funky, multicoloured pop art mural hanging above the cement and glass staircase curbs any coldness by injecting some fun into the décor.
The smartly dressed waiter courteously pulled out our chairs before delivering some heavy, leather bound menus boasting a range of sophisticated dishes, from soups and salads to grills and seafood.
Once we’d ordered one tomato and bell pepper soup (25LE), mini sausages (37LE), lasagne (48LE) and grilled chicken breast with a Dijon sauce (60LE), the waiter proceeded to pour our water and brought a bread basket along with two dips; cream cheese and bright green gargeer. The bread was a selection of lightly toasted white and brown bread, several pieces spread with garlic or spring onion butter, and cheesy bread sticks, all of which went brilliantly with both the fresh, creamy, delectable dips.
Being so newly opened, the restaurant didn’t have a printed drinks menus yet, but assured us they had most things, apart from alcohol. Although the establishment doesn’t sell wine, they will happily allow you to bring your own bottle.
Feeling fruity, they dutifully fulfilled our requests of one freshly squeezed lemon juice (22LE) and an orange juice (22LE), which both surpassed our expectations and were perfectly blended, smooth and very freshly squeezed. The orange juice had the usual bitter orange kick but went down a treat.
The tomato and pepper soup arrived first as a course of its own and was pleasantly sweet and fresh with a few croutons swimming about. A piece of mozzarella bread was served on the side which was soft and nice for dipping; unfortunately it was slightly tasteless other than a charcoal-grill essence.
Next, the mini sausages arrived, marinated in a citrus sauce. The taste of the sogo’ was overpowering but they remained juicy nonetheless. At the same time, both the chicken and lasagne arrived. The chicken was carved up and swimming in an excellently creamy Dijon sauce with two equally excellent sides; creamy, parsley mashed potato and buttery, sautéed spinach. The lasagne was full of exotic flavours, herbs and spices as well as copious amounts of thick, cheesy cream and soft pasta sheets.
To finish off we went for a chocolate fondant (36LE), unusually sporting a white chocolate middle. The phenomenal creation tipped us over the edge; it was undoubtedly the best we’ve sampled, with the white chocolate complementing the milk chocolate without being too sweet – even if the helping of vanilla ice-cream on the side was a little mean.
Delano’s chef is unquestionably talented and clearly understands the importance of fresh ingredients, whilst the menu is diverse enough to suit just about everyone’s tastes.
The crowd seemed a little stiff and were mostly dressed up to the nines; we wouldn’t advise going in just jeans and a jumper unless you don’t mind feeling a little out of place.