Flambé: Fine Dining Done Right at Heliopolis Restaurant
66 Omar Ibn El Khattab St.
Outside of the city’s hotels, the concept of fine dining is rather misunderstood in Cairo – it’s simply not an excuse to serve overpriced food in small portions. However, there are a handful of restaurants that have come close to presenting fine dining as it should be and one of them is Flambé.
Located on Heliopolis’ Omar Ibn El-Khattab Street, Flambé has a very elegant and chic ambiance which makes it a perfect destination for a romantic date. The restaurant has an area for dining which is next to the huge, exquisite bar and an exposed kitchen. For more casual gatherings, Flambé also has a high tables area next to the terrace that is perfect to catch up with friends over drinks.
We kicked things off with Smoked Duck Rolls (50LE) as an appetiser – summer rolls filled with ginger-infused smoked duck and drizzled with sweet Thai chilli sauce. Aside from the fact that it was served with our mains, the smoked duck was very bland, the summer roll was very thick and didn’t have that transparent rice paper beauty to it, while the sweet Thai chilli wasn’t sweet, Thai, or chilli, and was more of a sour sauce.
Moving to the mains, we opted for the Mushroom Risotto (90LE); creamy, rich, perfectly-seasoned and with a spot-on al dente texture, the risotto is mixed with a hint of truffle oil and generous amount of shiitake and white mushrooms that absorbed the flavours while adding a great earthy flavour to the dish overall. Also topped with grana padano tiles, this flawless dish had a terrific balance of flavours and more than made up for the appetiser.
Our other main, Beef Fillet Gratin (185LE), was just as good. Despite the slightly thin gravy – strangely served in a shot glass – the perfectly cooked medium tenderloin was topped with a superb cheesy mushroom gratin and served with braised asparagus and a fantastic potato terrine, which added a great crunchy component to the dish.
We finished our meal with White Chocolate Mascarpone (75LE) for dessert. Bringing together white chocolate mascarpone with what sounded like a perfectly suited caramelised dark chocolate soil and candied orange peel, the description of the dessert on the menu made us drool, but reality hit us hard when it arrived to our table. The candied orange peel was, in fact, nothing more than orange jam, which overpowered the very thin layer of mascarpone and the dark chocolate soil, which tasted and felt similar to chocolate pudding.
It all left us a little confused; we loved Flambé’s ambiance and its excellent main dishes, but the service was poor (we had to make some of our order more than once) and the elements that did disappoint at the time at the time of our visit, (namely the appetiser and the dessert) did so quite badly. Would we go again? Yes, but in the hope that these fixable issues are fixed.