Stone and neutral colours breath new life into the place whilst the subtle use of plants and pebbles helps to bring the outdoors in; even the old dark wood tables have had their own white-wash facelift. Some dark accents still remain, though; for example, wood panelling is used to cover one of the walls and several large pillars, however, the funky multicoloured cove lighting and the impressive marble bar halt any feeling of dinginess.
Although an awful lot better than before, the minimalist theme leaves the place feeling a little uncomfortable, particularly as the tables were left clear of any customary decorations; even the standard table mat and cutlery appeared to be non existent.
Settling in our seats we scoured the vast list of chicken dishes, meat grills, pizzas, pastas, risottos, soups and salads hoping that the chef had also managed to get in on the rejuvenation. With so much to choose from, we turned to the separate specials menu for advice.
After weighing up our options, we eventually decided on the potato soup with beef bacon (20LE), Italian stuffed chicken (59LE) and the chicken with honey and mustard (56LE), both of which come with the standard choice of two sides.
Along with these, we ordered a sunshine cocktail – with Sprite – (15LE) from their extensive drinks menu, as well as a double espresso (16LE). The waiter seemed unfamiliar with the menu, regurgitating an alien order back to us – of course, we swiftly corrected him and no harm was done.
Luckily, shisha smokers are no longer confined to just the outdoor space. From what we gathered, the terrace area has decreased in size, although this may just be for winter. Not wanting to sit in the cold anyway, we were glad to be able to order one melon shisha (25.5LE) whilst sitting comfortably in the warmth.
Unfortunately, we waited a long time for our food but the drinks, a quality, fruity shisha and the company of our group kept us entertained.
When our food did arrive – with no pause between the soup and the mains – we were immediately impressed by the portion servings. The soup bowl was averagely sized but deep, filled with deliciously creamy potato soup and beef bacon bits which added a meaty, salty twang.
The generous chicken dishes were steaming hot when they were placed on our table. The chicken strips were tender, served with fluffy white rice and smooth, mashed potato with added pieces of spring onion, which gave it a fresh and slightly unusual taste. The sauce was brilliantly creamy whilst being a perfect balance of both honey and mustard.
However, our favourite of the two was the Italian stuffed chicken. Flavoured with basil and other herbs, it was also covered in a creamy sauce but with the rich addition of sun dried tomatoes. The robust spring onion mash complimented the dish perfectly and the boiled vegetables were both fresh and satisfyingly soft.
The new look La Pietra is a world away from the original; even the chef has upped his game, creating a menu worth exploring and a venue worth visiting.