Featured image: Monkey Bar & Grill – Facebook. Images: Nelly Ezz.
The President Hotel in Zamalek was always famous for its long-standing bar, The Cellar. However, when we heard that a new gastro-bar opened up in this cosy boutique hotel, we got tempted to check it out. The quirky, eccentrically-themed bar offers a specialised French menu and affordable cocktails – needless to say, we were sold.
We were delighted when we stepped into the hotel for the first time after its recent renovation. You walk across the reception area until you reach a turn to get to the entrance of Monkey Bar & Grill, where the host happily greeted us. As soon as we walked in, we immediately felt the unusual yet enjoyable vibe of the cellar-like pub. The low lighting, brass monkey ornaments, and a red colour theme all around give the place character. When we were handed the menus, we noticed that the food menu wasn’t particularly extensive, but there were a lot of alcohol options to choose from. The choices ranged from Sangria pitchers to cocktails, beers, and more.
We decided to focus on food on this visit, so as an appetiser, we opted for the Salade Au Fromage De Chevre (130LE) – mixed greens with breaded goat cheese, and honey balsamic truffle dressing. The salad was delicious; the greens were fresh, the cheese was creamy, and the dressing was utterly delicious.
For our mains, we decided on the Veggie Burger (260LE) – Beyond Burger with sides of grilled vegetables and hand-cut fries. We’ve heard the hype that Beyond Burger made when it first landed to the market as the world’s first plant-based burger. What makes it different from its likes is that it boasts the texture and the colour of beef, so we had high expectations.
Luckily, the burger did not disappoint. The grilled, smoky flavour was heavenly, while the toppings and the bread complemented it perfectly – it really tasted like a juicy beef burger; we were impressed. We then got the Saumon a La Crème de Tomates Sechees (340LE) – char-baked salmon steak in lemon butter, with sun-dried tomato cream sauce, sided with grilled vegetables and a salad. The grilled veggies had a good taste, and the salmon steak itself was properly cooked. The butter sauce, on the other hand, was hardly what was advertised. The lemon taste overpowered everything else, and the lack of seasoning made it too acidic and bland – we couldn’t take more than one bite.
Our comments were appreciatively accepted, and the dish was replaced with a Shrimp Burger (240LE) – shrimp burger patty with tartar sauce and sides of salad and fries. The shrimp patty tasted amazingly fresh and well seasoned, and the tartar sauce went well with the fluffy bread. The fries also tasted homey and crispy, while the salad was quite refreshing.
After this amazing meal, we wanted to try their Marron Brûlée (110LE) – crème brûlée made with chestnut purée with a side of fresh strawberries. Suffice to say, it was the ideal way to end the night; the crème brûlée was light and creamy, and the acidic kick of the strawberries perfectly balanced the sugar in the dessert.
Monkey Bar is definitely a place worth visiting, either for food or for drinks. Their other menu options are enticing, while the helpful and smiley staff really make you feel comfortable. We enjoyed our visit immensely and we will probably be back soon to try their cocktails out.