Osmanly: Outstanding ‘Sultan Mahmut II’ Tasting Menu at Cairo’s Top Turkish Restaurant
Kempinski Nile, 12, Ahmed Ragab Street
It’s been almost four years since our last visit to Kempinski Nile Hotel’s Osmanly, which is one of the few restaurants to have ever scored a perfect five-star rating. The hype was real when we entered the restaurant and our expectations were sky high and the result was very impressive.
We wanted to give Osmanly the ultimate test, so we ordered Sultan Mahmut II’s Tasting Menu (350LE per person) which consists of lentil soup, a selection of cold & hot mezzes, a main dish from two choices (although they’re flexible and let us pick any main we want) and kunefe. While waiting for our food to come, the waiter came with jasmine-scented water and a bowl to wash our hands at the table as the royals used to do.
Starting our meal with outstanding Turkish Pita Bread topped with nigella and sesame seeds, served with Garlicky Cream Cheese with Olives, Pomegranate Molasses-Infused Olive Oil, and Spicy Tomato with Nuts for dipping, we loved how the bread was soft with crispy edges, and the dips were just as good.
After that, we received a plate with a small portion of sautéed lentils with caramelised onions topped a slice of crispy Turkish bread, which was then showered with hot Lentils Soup. The soup was seasoned-well and had a perfect consistency – not too thick, not too runny – as well as a bold garlic flavour in the lentil mash. The bread still maintained a crunch, too, even though it was swimming in a bowl of hot soup.
Moving to an exquisite mezze fiesta, we received a nine-compartment glass plate full of mezze deliciousness. The plate had six cold mezze – Spicy Tomato, Couscous, Carrot-Infused Labneh, Mint-Infused Labneh, Seafood Mix and Hummus – but the carrot-infused labneh was the star combo, with the the carrot sweetening the tart creaminess of the labneh perfectly. It was nothing less for the three hot mezze, either; the Fried Rice-Stuffed Kufta with tomato and yogurt sauce had a great diversity of textures and exquisite flavours, the grilled Halloumi with Pomegranate Molasses was simplicity at its best, and both pastrami and spinach borek – stuffed Phyllo pastry – had a scrumptious crust and a spot-on amount of stuffing.
As for the mains, we ordered ‘Today’s Special’ and turned out to be the highlight of the meal. A layer of sliced crispy Turkish bread topped with kufta and drizzled with garlicky yogurt and tomato sauces, the special should be regular on the menu! Surprisinngly, the Kufta was made of lamb, but didn’t have that distinctive smell of smell good quality lamb; either way, the texture of it was firm yet juicy, while the crispy bread absorbed all the flavours of the sauces and added a beautiful crunch.
We also tried Osmanly’s signature dish, Hunkar Begendi; tomato braised beef smothered with char-grilled eggplant cream and beef jus. The eggplant cream was rich and worked well with the tomato flavour in the tender beef, but overall it was a bit salty and really heavy – heavy enough to make you feel guilty, but it’s definitely worth the calories.
Few people believe in the quote, “No matter how much I eat, there is always room for dessert,” as we do and we finished off our feast with Kunefe, which comes in the form of unsalted mozzarella cheese topped with crumbled konafa and a sprinkle of crushed pistachios. The sweetness was on point, the cheese was melted to perfection and we loved the presentation of the dish.
Like with any great meal, we didn’t want our evening at Osmanly to end; the Kempinski’s crown jewel of a restaurant ticks all the boxes: unique atmosphere, helpful and welcoming staff and flawless food – but the receipt might make your wallet cry.