Monday, January 30, 2006

Four Seasons, Cairo, Egypt -- Dinner at Steaks

This amazing display of flowers, willow and bamboo decorates the lobby of the ultra-luxurious Four Seasons hotel in Cairo.

Steaks is one of the restaurants in the very lavishly appointed new Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo. Situated by the Nile near the Hyatt, Intercontinental, and the Nile Hilton, the Four Seasons stands out as the poshest hotel in this area of very posh hotels.

There are a variety of hotels, but Dr. A knew that this would be a good choice, and he had been there before. He was especially interested in my trying the tenderloin of Australian Wagyu Beef, but, unfortunately it was no longer on the menu. We had the tenderloin of Australian Angus Beef instead. It came in two sizes: 180 grams ($31) or 240 grams ($42). We both had the the smaller size -- a wise choice because you really do get a lot to eat at this restaurant because they bring you a dish of pâté to start with. It comes with a delicious loaf of crusty home made bread, little pearl onions and cornichons. Then came a bowl of cream of carrot soup -- tasting of real carrots with a dollop of cream on top. (These starters are included in the price of the main course.) The main course, the steak, really was memorable. I ordered mine very rare, and it was so tender that you could slice it with the back of the knife. But unlike many very tender steaks it was full of flavor. We had a side order of very good gratin potatoes ($1.75) and some sautéed garlic mushrooms ($1.75).

For dessert, I had an amazing chocolate assortment ($5.25), which consisted of a little chocolate cake, a chocolate mousse, and some chocolate ice cream. Dr. A went for subtlety and had a Lemon Meringue Pie ($5.25), which was good, rich, and had crispy pastry as its base.

Our wine experience was interesting at the Four Seasons. A couple of years ago on my last trip here I was warned that Egyptian wine was uniformly awful, but Dr. A encouraged me to order Château des Rêves 2005 ($31), which is described as a Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was pleasant enough though I found it not at all like a Cabernet at all. It was more like a Beaujolais! When the waiter asked me if I liked it, I told him that I didn't like it all that much, and he suggested bringing us a Cape Bay from South Africa ($31), but bottled in Egypt. This wine was passable though it had a strange taste of fresh cork.

The wine list was fairly comprehensive, but, imported wine in Egypt are very expensive indeed. For example, if you were in the mood for Champagne (and you really liked your guest), you could get Cristal Roederer for ($1046) or Brunello di Montalcino from Castello Banfi, 1999, for $523. Even wines that are relatively inexpensive in other countries were very highly priced. For example, Jacob's Creek Merlot, 2003, would set you back $104!

Other items on the menu included Dover Sole ($24), Grilled salmon steak ($15.70), Australian veal cutlet ($33), or grilled lamb chops ($18.30).

All in all, this was a very good meal in a delightful setting. The traveler is well advised to watch wine prices since they can set you back a small fortune even if you are drinking fairly modest wines.

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