Fusion Peruvian- Mexican Cuisine at The New President in Zamalek
Following close on the heels of their madly successful Nikkei restaurant Izakaya in Sheikh Zayed, food guru brothers Tamer and Taymour Erian have just rolled out another not-to-be-missed eatery, this time in the heart of Zamalek aiming to be one of the best restaurnats in Zamalek. Even better news, fans of Izakaya will find some of their favorite dishes included in the menu at Mezcal.
Concept: Just in case you were wondering, last year Peru was voted “The World’s Leading Culinary Destination” at the World Travel Awards. Over the passage of time, immigrants came to Peru, bringing with them diverse cuisines with a tantalizing range of flavors and textures. Spanish, indigenous, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, African, Creole and Amazonian cultural trends became the roots of Peruvian dishes that are gaining such popularity worldwide. Today, Peruvian cuisine has distinctive elements that can stand proudly alone, or merge equally well with other cuisines to form great fusion menus.
Type of Cuisine: Upscale authentic Latino cuisine in a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere. Mezcal excels in delivering taste sensations in bite-sized portions, beautifully presented in shareable plates. Peruvian chef, Lan, has obviously coached his team well. Lime-seared salmon and fish are skillfully blended with exotic fruits like mango and pineapple, or accented with more piquant sauces and seasoning. Traditional Peruvian elements like the famed sweet potato, lime, corn and aji pepper bring total authenticity to every mouthful. The added twist comes in the range of Mexican specialties, again in easy to manage mouthfuls. Forget about your old Tex-Mex. This is the real thing, where the gastronomic legacy of Mexico can really shine.
Décor: The clue comes as you wind your way up the curving staircase, with perfectly preserved marble steps contrasting with the midnight hue of the walls and ceiling. Upon entering the bar and restaurant itself, the inky indigo interior of Mezcal sets the mood. Think jacquard embossed walls, retro art deco furniture, with a sense of ‘now’ through the use of lush velvet and luxurious leather. Lighting continues the art deco theme, and is subtle and discreet. Once again, Greek interior designer Aphrodite has worked her magic to get a stunning result. The space is shared by two distinct yet complementary areas, the well-stocked bar with high seating around handy tables, and the restaurant with more formal seating, lending itself to relaxed, but sophisticated dining.
Ambiance: There is a definite mystique, an aura of sultry entitlement. A place to charm and be charmed; where secrets are shared; where history could be made. The mood is enhanced by background music streamed directly from c-burn music consultancy in London, the go-to people for the right sounds.
Dishes Sampled: Comfortably ensconced at our table, we kicked off with signature spoons of sea bass and salmon ceviche. Flavors were fresh, tangy, fruity and complex, with high notes coming from the distinctive aji peppers, and Leche di tigre dressing. To follow up we nibbled on tiraditos, perfectly balanced mouthfuls of the freshest of fish and spices in combined textures. Plate after plate, we happily indulged to the max on quinoa salad, with punches of olive and fresh grapefruit, a trio of guacamole dips, served with fresh nachos. Then came tostadas of slow-braised beef, served on fried corn tortillas, and a variation with shrimp, chili-mayo, mango, and a palate-teasing garnish of dehydrated pickled ginger. Quite apart from the amazing range and subtlety of the favors, we reveled in the visual artistry of each dish as it arrived.
We couldn’t skip tacos, soft wheat tortillas stuffed with all sorts of delectable surprises. Salmon tartare teamed up superbly with guacamole and mango, and chicken with the Mexican answer to baladi salad hit the spot perfectly. Munching on beef and chicken empanadas with their crunchy sambousek-like casing, we wondered how we could have unashamedly worked our way through so many dishes. The trick it seems lies in the variety, and the steady flow of new offerings at just the right moment.
Dessert was a deceptively healthy-sounding quinoa and chia seed pudding, lethally laced with a massive shot of Baileys. The rich chocolate flavor was set off by a sharp raspberry coulis, dainty meringues and a scoop of ice cream. While we are sure that the booze-free option would be great as well, this was a dream combination for us.
Thumbs up: At a time when a slight edge of panic is setting-in regarding availability of foreign produce in the market, Mezcal actually uses 80% local ingredients to create its world-class dishes. Chef Lan is impressed by the quality of locally grown quinoa, and other items like legumes which are a shared staple in both Peruvian and Egyptian cuisines. The stylish interior was decorated and furnished by local craftsmen, creating both original and reproduction designs, and the crockery is proudly made in Egypt.
Beverages: There is a fully stocked bar, in addition to great fresh juice. Look out for signature cocktails, perfect to help whet an appetite for the amazing food.
Address: New President Hotel, 20 Taha Hussein Street, Zamalek
Clientele mix: The cognoscenti of the food world, and anyone who appreciates exceptional food and drink, served with panache in a great atmosphere.
Opening hours: 7 pm to 1 am daily. Last orders at 1.00 am.
Reservations: 0127 111 3764 and 0127 111 3765
Facebook and Instagram: MezcalCairo
40g red quinoa, cooked
40g white quinoa, cooked
40g sweet corn kernels
30g palm hearts
20ml extra virgin olive oil
40g cherry Tomatoes
40g Iceberg lettuce
6g pickled red onions
120g Kalamata olives
50g aji amarillo chili paste
250ml grapefruit juice
Chives (for garnish)
Kalamata Mayo: Blend the mayonnaise, Kalamata olives and aji amarilo paste for 15 seconds until smooth. Refrigerate.
Grapefruit dressing: Blend the grapefruit juice and sugar until completely dissolved
Quinoa Salad: Cook the quinoa as per packaging instructions or until the preferred texture is reached (soft or with a slight bite). Hand mix quinoa with all remaining ingredients, and add dressing to taste and Kalamata mayo droplets to decorate the top of the salad. Garnish with roughly chopped chives.