While we have always been willing to make the drive into town to Pier88’s Nile-side Zamalek venue, and been firm fans forever of the flagship El Gouna restaurant, we admit we were head-over-heels with excitement about the launch of the new gem in Pyramid Hills Compound off Cairo-Alex Desert Road. Our visit more than exceeded our expectations.
Signatures Dishes & Dishes Sampled
Expect creative food pairings, contemporary twists to traditional elements, an accolade to global cuisines, created by Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Diana. The set-menus with wine pairings created by Chef Giorgio encompass the passion and inspiration that goes into his cooking, so are definitely a ‘must try’. They are more of a dégustation, a journey of the senses. We know, we lived the experience and will be back for more.
We had decided to leave the choice of menu for our dinner in the hands of Chef Giorgio. Smart call, as with so many intriguing options we would not have known where to start. Our palates were primed with an aperitif of elderflower syrup, sparkling wine and soda with a muddle of fresh mint, accompanied by yucca chips, to be swiftly followed by a tempting selection of fresh bread, with a trio of savory butters. The amuse bouche that came alongside was picture perfect. A dainty cube of tuna sashimi resting on tiny green beans, accented with champagne foam. Before we had time to delve back into the irresistible bread basket we found ourselves sipping a Canadian lobster and pumpkin soup. Served inside a scooped-out baby pumpkin, the Hokkaido Pumpkin Soup was rich in flavour and a delight to delve into.
Course after course arrived, scallops served on oven-charred celery root, complemented by lavender and tonka bean foam and caramelized pumpkin seeds, followed by King Crab tortellini, the squid-ink pasta in carefully formed little ears and resting in a truffle infused oil and flavour-packed espuma. Just at the right moment we found ourselves dipping into an intense lemon sorbet which cleared our palates for a new adventure. Wild grouper with both white and green asparagus, baby broccoli, grapes and saffron foam preceded the meat course of the evening. Our Pistachio Crumbed Lamb was just the right shade of pink, melt-in-the-mouth tender, with lilac carrot, parsnip purée, spring onion, baby green beans and a superb, deep flavoured port wine jus.
Portions were just right, delicate but satisfying, as the diverse flavors gave our taste buds plenty of excitement. Visually, every dish was a delight, frivolous at times, but never too self-important.
Which left dessert. Who could say no to a combination of pistachio biscuit, salty vanilla caramel, caramelized cashews, Caraïbe Cream Chantilly and milk chocolate Cream Chantilly? A combination made in heaven. Just as we had settled back to relax and reflect on our amazing four-hour gastronomic experience, we found yet another temptation in the form of miniscule macarons. Brightly colored and infused with a whirlwind of flavors, they were savored unto the very last crumb. Our thanks to brilliant Chef de Pâtisserie, Johnny. It was a fitting end to an exceptional dinner.
Other Menu Options that Appealed & Beverages Available
We would make a trip back in a heartbeat to try Insalata Gamberi E Avocado , with black tiger prawns, avocado guacamole, mustard green leaves and raspberry sorbet, or Filetto Di Tonno , a black sesame crusted tuna fillet with green peas and 18- year- old Aceto Balsamico di Modena. Just thinking about it makes our head spin.
Beverage options include amazing cocktails, full bar and an impressive wine list, with plenty of soft options also available. Great mock-tails.
The atmosphere is calm and relaxing, with a touch of art-deco edginess on the ceiling adding visual appeal. Colors are subtle, and large picture windows invite the surrounding greenery in. Seating in plush velvet adds a luxurious feel, and tables are arranged to allow maximum privacy while still enjoying the view of the verdant greenery outside. The service was spot-on, seamlessly smooth and unobtrusive, as would be expected by any venture with Giovanni Bolandrini at the helm. In short, the whole feel was magical, and so romantic we would make Pier88 top of our list for the ultimate date night.
Clientele mix: Chic, cosmopolitan, 30s upwards. Definitely a good choice for discerning diners who also appreciate being able to converse over an exceptional meal.
Price range: Upscale, but well worth the splurge.
Opening hours: 7 pm till 1 am on weekdays and till 3am on weekends. Sundays closed. Brunch and lunch are both planned for the near future.
Address: Pyramid Hills Compound, Cairo – Alexandria Desert Road
Tel: 0120 0009546
Facebook: Pier88 Group
TripAdvisor: Pier88 NileRiver