The Grill is Back and Better than Ever
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Photo by: Mohamed Allouba
The Semiramis InterContinental reopens its famed French restaurant
By Ethar El-Katatney
The Grill at Semiramis Inter-Continental was an integral part of my childhood. The hot towels, towering chandeliers and red rose given to every female when leaving are forever ingrained in my memory. A dedicated food connoisseur, I was left desolate when The Grill closed for renovation almost two years ago. Try as I might, I could find no substitute.
But my patience has finally been rewarded, as the French restaurant has reopened its doors to beckon me with its opulence. While the neoclassical elegance has been replaced with cool modernism and Christofle cutlery, the ambience still rivals the original, with a pianist spelling out Mozart in the background.
My Pakistani dinner companion — with a taste palate as discriminating as my own — and I were first treated to complimentary amuses-bouche (French for “mouth amusers”) of foie gras royale. Although the paté was a little too sour for my taste, I could see the couple sitting at a nearby table wolfing theirs down. With a waiter hovering nearby to refill our glasses with Evian water (priced at LE 36 a bottle) and offer us bread rolls fresh out of the oven, we basked in the luxury of a night out.
We ordered drinks while waiting for our appetizers, and both my partner’s fruit cocktail (LE 20) and my mango juice (LE 17) were fresh and tasty — a welcome surprise since mangoes were not in season.
Barely ten minutes after we ordered, our appetizers arrived. I started with fried lobster (LE 110), cooked to perfection and accompanied with cheese stuffed ravioli and asparagus, dressed in a divine sauce. Sadly, my companion’s foie gras, though beautifully presented, was a little too processed for her taste, leaving her feeling like a giant cube sat heavily in her stomach. Not at all like the airy foie gras I had tried at The Grill’s opening in May, cooked by French chef Daniel Chambon. But then again, his was the foie gras entier type, which is basically fois gras cooked and sliced, rather than the bloc de fois gras.
Famed for its meat dishes, The Grill offers a seemingly endless list of options — beef, veal, rib eye, US, Angus, 180 grams, 300 grams and so on — to suit every appetite. I opted for a 180-gram US Beef fillet (LE 250) with mashed potatoes and pepper sauce. I nearly swooned at my first bite, my taste buds practically bursting into song at the tenderness of the meat, a cut with no fat — just as I like it. The mashed potatoes were perfectly seasoned and textured and seemed to melt in my mouth. My partner ordered the Farmer Baby Chicken with Fresh Mushroom and Truffles alongside Creamy Potatoes (LE 145). She proclaimed the chicken tender, although a little too bony, and the potatoes amazing.
Dessert was a hit on both sides. My Passion Fruit-Filled Soufflé with Pina Colada Ice Cream (LE 45) was light, airy and perfectly sugared, while my companion’s stuffed pancake with pineapple and orange caramelized sauce (LE 40) simply divine. A complimentary serving of chocolates, and we were on our way.
With the bill totaling just over LE 1,000 for two appetizers, two entrées, two desserts and two drinks, it is definitely not for the fainthearted. At The Grill, the check reflects the stunning Nile view, elegant atmosphere, attentive service and presentation of the food in addition to the meal itself.
Some of the original flourish of The Grill is gone, and I shall forever miss the pomp of waiters removing the silver domes covering our food with a resounding “Bon Appetit.” Nevertheless, The Grill remains one of my favorite haunts. It is the perfect restaurant for a wedding anniversary or a very, very impressive first date. This is where you go not for a quick meal, but for an unforgettable experience. A private room is situated in the corner of the restaurant, perfect for an exclusive dinner party. et
The Grill Semiramis InterContinental Corniche El-Nil Tel: +2 (02) 2 795-7171 Open every day from 7pm with last orders at midnight Very Expensive