It's difficult to come by authentic French cuisine, executed with perfection in Cairo, but the Gabriel Hotel's Salt is certainly an exception, and Chef Selim's succulent signature dishes never fail to keep Cairenes coming back for more…
Finding brand name hotels that offer a typical global standard of luxury isn’t difficult to do in Egypt. However, finding a boutique hotel, whose careful attention to detail surpasses the expected standard in luxury is rare. Using a creative eye, the Gabriel Hotel is redefining what customers can expect in terms of luxury, and nowhere is that more clear then in their decadent Salt restaurant.
Winner of both 2013 and 2014 World Luxury Hotel Awards, the Gabriel Hotel has quickly garnered a reputation as one of the finest places to stay in Cairo. With overwhelmingly positive feedback, many of the customers find themselves not only returning for a luxurious night stay, but can often be seen returning as diners looking to please their senses with visually stimulating deliciously French restaurant Salt.
“There is no difference between art and food. I try to make sure that whatever I put on the plate looks like a visual masterpiece that tastes equally decadent,” explains Selim Ibrahim Selim, executive chef of the Gabriel Hotel. By sourcing only the freshest local organic produce, Salt manages to take the farm to plate model and redefine it with sophisticated preparation.
As an Egyptian chef who trained under a French master for six years, Selim understands the challenges of offering classic French dishes to an Egyptian palette. Overcoming this obstacle Selim tries “to deconstruct classic French dishes but with a modern twist. All the classic components can be found on the plate, but sometimes I use spices that appeal to Egyptians while broadening their palette.”
Obviously, French cuisine is not new or hard to find Egypt, but was separates Salt from other posers is that they use all the ingredients required to make French dishes. “Unlike other restaurants we use alcohol in our cooking the way the French intended,” Selim points out. In a Muslim-dominated society the idea of cooking with alcohol is haram. However there are studies that suggest that all the alcoholic content evaporates before being served. James Peterson, a cookbook writer who studied chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, stated in his encyclopedic cookbook Sauces:
You need to cook a sauce for at least 20 to 30 seconds after adding wine to it to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Since alcohol evaporates at 172°F (78°C), any sauce or stew that is simmering or boiling is certainly hot enough to evaporate the alcohol.
This debate will continue to go back in forth, and we’re sure the internet will provide evidence to say the otherwise. However, to gain a true appreciation of the classics one must try them with all the ingredients that made the dish memorable in the first place.
With a skillful hand and a careful eye Selim takes pride in crafting his authentic, served a la minute menu, which offers a myriad of delicious options ranging from Tourinedos de Boeuf (beef filet with duck liver and Madeira sauce) to Gambas flambéed a la Marseillaise (flambé black tiger shrimp). Each entrée strikes a delicate balance and comes with sides that equally excite taste buds, like candied vegetables and dauphinoise potatoes.
In little to no time Salt has garnered the reputation of being a true urban gourmet restaurant and bar. With a divine dining hall, complete with soothing blues, magnificent chandeliers, gorgeous bar and plush design, diners can expect a lavish culinary experience from the minute they enter. Brand name hotels often promise an expensive stimulating experience for all senses, but end up leaving customers feeling conned, hungry, and senseless. What makes Salt stand out is that they deliver on their promise, making it easy to understand why the Gabriel Hotel is synonymous with luxury, and why diners keep coming back for more Salt.
Find out more about The Gabriel Hotel here.