On our search for a refreshingly different fine dining experience, we found our pot of gold! We check out the unmistakable tastes of the East at the Mena House Hotel.
One of the things we truly miss in Cairo is a sensual Al fresco candle lit dinner with live music, and a great view. Imagine our thrill when we found exactly what we wanted. We ventured out of the city, away from the congestion and hustle and bustle of overcrowded triple parking streets, and headed to the fabulous Mena House overlooking the pyramids.
There was a cool breeze, uncharacteristic of Cairo this time of year, and the place was simply enchanting, with an artistic lighting scheme that glows gently in the night, showing off the beautiful architecture of the 1869 establishment which once hosted Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, for an entire winter, as well as Winston Churchill.
As soon as we arrived, we were taken to our table which had a view of the palatial hotel shining under the moon, as well as the pyramids which were unfortunately unlit that particular night. The music was soothing, and people’s speaking volume was civilised since no one had to shout over a blaring banging background.
Our first cold bottle of white wine made its way to us, gently embracing us and escorting us into the evening as we browsed the Middle Eastern and Indian grill menus. We shared a starter of Mixed Lebanese Mezzeh ranging from delectable Kobeba that had an unusual yet pleasant hint of orange rind, crisp Samosas, fresh delicious tabbouleh, vine leaves, and lots of dips served with freshly baked bread.
We sipped wine and dug in, watching waiters coming and going with sizzling hot plates that looked and smelt incredibly appetising. Then we were served. We had our own grill on the table with lamb kebab and kofta made of fine grade meat, and hardly any fat at all, two towers of succulent Tandoori chicken and shrimps, and finally, the star of the evening, a hot plate of grilled pigeon in raspberry sauce with baked potato. It was divine!
We have so many reasons to go back to the Mena House 139 Grill; The location is wonderfully de-stressing, far from the mainstream mediocre dining scene, the view is tantalising, the breeze and fresh air are rejuvenating, and the service is so smooth and dedicated, seducing you into a feel good mood. And oh God, that hot plate of grilled pigeon in raspberry sauce is most certainly one of the reasons we’ll be going back, trying to be civil and keeping from salivating in public.
It is so refreshing to be able to dine Al fresco and actually hold a conversation without straining our ears to block out the senselessness of the vulgar music and loud screechy voices that are taking over many restaurants.
Although you are welcome there in casual dress, we recommend you dress up to fulfil the potential of the experience. The place is perfect for a first date, second date, third date... all the way to anniversary dates. It also happens to be great for business deals you want to close, friends who want to catch up or who want a change of scene, foreigners you want to charm, and people you want to seduce.
We were certainly charmed and seduced, and we’ll be going back there to our fine dining haven on the outskirts of chaos.