When you think of Egyptian cuisine, fine dining doesn’t necessarily spring immediately to mind, but a visit to the aptly named Alexandrie restaurant in Kensington might change your perception of what this little-known cuisine can offer. The decor is very modern Egyptian with crisp tablecloths, cream-coloured seating and chandeliers that sparkle like blossoming flowers. This is about as far removed as you can get from the stereotypical, Middle-Eastern restaurant set-up.
They offer a very decent-valued 7-course tasting menu, which will give you an insight on what luxury, high-end Egyptian dining is all about. You get an immediate sense that everything is made in-house from the freshly-baked flatbread to the accompanying dips with hoummous, baba ganoush and aubergine. The venue might not look like a street market, but the ingredients were so fresh it felt like it was from one.
The red lentil velouté had a thick texture that felt elegant and substantial and had some interesting za’atar croûtons to add some welcomed textural variety to the dish.
Oven-baked okra was beautifully seasoned with garlic and coriander sauce and pillowy, soft pitta bread. It was definitely a challenge to avoid finishing off all 3 slices of pitta bread as they combined supremely well with the okra dish.
I wouldn’t have associated tiger king prawns in light crispy batter as an Egyptian dish and it definitely didn’t come with an Egyptian sauce, as the Bois Boudran sauce is often credited to the Roux Brothers. It was nevertheless a well-executed dish and a brave choice of sauce to use considering it is normally used to accompany meat dishes.
The heavy hitting meat dish was the next course: a slow roasted shank of lamb. You suspect from the melt-in-your-mouth nature of the meat, it must have been cooked for a considerable number of hours. It also had a curious mix of mild Egyptian spices that just added a level of unfamiliarity to what would have been a classic dish. It was accompanied by a satisfyingly smooth, creamy mashed potatoes on the side.
They provided a palate-cleanser in the form of an ice cream and sorbet combo before the dessert course was served. The Om Ali is a very typical Egyptian dessert; it contained a delicate, crisp filo pastry which was baked with indulgent cream and vanilla and finished off with baked almond flakes.
The food here really brings home the flavours of old world Alexandria combined with strong influences from countries like France, Italy and Greece. If you want to experience, Middle-Eastern cuisine with a difference, then make sure you check out Alexandrie.