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Fab Food: Tamarai debuts new menu
Published in Daily News Egypt on 10 - 12 - 2010

With a new facelift and new menu, Tamarai, Cairo's most exciting nightspot, has once again opened its indoor space to the public, just a month shy of its two-year anniversary.
Though the interiors are somewhat still the same — a few changes in furniture and the addition of some wood paneling have been made — Tamarai looks like it is opening anew, eliciting all the same excitement and expectations for the coming winter season that one had two years ago.
Whereas the interiors still keep to the same theme of Pharaonic rock quarries meet modern city, the menu has changed from French-Mediterranean fusion cuisine to one that includes a global variety of dishes. A new chef has been brought in to revamp the menu and revive what was previously one of Cairo's best experiences: a truly delicious dinner before a great night of dancing.
The new man in the kitchen is Frenchman Chef Framinet, who has traveled extensively and worked in several haute restaurants and private club addresses, in addition to having been personal chef to many famous names including Queen Rania of Jordan and David Bowie. So what can one expect from such a well-traveled and experienced chef?
“I've been working on the new menu for over eight months to create a gastronomic experience unlike anything Cairo has ever experienced,” said Chef Framinet. “It's an amalgamation of all the incredible flavors I've worked with around the world. The food goes beyond regular culinary boundaries, and everything is prepared with passion, skill and a sense of fun. I'm particularly excited by the use of traditional Egyptian ingredients and cooking-styles with global culinary trends. It's tradition with a twist.”
With two girlfriends in tow, we made our way through a three-course meal there one evening — we threw our concerns over calories out the window. I was delighted to see that, though their dishes and tastes were inspired by various types of cuisine, there was a lot of experimenting and careful pairing made on the new menu. Chef Framinet even plays with traditional Egyptian dishes and ingredients, like molokhia (also known as Jew's mallow), rabbit, pigeon and various spices we often find in Egypt's regional dishes.
For starters, I had the Pigeon Pastilla served with an arugula salad in beetroot vinaigrette (LE 70) that arrived as a sort of small multi-layered puff pastry pie, with the pigeon sweetly spiced. The salad leaves had a strong flavor of mustard and had an earthy taste to it that was an excellent complement to the sweetness of the beetroot vinaigrette and the spice of the pastilla.
I tried a forkful of a friend's chicken Liver Gâteau that came down with a tomato coulis and Espelette pepper (LE 55) that tasted fresh and had the subtlest notes of spice. The tomato coulis was sweet and the play of sweetness and spice was able to make one of my most detested childhood dishes a surprising treat.
Moving on to mains, I ordered the Spiced Ostrich medallions with almond raisin gremolata, spiced wine sauce, mashed potatoes, and potted vegetables (LE 135). The thought of ostrich deterred my friend due to the meat's usual toughness, but mine came down tender, juicy, and pink on the inside. A generous splash of sauce was served over the medallions; thick in texture and yet smooth on the tongue, it delivered a wonderfully sweet taste. Though the menu claims it was spiced, I couldn't tell because nothing about this dish was too strong; like well behaved children, all the flavors got along well with one another on the palate.
A friend ordered the Oriental Shot: braised rabbit with coriander mustard sauce, lemon potatoes and Egypt's much beloved national dish of molokhia, served in a small shot glass placed on the plate (LE 120).
I was surprised to find the lemon pairing in this dish but I think Chef has been taking careful notes of how Egyptians have such particular habits when eating at home. Molokhia seasoned with some lemon is a common habit, but the novelty of placing mustard with potatoes and hints of lemon on the most traditional of Egyptian dishes kicked this dish up several notches. The rabbit was tougher than to our liking, but everything else on the dish was superb.
Dessert was ordered after a break: Choc'n Pear, a chocolate tart with solid cacao crumbles, wine pear granité and vanilla custard; a Banana Fusion, banana spring rolls served with slated caramel mousse and toffee; and the big winner of the night the Duetto, a hot orange confit and Cointreau soufflé, and frozen chestnut cognac soufflé.
The Choc'n Pear, in the words of one friend, was like a “cold Christmas.” The flavors of spice and wine were there but served cold it was refreshing and the chocolate rich and intense. The Banana Fusion was fun as small bite sizes of cigar shaped pastries stuffed with bananas, but the taste of banana was too minimal for my liking. The chef's absolute coup was the Duetto where the hot orange infused soufflé was so light and airy and the frozen chestnut cognac soufflé of an ice cream delivered an absolutely divine flavor.
Tamarai's cocktail and drinks menu comes with a long list of great selections, and drinks are served strong.
Prices stated are not inclusive of the additional 10 percent tax and 12 percent service charge.
The new al la carte dinner menu is served from 8 pm to 12 pm, Saturday through Wednesday.

Tamarai
Nile City Towers, Floor 3, Corniche El Nil,
Tel: 02-2461 9910
Mob: 012-456 6666
Email. [email protected]
www.tamarai-egypt.com


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