To say that U Bistro & Bar breathes fresh air into Cairo’s gastronomy scene is something of an understatement. Cross an unobtrusive entrance on Zamalek’s 26th July Street, ascend the stairs and enter a venue that has every bit the feel of a genuine French bistro – understated elegance with a little edge.
U Bistro & Bar is both sophisticated and unpretentious. A daytime visit will offer you the chance to appreciate light filtering through large, Nile-facing windows, soft jazz music and pristine décor. Here the focus is upon excellence, delivered with style and grace.
We were treated to a delectable array of dishes and cocktails.
Salmon gravlax, that is to say salmon that has been carefully marinated in salt, sugar and dill, was served with olive tapenade, arugula mousse, crispy carrot, cauliflower and broccoli and drizzled with lemon dressing. The piquancy of the dill and the olive tapenade was offset by the smoothness of the salmon, creamy mousse with a hint of pesto, and the crunch of the vegetables.
Rich, buttery foie gras was set upon a specially-prepared pain d’épices (or gingerbread toast), made of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and five spices, and served with a spicy apple chutney.
With both starters, the care that had been put into creating dishes with complementary textures, flavours, colours, scents, was evident.
Likewise with the first main course of grilled salmon, accompanied by celery mash with black olives, pine nuts and parmesan to create a dish bursting with flavour.
Finding well-cooked steak in Cairo is honestly a challenge. And I have to say I had been prepared for disappointment before sampling U Bistro & Bar’s Rossini beef filet. I could not have been in for a more pleasant surprise: it is, to my (admittedly British) taste, flawless. Tender, juicy meat served in red wine sauce, with toast, truffle and foie gras; it is quite possibly the best steak I have had in this city.
Desserts were decadent: an impeccable construction of chocolate, cream and ice cream that would put hedonists to shame and a melt-in-the-mouth millefeuille.
Cocktail drinkers will not be disappointed by the lovingly-prepared selection on offer, bursting with fruit and colour. We sampled a classic Moscow Mule, strongly flavoured with ginger, a Kiwi Collins which combined kiwi, vanilla, lime juice, vodka and sour mix, and an exuberant Passionfruit Martini.
A really excellent dining experience, service that is warm, helpful and unobtrusive, and a relaxed, lively ambiance: U Bistro & Bar offers something very special. We wholeheartedly recommend a visit.
Average price per starter: 215 LE
Average price per main course: 365 LE
Average price per dessert: 73 LE
Average price per cocktail: 165 LE
(All prices exclusive of 12% service charge and 13% tax)