Akin to stepping onto an opulent film set from a golden Hollywood era, walking into the grand St. Regis Cairo transported me back in time. The majestic lobby showcased towering ceilings, Versailles-worthy glistening chandeliers, and marble floors so finely polished that my own wide-eyed reflection gazed back at me. As I ascended the elevator to the 5th floor, a decorative indoor fountain captured the fading Egyptian sunlight, bathing the palatial room in luminescent warmth - the ideal prelude to the feast for the senses awaiting me at La Zisa.
Entering the restaurant, arched ceilings swathed in terracotta hues and ornate wooden chandeliers dripping with amber light transported me to a rustic yet refined Italian taverna. The tiles beneath my feet completed the sensation of being enveloped in a warm Italian embrace. The staff greeted me with a warm welcome and showed me to a cosy corner table with 270-degree views of the Nile, adding to the charm of the experience.
Though it had an Italian setting, La Zisa's buffet knew no culinary constraints, seamlessly blending Oriental, Egyptian, and Asian options with Italian classics. To prime my palate, a blueberry and apricot mojito arrived - cool, crisp, and bursting with the flavours of high summer.
I was greeted by an impressive assortment of culinary creations at the open buffet stations, which included an Asian corner offering sushi and noodle dishes, a shawarma station serving wraps and salads, and a traditional Egyptian section showcasing authentic cultural cuisine.
I began my feast by selecting perfectly cooked shrimp pasta in a rich, tangy red sauce - the plump shrimp were so flavourful and tender, while the pasta had the ideal balance of textures and flavours - not too dense nor too thin.
I then made my way around the buffet, sampling a delicious variety of dishes: meatballs in marinara sauce, spicy Oriental sausage, layered lasagna bursting with cheese, and flaky rokak. The potato and mushroom salads provided cool, refreshing side options. The Oriental sausage was especially succulent and thickly cut, while the lasagna was buttery soft with a crispy, cheese-browned edge that perfectly balanced the sinfully rich filling.
Next, I ventured to the Asian section where I enjoyed sweet and sour chicken - the balance of flavours in the sauce was perfect, neither too sweet nor too sour. And to my delight, the hasu maki sushi rolls were as fresh and delectable as I had hoped.
As I savoured each delectable bite and forkful, a talented violinist serenaded me with lively strings, adding an extra layer of sophistication and elegance to the already remarkable experience. The music captured the very essence of the restaurant's romantic Italian-inspired setting, with notes that swelled and soared, enhancing the overall ambiance.
For dessert, I indulged in a wedge of dense, rich honey cake, but it was the velvety creme brulee that truly stole the show. Its ethereally smooth texture and irresistible flavour provided the perfect finale to my culinary journey around the globe and served as a remarkable conclusion to the extraordinary dining experience at La Zisa.
My dining experience at La Zisa was a sensory delight from beginning to end. The refined luxury and effortless style of the ornate decor, combined with the breathtaking Nile views and enchanting live violin melodies, worked seamlessly together. They perfectly complemented the culinary magnificence of the expansive buffet spread, which showcased delectable international cuisine. From the impeccably balanced flavours of each dish I sampled to the attentive and warm service, every aspect of the dining experience surpassed my highest expectations, leaving me eager to return and savour many more visits in the future.