In my years of indulging in a hunger that transcends the physical and pursuing adventure at every turn, I have perused numerous accounts extolling the virtues of dining by the Nile. This experience is second only to my extensive exploration of writings and presentations celebrating the enchantment of the Nile. Nevertheless, a humble Saturday lunch at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza’s Riviera left me utterly spellbound. My dear readers, I had no recourse but to immerse myself in the matter, investigating it one forkful at a time.
Every food enthusiast worth their seasoning understands that the ambiance of a dining establishment is as crucial as the culinary offerings it serves. Reflecting on my initial encounter, I am transported back to the tranquil azure ambiance of Riviera. As I settled into my seat at a table with an unobstructed vista of the Nile, its radiant waters filtering gently through French blinds, I was enveloped by a tranquil serenity akin to anaesthesia. Riviera, you see, encapsulates 'cool' in every dimension. The restaurant greets patrons with an air of coolness, relieving the fine dining experience of any undue pressure.
From its blasé embrace I could conclude, perhaps prematurely, one thing: Riviera is the long searched for perfect first-date dining destination.
Note to reader: Although it was a little early to make such a brave claim about a restaurant, it was later confirmed that this testament stood the test of lunch.
As I patiently awaited the fashionably late arrival of my best friend, I luxuriated in the encompassing ambiance of Riviera. I absorbed the soothing nude colour scheme, the evocative artwork reminiscent of the river, mirrored walls, and the radiant Saturday sun. It was akin to lounging in the northern reaches of Italy, flipping through my book, utterly captivated by my surroundings, with everything else fading into insignificance.
Before long, my friend arrived, and my experiential eating adventure transitioned into the cherished lunch-ing period, my personal favourite. While we perused the monochromatic serif menus offering choices for both omnivores and vegetarians, we were treated to a playful rosé and fluffy bread loaves perfect for dipping in fragrant olive oil.
As the starters arrived, we, known far and wide as unapologetic appetiser enthusiasts, couldn't resist reaching for more. Accompanied by the pleasant sound of clinking glasses, our culinary journey led us from the creamy burrata to the refreshing beef carpaccio, then to the crispy nut-breaded shrimp, and back to the indulgent burrata. It struck me with wonder how, despite their simplicity and somewhat filling nature (the fluff takes up room), the interplay of flavours among our appetiser selection only seemed to amplify our appetite.
Just as our hunger was teetering on the brink of becoming outright hangry, our main courses made a grand entrance on what seemed like levitating plates. We watched in awe as our waiter deftly grated fresh Parmesan over the creamy mushroom risotto and the explosive agnolotti, our eyes and appetites oscillating eagerly between these dishes and the aromatic sea bass. The latter, a surprisingly delicate creation adorned with various greens and tangy jelly that complemented it brilliantly, stood as the table's crowning glory, occupying not only much of our thoughts but, soon after, our taste buds. Meanwhile, the tantalising agnolotti and the distinctively savoury risotto worked their magic to keep our ravenous appetites satiated.
In the spirit of consistency, Riviera pleasantly surprised our taste buds with a delightful twist. As I savoured the fried eggplant-adorned agnolotti with a hint of clove, it suddenly struck me: the true standout here is the sun-dried tomato. Subtle yet undeniably present with its delightful summery flavour, sun-dried tomatoes punctuated each of our dishes, effortlessly evoking the essence of Italian dining along the Riviera.
For dessert, Riviera took us on a delightful journey atop a butter-and-sugar-hardened brioche, a treat that somehow invoked the juicy allure of French toast and the satisfying crack of crème brûlée. Accompanied by espresso ice cream, this dessert proved to be nothing short of transcendent. In a fruitier twist, a mango sorbet rested on a velvety bed of chocolate pudding, engaging in a sweet dialogue with orange gel, cream, and mint, resulting in an explosion of harmonising flavours.
We departed from Riviera in a state of delightful fullness, our smiles stretching from ear to ear, and a rejuvenated spirit as we faced the upcoming workweek, with a resolute intention to return for more.