I am not sure I have ever (knowingly) eaten Egyptian food before. Recently I travelled to Kensington to try Alexandrie, a restaurant which has had a revamp and now offers a taste of Egypt in a glamorous dining room. Tucked away on Kensington Church Street, with barely a sign to indicate its whereabouts, it would be easy to walk straight past Alexandrie.
My grandparents and I sat in a lovely window table which I was pleased to find had plenty of natural light for my photographs. The small dining room was filled with neatly arranged white table-clothed tables, bright gaudy artworks and glitzy chandeliers, a strange mix of design features which made the eatery feel rather dated. There was only one other table occupied in the small restaurant which sadly meant the lack of atmosphere was rather obvious throughout our meal.
The quiet but helpful waiter handed out the lunch offer for the day, a very confusingly laid out list of vegan, vegetarian, fish and meat options, priced at £13.95 for two courses (+ £4.95 for additional dessert). We opted for a mix of the vegetable and meat dishes, so I could sample a range of the chef’s specialities.
To start we had a platter of Hummus, baba ganoush and aubergine salad which was pleasant but a little uninspiring. The soups however, were delicious. Cream of cauliflower was wonderfully smooth and creamy, with a sprinkle of fragrant spices and earthy truffle oil. Red Lentil soup was our favourite, a perfectly comforting winter dish, with a hint of lemon balm and lovely seasoning from the garlic croutons.
The main courses arrived very promptly… with so few people to serve I guess the chef was able to make the food very efficiently. These plates looked less appetising, especially the Chicken roulade, which tasted nice but looked a mess on the plate. Ratatouille with grilled halloumi was a simple dish ideal for vegetarians. The Lamb okra with saffron rice was the least successful, a dry meat dish cooked with sloppy pieces of okra which didn’t add any flavour.
To drink with our meal we chose a bottle of the 2013 Chene Bleu rose wine, which was a hit at our table. A lovely rose wine that was both delicate and balanced, it would complement any lunchtime meal.
Desserts were an education in Egyptian sweet recipes. Mehalabeya was a delicious, palate-cleansing milk pudding with crunchy candied pistachios on top. The second dessert, named Omali was extremely odd. It was described on the menu as a crisp filo pastry baked in a rich cream with a touch of vanilla, topped with baked almond flakes… but it didn’t really taste of any of those ingredients, apart from the toasted almonds, which were piled high on top. There was a lack of natural sweetness and the texture, under-baked pastry soaked in milk, was quite unappealing.
The lunch menu at Alexandrie is good value, the lack of atmosphere and hit-or-miss dishes left me wondering if this restaurant is more dependable for an evening meal.
More information and book a table at Alexandrie Restaurant here.