KCW Today’s Senior Dining Out critic David Hughes reviews restaurant Alexandrie, 38C Kensington Church St, Kensington. Enjoy a 2 course set menu for £10 per person quote KCW Today.
Egypt, Alexandria. In your mind`s eye you can smell the heat coming from the dusty streets, the secret passages that lead to hidden courtyards, the bustle of the port, and perhaps a bit of diplomatic intrigue too. Hold that thought; in fact, park it completely.
38C Kensington Church St has none of these things, so in terms of Indiana Jones like atmosphere you are going to come up short. There`s no models of the Sphinx, or tourist papyrus, but what you do get however is starched cloths, a classy modern interior and an impeccable welcome that blends the best of traditional Egyptian cuisine with some of its more cosmopolitan past.
Alexandria has passed through a number of hands, and being a strategic port has hosted many different nationalities from ancient times. From this diverse background it can lay claim to many culinary influences, which are all drawn upon in this menu. Starting with traditional flat breads with dips, I moved on to truffled cauliflower veloute, not a staple of the average Nile dweller, but stellar nonetheless. My companion, all blonde tresses and a troubled heart went for the beetroot cured smoked salmon. This comes with charred cucumber, spiced yogurt and semi-sun dried tomatoes, and the bit I pinched was delicious, but in the spirit of cultural authenticity I also ordered the ethical foie parfait, two flavours.
One is Egyptian spiced, the other French style. The menu claims the ancient Egyptians were the first to eat foie gras, but to be honest it’s a bit of a stretch claiming this as a foie gras alternative given unfattened duck livers are used, but let`s not get hung up on semantics, we despatched it with ease.
Blondie opted for the Harissa-spiced poulet au pistou, a spiced chicken roulade with potato gratin and mushroom sauce. A generous portion, with a nicely browned off gratin, and a good depth of flavour. The mushroom sauce showed more than the harissa, so those looking for some punchy spice need to let the chef know. Fine dining can sometimes refine the flavours more than the menu reveals.
My marinated ox cheeks, Puy lentils, carrot & orange carpaccio, topped with gremolata showed all the influence of the northern Mediterranean shores, and was a delight. Giving in to some gentle persuasion from the management, we also shared some Keba Eskandarani (pan fried chicken livers with onions and green peppers) Allow yourself to be persuaded too. At £10, it’s a steal.
For desserts I had to have some Om Ali. It`s very much in the local style, and not overpoweringly sweet. Naturally there`s a story to it, involving a dead ruler, two wives and a spot of murder. To celebrate the demise of Om Ali (wife number 1) Shagaret El Dorr (wife number 2) commissioned a dish of baked sweetened milk with pistachios, raisins and chopped almonds, to be distributed throughout the land with a gold coin. That’s a vote winner in anyone’s book!
Bookings on 020 7937 2244, Enjoy a 2 course set menu for £10 per person quote KCW Today.
More information and special Valentine’s Day menu at www.alexandrie.co.uk