Valentina Primo delves into the cozy, candle-lit atmosphere of Ramses Hilton's Citadel Grill, where Mediterranean cuisine and serenading guitars blend to create the perfect evening.
I stroll into the cozy restaurant and quickly understand the inception of its name; adorned with paintings reminiscent of the Cairene landmark and infused by the warm aura of candlelight, Citadel Grill seems like a cozy retreat for the senses. A place to be pampered, I think.
The head chef leads us to the table, where a glass of Cape Bay wine awaits us along with a fine selection of bread with creamy butter, cheese, and olive paste. In front of us, there is an open-show kitchen where eager chefs delight us with choices. I’m torn between seasoned Osobuco, fish fillet, Spanish paella, or grilled salmon but after an internal battle, I end up selecting the salmon steak.
As he offers the choices, I am brought back to Italy by the scent of olive oil, aceto balsamico and Parmiggiano cheese being poured over a small plate standing in front of me. “Taste it with some of the bread,” the head chef suggests. He sure knows what he is saying; never has such a simple recipe tasted so galvanizingly good. The secret, as with all Mediterranean food, is the freshness of its ingredients.
Roaming through the main tables, a guitar player is serenading us to the sound of romantic ballads and Mediterranean songs, while our appetizers await to be devoured. I look around the table. I don’t think I will ever leaving this place; grilled calamari, smoked salmon, shrimps with tartar sauce, chicken with cherries, seasoned veal and a heavenly array of vegetables, olives and all kinds of awesomeness lie on colourful plates.
There is a raw selection of fish on before the open-show kitchen as the chef begins to cook our main dish. Sat on comfortable couches, between the dim light of candles and the scent of wine, I can’t help but be transported to a Mediterranean trattoria.
As the main dish arrives, I am stunned by the size of its portion. The salmon is tender, tasty, drenched in crème blanche with a delicate pinch of fresh rosemary. The mashed potato side dish unexpectedly arrived topped with gratin cheese. I am so numbed by this creamy, salty, cheese sensation – in every sense of the word - that I devour the plate in a nanosecond.
It’s time for dessert and the waiter comes with a tray filled with sweet pieces of paradise; chocolate cakes, brownies, crème brule, and fruit salads. We choose a sensual chocolate mousse with ice cream and he insists on us trying a delight only Citadel Grill prides itself in having: a pyramid of stuffed dates and chocolate-drenched strawberries. It’s refreshingly sweet. I remain seduced for life by this unpretentious, cozy restaurant, who enticed me with the archetypical Mediterranean simplicity and the refined romanticism of a delicate ambience.
You can find out more about Ramses Hilton on their Facebook page here or follow them on Instagram @ramseshilton.