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139 Grill: Dinner With a View

The world famous Mena House has introduced a new grill menu, but can the food contend with the backdrop that surrounds it?

Having dinner at Mena House is something of an overwhelming experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of the place, the incredible view of the Pyramids, and the history that seems to exude from every nook and cranny of one of Egypt’s most iconic hotels. However, if you can force your eyes away from the scenery for long enough to peruse the new 139 Grill menu, you’ll discover a whole new dimension to the indulgence on offer there.

We were initially served a selection of hot and cold mezzes so extensive that we were a little bit overwhelmed at first. After a quick look over of what was on the table, we ventured in by first trying one of the sambousas. The first bite told us that they had managed to avoid one of the pitfalls that often plagues sambousa in that it wasn’t excessively oily like most tend to be. The vine leaves were wonderfully plump and the rice was cooked and spiced to perfection, accompanied well by the cold yoghurt. The kobeba was a pleasant golden brown, and the mixture of the crunch of the outside and the softness of the meat on the inside made a great combination.

Not too long after having our fill of the mezzes, our main courses arrived. It was recommended to us that we should give the tandoori section of the grill menu a try, so we went for the mixed selection. The plate came covered in tandoori chicken, tandoori prawns, tandoori kofta and a healthy amount of naan bread alongside a small bowl of herb chutney. The naan was wonderfully soft and warm, and complemented every bite very well. The prawns were perfectly cooked and spiced, and the chicken was moist and delicious. The absolute high point of the dish, however, had to be the kofta. It was cooked to perfection, and the tandoori spice rub had gotten into every single part of the soft and succulent meat. The serving of herb chutney initially seemed small, but we very quickly discovered that it was full of flavour, and the portion we were provided with was more than enough.

After the meal, we were all sufficiently stuffed, but you’re never too full for the dessert cart. As it rolled past us, calling us with it’s sweet aromas, we were powerless to resist it. After much, much deliberation, we decided on the apple strudel and the caramel eclair. The plump eclair’s soft, fluffy exterior gave no resistance as we cut through it, and caramel sauce flowed out. Each bite of the pastry felt like chomping into a cloud, and the sweet caramel sauce was heavenly. The pastry of the apple strudel was soft and crumbly, and the filling was the perfect mixture of sweetness, the tart apple, and the kick of the cinnamon. All in all, the dessert was a wonderful end to the meal.

Overall, 139 is something of a unique entity in Cairo’s restaurant scene. Most of the time, the scenery is just an accompaniment to the food, or, more heinously, the food is just an accompaniment to the scenery. 139's new grill is neither of these. The delicious food and the jaw-dropping scenery go hand-in-hand to create an experience that is nigh-impossible to replicate anywhere in Cairo.

Find out more about the Mena House on their official Facebook page here.