ESCA – Gastronomic Wonder

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One of the reasons I started my blog was to find the best restaurants in Egypt and expose them. Before you jump on a high horse of linguistic correctness, I would like to explain that I my judgement on a restaurant’s quality is not just about the quality of the food it serves. The quality of the food is definitely the most important part of the criteria, but pushing the boundaries of culinary creativity, has a completely different weight on my score card. The thought behind using each and every ingredient in a dish.. The balance of taste.. The attention to texture and detail.. These are all aspects that I very rarely find in restaurants around here.

Young entrepreneur; Ahmed Heggy, along with gastro-artist; Chef Wesam Masoud, have teamed up to bring us something worth the bite. ESCA is a cozy restaurant and bar that takes fine dining to the next level. If you are one of those people that skips the first page on the menu – yeah, you know.. the one that has the story and concept of the restaurant written on it – then please read this:

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Now let’s dig right in… If you thought that you will get another basket of defrosted bread rolls and some single serving Lurpak butter packs on ice, think again. The bread is artisan and the butter has been aerated and garnished with micro petals. How’s that for a start?!

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I tried a few different appetizers at ESCA and not one of them has disappointed me. The Duck Rangoon is a very interesting cross-cultural play on the classic French dish ‘Canard ร  l’orange’ and the Chinese Rangoon. The Rangoon puffs are filled with crispy, shredded duck meat, which hydrate beautifully in the orange sauce to create a mouthful of East meets West!

Only a mad kitchen artist would think of pairing hazelnut with chicken liver. Two sources of rich, creamy textures fused into one sweet & savory extravaganza.

Now let me tell you about the dish that stole my heart like nothing I have tasted before. I have no idea what they did to that octopus, but everything about it is just perfect! The cook is just right, the seasoning is subtle and the tangy olive oil dressing is just mind-blowing. I can honestly say that ESCA’s grilled octopus is one of the best things I have ever eaten.

When one of the mains says “12-hour Braised Beef Ravioli”, then you just know that the time and effort will result in something that is quite fascinating. The plating and the presentation of this dish is enough to fill up a separate blog post, but the taste is an experience of its own.

I swear that I was full, until Chef Wesam decided to present us with his signature dessert; the Sobya Semifreddo. Yet again, deep thought and culinary innovation had been welded to design a dessert that will make you stand in awe. The Sobya Semifreddo comes in the form of an egg that is surrounded by a crispy nest. Once you crack into it, you will be left with nothing but a rich and decadent mousse that carries the fragrance of coconut and cream. Another dessert that instantly became a favorite of mine was the Lemon Custard Panna Cotta. The pudding is silky smooth and charged with citrus notes from the lemon.

I would like to dedicate a big applause to ESCA for pushing Egyptian restaurants further into the international gastronomy scene. Now I know what I will say when someone asks me about the best place to dine in Cairo.

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