“ Cuisine: Seafood / Address: Corniche Bahari, Alexandria / Tel: 03 480 5119 / World Region: Africa „
Fish Market is probably Alexandria's most well-known and upmarket fish restaurant that was recommended to us by expatriates in Cairo when my partner and I spent a weekend in Alexandria on a city break.
The restaurant is actually a part of a complex that houses various eateries such as the Grand Café, the Samadi bakery and the Tikka House situated on the seafront. Its entrance is from the 'Corniche', the coastal road that runs along Alexandria Bay and more particularly at the beginning of a pier that leads to the Alexandria Lighthouse and Kaupay Fortress.
It is upstairs where Fish Market is actually found above Tikka House run by the same owners. The restaurant is spacious, imagine a huge conservatory that's perched above the wave breakers scattered below it. Its all-round bay windows offer a fabulous view over the bay.
The tables are large, the smallest I've seen were for 4 people. Square or round table for 6 - 8 are not unusual and are meant to serve the large local families or group of friends. We chose a round table for 6 just by the window so we can admire the view. There are high-chairs for the little ones and the spacious interior means you can keep your baby in a pram or buggy next to your table at all times.
The décor is very simple and consists of whitewash walls and the big windows that practically leave no place for walls. The wooden floors and the wicker furniture so prevalent in Egypt also add to the pleasantly relaxing seaside atmosphere. The lighting is pleasant, slightly dimmed and the candlelit tables are inviting to a romantic dinner.
There is a handout menu however we didn't bother seeing it for ourselves and for good reason. All the fishes and various freshly caught seafood are displayed on a huge counter bedded with ice. The staff behind will place the goodies you select in a small plastic basket and will ask or advise you how you'd like them to be prepared. The usual ways are either grilled or baked using olive oil and lemon juice although they do occasionally fry fish or bake it in salt.
The fresh selection included locally sourced sea bream, red mullet, sea perch, sole and monkfish and some others as well as salmon which would have come from the Atlantic. As far as seafood were concerned, crabs, seashells and prawns completed the menu. We ordered crab soup and a platter of grilled sea bream, mullet and sea perch for two.
Right from the moment you reach the top of the stairs to walk into the restaurant, you're lavished with attentive and polite service and hospitality the Middle East is so famous for. As soon as we took our seats, we were served water and ask if we wanted wine which we did. An impressive selection of 10 mezzes (hot and cold Middle Eastern starter dishes) arrived with the staple basket of flatbread even without us asking for them, they come as accompaniments to any meal you'll order.
Throughout dinner our drinks were refilled and finished plates, empty mezze dishes and dirty cutlery cleared away without you even noticing due to the discreet presence of the staff. The atmosphere will make you take your time here, this is a place where it is just as important to socialise and chat with the group or partner you're with as to savour the food in front of you.
The mezze consisted of garlicky yoghurt paste, houmous, grilled aubergine, pickles, beetroot to mention a few. The crab soup was delicious and creamy without being heavy or oily. I was actually quite full with the mezze and soup when the grill platter and bowl of brown rice arrived together with a garnish of grilled vegetables.
The fish was fresh and extremely tender yet crispy on the outside. The amount of fish - one large baked whole and four small pieces - looked huge however as we at slowly we did manage to finish most of it. It was a hearty but healthy and balanced meal that was prepared in a way you want it so even if you're on a diet you can still enjoy.
Fish Market is one of the few and possibly the only fish restaurant where alcoholic beverages are served, meaning essentially beer and wine. We had French sauvignon blanc which was dry, crisp but also flavoursome and accompanied the fish, seafood and mezze selection nicely.
They accept credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and AmEx. We paid by Visa and the bill came to LE320 for two including mezzes, soup, bread, whole fish, rice and vegetable garnish and a bottle of white wine. Not bad when it works out at just £32!
Alexandria is famous for its fish and for a good reason. The food is lovely, the service is faultless and you can have a glass of wine of two, unusual in other restaurants in Egypt. You'll pay more than at other, less upmarket local fish restaurants, it's still cheap by European standards and the splendid views from the Corniche more than make up for the slightly more expensive prices.
Kasr Al Tin Road, Corniche, Alexandria, Egypt. You can drop in without a reservation as due to the sheer size of the restaurant there are always tables available. Make sure you book if you arrive more than four of you however just in case it's busy. The phone number is 03 4805114, or 03 4805119 if calling from Egypt.
Thanks for reading.
©powered by lillybee also posted on ciao.co.uk