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Breeze El Gouna
After a few days of terrible weather towards the end of March, a perfect day on the Marina could not have been better. A short bout of rain, followed by a sandstorm left some of us in a lower mood than usual. If the weather does not get you down, a layer of dust over everything can be somewhat unappealing. However, after this window of bad weather move on, we got back to warm days, a light steady breeze and happy people. In other words, El Gouna got back to normal.
Arriving at the appropriately named, Breeze restaurant, we sat down at a very clean and neatly presented table made ready for a Saturday afternoon lunch. Not in any rush, it was a coffee and a mango juice for us while we settled into the afternoon calm and taking our time in deciding what to eat.
Breeze is the only one of it’s kind, with no franchised branches anywhere else. This, coupled with its relaxed but careful decor definitely creates a more intimate atmosphere within the restaurant. You don’t feel like you have to rush out or make space for others. Breeze takes great pride in the quality of the food as well as their health and safety precautions. I am of the mind that says if it’s clean outside, it’s clean inside. For this reason, there was no doubt in my mind about the cleanliness standards mentioned by the owners.
Perfectly situated halfway down the north dock of the Abu Tig Marina, Breeze offers an idyllic spot for those wanting drinks with their friends, as well as those wanting to sit for a few hours, eating, as we did. But if you’re a local, you’re bound to see some friends walking past – some of whom are on their way to Breeze anyway. Breeze faces south, making the most of the northern hemisphere sun as it traverses the sky. We all know how harsh the Saharan sun can be, but Breeze has a host of umbrella’s to adjust the shade accordingly. As potentially fewer of us know, there is an almost constant northerly breeze that blows down the coast. Facing away from this, Breeze is nicely sheltered from the stronger winds, turning them into just a breeze. And this is why the name is so fitting.
Choosing a starter was not too difficult and it seemed to be seafood that answered the call. We ordered the Muscles in White Wine Sauce, and the Fried Calamari, to begin. Being relatively quiet at this time, the starter dishes did not take long to arrive which was a relief due to midday appetites. The muscles were generously dished out with arguably one of the tastiest white wine sauces I have ever sampled. Calamari, being notoriously tricky to cook, was cooked to perfection. Soft and tender, coated in a light, fried batter and sprinkled with fresh lemon, it was pure bliss to slowly savour it while enjoying the view of the boats on the Marina.
For main course, the choices were a little more difficult. With Beef Fillet, Jumbo Shrimps and Salmon Steak finding themselves in the top three, we decided on the Beef Fillet and the Salmon Steak. The Beef Fillet came with further difficult decisions: mushroom sauce, pepper sauce or bbq sauce. My 3 favourites. Opting for mushroom sauce, I was not disappointed, but could not help wondering what the others tasted like. The Beef Fillet, done medium rare, was a truly melt in your mouth moment on the first bite. Tender and delicious, I simply had to put my knife and fork down to savour the moment. With a side of creamy spinach, another firm favourite, it was a welcome change from the more regular choice of wedges or fries.
Not personally sampling the Salmon Steak myself, I watched the same reaction occur on that first mouthful: total happiness. The kind that only perfect food can bring. Sided with steamed rice, vegetables and lemon butter, that happiness was complete.
Being a warm day, we ordered 2 ice cold Sakaras. Sakara is Egyptian beer and most of us prefer it over the other, more global brands. This, of course, is a matter of taste.
Our meals diminished slowly with every mouthful being truly wonderful. And so, it came time for dessert. The dessert menu was not as elaborate as the main course menu. But his made sense to me as Breeze is more fitting for quality, savoury food as well as cocktails. Cocktails are naturally perfect for letting a warm day drift by in front of you.
But nonetheless, a fantastic Breeze Cheescake and a perfectly presented Creme Caramel were presented to us. Often, creme caramel can be a little too sweet, but this one was perfect in its sugary proportions. Both desserts were of a smooth and soft consistency. Enjoying these to the utmost, we both commented on how our appetites were fully satisfied and the last few mouthfuls were now a challenge to complete. But the challenge was accepted and we finished the day with an icy Mojito and a Cappuccino.
During the day I had struck up a short conversation at the neighbouring table. Conversing with a man about how therapeutic it is to be sitting at Breeze, he said, “A dingle from England gives Breeze a 9 / 10.” I dared not ask him what it was that cost Breeze that one star, but I suspect he was of the more conservative mind that says “there is always room for improvement – even if I don’t know what it is yet.” But more to the point, he was enthusiastic in his high ranking. And by the end of the day, we were of the same mind. The service was friendly, vigilant but unobtrusive, and the food excellent.
The most telling of all was that when I glanced at my watch, after dessert, I realised that 4 hours had gone by feeling more like 2. Such was the relaxed atmosphere of Breeze and the beauty of spending a no-rush day at the Marina.
Written for El Gouna Magazine
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