Seventh Star El Gouna
If you say you’re going to eat at Seventh Star, you’re almost guaranteed a response that is something to the effect of “Oh wow, the food is amazing!”. Sometimes, in the day to day, we start to think of food as just….food. But when it is prepared by the likes of Chef Kamal, Chef Maged, Chef Emad and Chef Armea at Seventh Star, you soon realise that food can be more than food. It can be an experience. And the first part of my experience began when I saw the seafood soup starter. Imagine, as I did, a seafood soup. Seafood flavoured water? No no no. When it arrived I exclaimed with an audible “Wow!” at what was set before me: A bowl of soup, yes, but with the topside of crab placed artistically to one side and muscles resting on the layers of said soup’s contents. I marvelled at it for a little while before stepping further into the experience. It was once said that you cannot describe beauty. I would also say that you cannot describe flavour but this creamy soup was absolutely astonishing. Everybody has their own individual tastes, but it was so perfectly prepared, it needed neither a grain of salt nor pepper. And, thankfully, the bowl housed a very healthy amount of muscles, shrimps and fish to make it more than just a soup.
Not to be outdone, the Goats Cheese Salad, served with beef bacon also arrived at the table in all its glory. I had to remind myself that these are starters as the portion sizes are very generous. The salad was presented with toasted Seventh Star bread topped with goats cheese and walnuts and sprinkled with a touch of honey. It tasted better than it looked – and it looked amazing. With some willpower, my partner decided not to finish the large starter as we still had main course and dessert to attend to.
Another figure of speech to be used is spoiled for choice. And that is what we were. The options on the menu were all tantalising but we were given the chef’s top recommendations to choose from which helped narrowed the list a little. Barbequed Sea Bass, Chicken Florentine, and Mixed Grill were presented as options. It was tough, but since the starter was a seafood dish, we chose the Chicken Florentine and the Mixed Grill. Truthfully it was the mention of chicken stuffed with spinach and mozzarella and mushroom sauce that convinced me. And I was not disappointed. The chicken was extremely tender and hinted at a slightly flamed flavour. The stuffing was generous and the accompanying potato wedges were perfectly prepared – crispy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside and coated with a light sprinkle of chives.
I was filling up quickly but it seemed my partner had made the right choice regarding the starter, as the mixed grill was heavy laden with large cubes of beef, chicken and kofta. This dish included fries but they were outdone in flavour by the various meats. The kofta, ground beef on a skewer, was very rich in flavour while both beef and the chicken were melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavoured to perfection.
The managers made a number of visits to our marina side table and asked what we thought. We were both genuinely speechless as words were not enough to express the spectrum of flavours we experienced. “Space for dessert?” I was asked with a knowing grin. As we all know, there is a separate compartment in our stomachs reserved for dessert, which is never touched by savoury foods. And therefore, the answer was an obvious yes. This time we decided not choose for ourselves but to be presented with what Chef Kamal deemed to be some his best.
Peach Melba, an ice cream dessert topped with peach, whipped cream and nuts which all rests in a bath of red fruit coulis was set in front of us. At the same time, the chocolate fondant with berries and ice cream was served. Truly, the flavour and texture of the fondant and the ice cream was so different and so correct that I had to ask why. “Oh, everything is imported from all over the world.” I was told. The cream comes from Denmark and The Netherlands, the chocolate comes from France and Belgium, the butter comes from New Zealand, the flour from America and Germany….and the list continues. Whichever nation produces the best of a certain product, Seventh Star will source it from them. In short, they only use the best. And it really does reward them as the difference in quality is obvious. Needless to say, there is always space for a well-earned coffee to fill in any gaps and I found the Cappucino to be of top quality.
After the day’s conversations, it is clear that Seventh Star is an ethic within itself. The staff are extremely passionate about their work and it is evident that this comes from the top down. Madame Sawiris, owner of Seventh Star, never denies the restaurant anything, the managers tell me. Whatever is needed, she provides without hesitation. This, in turn, creates a solid and firm foundation for the staff to work on. The managers, Charles, Wael and Edison made it very clear: “We’re a management team. Not a hierarchy”. And although each Seventh Star staff member has a different part to play, they are very evidently a team with a common purpose. The real test of these claims is staff turnover. The longevity of the staff is impressive, to say the least. The shortest staff lifespan is currently 8 years and the longest is 16 years. If these numbers don’t display career contentment then I don’t know what does. I was even informed that during personal holiday time, the staff often find themselves back at Seventh Star. I guess it’s like having a child that you love. You’re never truly off duty.
Seventh Star certainly has very solid standing in Gouna and is cornerstone to many restaurants in town. They cater for TUB campus, EL Gouna International School and provide bakery services for many, if not most, of the restaurants and shops in Gouna.
To sum up our experience, we were truly amazed and inspired by Seventh Star’s food, presentation, service and commitment. I’m not sure which one outweighs the other.
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