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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Fuze: Lobby Bar at Fairmont Heliopolis
Smack dab in the middle of the Fairmont Towers Heliopolis, between the old building and the new, is Fuze – one of the hotel’s many bars.
It’s hard to miss this place with its brightly lit orange bar,padded high chairs and tables overlooking the hotel’s atrium.
In addition to the high tables on an elevated level next to the bar, there are low bar stools almost like beanbags and various other seating, including comfy beige couches behind glass shades, all around the sides and the back of the bar.
Service at Fuze is prim and proper: we were quickly greeted, seated and handed menus a little too big for a cocktail bar – but then again this bar offers a serious number of cocktails and even an impressively extensive food selection.
They’re pretty well stocked: not only will you find top-notch bottles of liquor like Grey Goose, Blue Label and such; but you’ll also find options that are lighter on the wallet like Finlandia and Johnny Walker’s Red Label.
Once you’ve made your selection, the bartenders will prepare your drink very quickly; and they’re pretty generous with their pouring to say the least. Our whiskey-coke double (180LE) came in a highball glass almost brimming with Red Label, and the coke mixer was served separately in a cool-looking, little water jug: to add to your liking.
If whiskey isn’t your thing, Fuze has a drastic array of flavoured vodkas (even Limited Edition Absolut flavours) and liquors for their widespread cocktail list. Like something that’s not on the list? If they have the ingredients and you’re patient in explaining to the bartender what you want; they’ll whip it up for you right away.
A bottle of Heineken at this bar will set you back around 30LE; so if other drink selections are a bit expensive for you, then you can stick to beer and the bar will provide you with an assortment of complementary nuts and pretzels. Don’t worry about wolfing them down; the waitress will keep them coming as long as drink orders are happening.An order of two beers, and three doubles complete with mixers came to a total of 600LE: it’s not the most wallet-friendly of bars in Cairo; but Fuze still manages to throw a good deal with the amount of liquor they pour into your drinks.
On a quiet square, off the busy Mohy El Din Abu El Ezz Street, a mysterious, dark, basement door conceals the loud buzz of excitement from the crowded bar beyond it. The gold walls contrasted with deep reds and blacks exudes a majestic aura and the large mirrors and gargoyle type masks adorning the walls continued to add to the otherworldly atmosphere.
We swiftly headed to the monumental, fully stocked bar and picked up one of the thick, maroon and gold menus. The pages were printed on textured, organic paper and the writing was accompanied by detailed, supernatural illustrations. The first page was dedicated to an introduction, comparing the chef's and barmen to alchemists as they are able to transform standard, raw materials into 'gastronomical gold'.
With the intention of ordering food, we decided to first order a couple of cocktails; one fruity Cinderella (30LE) and a slightly bitter Virgin Mary (30LE). As their hot drink section is almost non-existent, Alchemy is not the place to haunt if you're hoping for a cosy cup of tea – not that we're complaining.
The food menu is full of inventive, avant garde dishes with an assembly of 'brews' (soups), 'sprightly greens' (salads), 'virtuous temptations' (small bites), 'golden fantasies' (mains) and 'heavenly sins' (desserts).
We requested vols-au-vent (30LE) to start, followed by veal chops (140LE) and stuffed chicken breast (75LE). Although a little tepid, the vols-au-vent were superb; crispy, soft and smooth in all the right places. The chicken also arrived slightly cold, but the stuffing exploded with a medley of flavours. This dish was served with a fresh, spicy salad which was indeed, too spicy to consume.
The veal chops didn't materialise for a long time, either because they were forgotten about or because of the kitchen was overwhelmed with orders. However, when the dish did arrive, we were impressed by the colossal, tender veal chop and the tasty dressing but dismayed that its bed of chunky chips was stone cold.
Alchemy is an original, incomparable and bewitching venue which is unquestionably worth visiting. This places encourages a young, vibrant and sophisticated crowd and would be a great place to socialise at the weekends.