Formerly known as the Safir Hotel, this Nile-side hotel in Zamalek is the newest addition to the Hilton Branch and is now known as the Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences. Located on the hotel’s terrace facing the swimming pool is the latest Ramadan nightspot, Faraya.

View-wise Faraya has a lot going for it, unfortunately that’s about as far as it goes.We encountered our first problem when trying to make a reservation. It took hours before someone finally answered our calls and we were told this was because they have issues with their phone line. Since sohour was already fully booked for the coming days, we opted for fetar instead.

Faraya is laid out like a lounge with pink and grey dominating the furniture’s colour scheme. Around the swimming pool, a few low tables and poufs are set up. If you’re not in the mood for lounging; take one of the tables by the wall as they have either seats or couches to sit on. The problem that you will encounter here is that either the seats are too low or the tables are too high. Half of the venue is furnished with rather unattractive looking chairs that are also used in the indoor restaurant, where Faraya’s buffet is laid out. Entertainment is provided by a large screen showing Ramadan TV series.

The starters buffet offers standard appetisers such as hummus and baba ghanough and some salads such as pasta salad and tuna salad. We sampled the chicken cream soup but weren’t really excited by it as it contained way too much cream. On the other hand, the dolmas were delicious, as was the baba ghanough. The hummus was a big disappointment; the dip was very dry and without any taste whatsoever. The nicoise salad with potato, egg and paprika was a nice variation of the original recipe. Don’t bother with the pasta salad; it lacked flavour.

The main courses fared better. We were absolutely infatuated with the potato gratin: the sauce was creamy, the potatoes were firm and the subtle cheese layer on top gave just enough flavour without being overwhelmingly heavy. The roast beef was good too but the mushrooms that came with it were a bit slimy. The rice with peas was a nice alternative to the standard plain rice, but it wasn’t that exciting either. The deep-fried cod was a bit too greasy to our liking, whereas the grilled chicken was prepared well, cooked perfectly and full of flavour.

The dessert buffet consists of konafa, basbousa, mahalabeya and other Oriental sweets. The baa’lawa with cream was awesome; very sweet yes, but oh so tasty. It had the perfect right amount of honey and cream. Expect it to get messy, though; the dough is very crunchy and if you take a bite, the honey drips out. There were some Western desserts as well such as chocolate cake and coconut cake. They are better left untouched as both cakes were very dry and tasteless.

The service wasn’t that terrific either and we found our table still piled up with empty plates after returning back from round number two at the buffet. The fetar buffet costs 140LE ++ per person and for what you get, this is far too high a price to pay.