Sign in using your account with
Sheikh Zayed, Cairo, Egypt.
Tempo: Simple but Delicious Fetar Buffet in Sheikh Zayed
When Ramadan rolls around, most of us end our long day of fasting with an elaborate, ample meal, often gorging way more than necessary. A great restaurant for such a fetar is Tempo, located in Allegria Compound in the Cairo suburb of Sheikh Zayed. Tempo occupies a villa with an indoor eating area as well as an outdoor eating area overlooking the Greg Norman signature golf course. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner all year round, Tempo also offers an open buffet for Ramadan.
On a random Ramadan Monday, the buffet offered succulent shish kabab and shish kofta, rice with cinnamon and nuts, as well as whole chicken pieces in a red sauce, a variety of grilled and steamed vegetables, and Chinese noodles with meatballs. Patrons also had a choice of soups: chicken vermicelli and cream of potato. Also on the menu were meat cubes in a brown glaze, puréed potato, and courgettes with béchamel sauce.
Already set on the table upon our arrival ten minutes before fetar were glasses of karkadeh and amar el din and appetisers such as kobeba, cheese sambousak and a plate of foul, in addition to salad, pickled cucumbers, baba ghanough and tehina.
As for our main meal, the rice was surprisingly very close, if not identical, to its homemade counterpart. The meat cubes in a brown glaze were perfectly cooked; neither too tough nor falling part, which is an achievement in itself. The steamed veggies were a bit overcooked, but the grilled veggies were textbook perfection.
The dessert corner offered perfectly cooked, velvety crème brûlée, crème caramel, om ali, and chocolate mousse, all of which were pre-prepared in individual serving cups and mini-bowls. The dessert corner also served freshly cut fruits such as mango, pineapple, watermelon and plums.
The mousse cup had a layer of soggy rice crispies at the bottom, but the mousse itself was very rich and well-made. The amar el din fell short of the homemade version by being too watered down, but the karkadeh compensated by being on point in its perfect ratio of sweetness to tanginess.
Luckily the weather was quite pleasant, coupled with a set of outdoor fans that kept a steady breeze wafting our way. A large outdoor screen featured a selection of Ramadan TV programming, as did the flat-screen TV set indoor to accommodate the indoor eating area.
Part of Tempo also serves as a golfing shop catering to the golf course's users, many of whom came straight from the course to fetar. The décor is casual chic, with the interior furnished in contemporary neutral-coloured pieces. A wall of bookshelves invites you to have a read if you’re flying solo for breakfast or a midday coffee.
The price of 123LE per person covers everything already set on the table and offered at the buffet. You will be charged for sodas, juices and hot drinks. But for this rate, the offerings and their quality, along with the atmosphere and the view were a definite hit with this reviewer.
When Zamalek institution, La Bodega, closed down at the beginning of 2014, it left a hole in many a heart. While a beachside iteration has since popped up on the North Coast during Sahel Season, its closure has certainly left a gap that not even its replacement, the phenomenal U Bistro, has been able to quite replace in the same way.
But remnants still remain in the form of sister venue, Aperitivo, located on the same floor of the same building. It’s by no means similar in appearance or, one could argue, atmosphere, but La Bodega regulars have adopted it as a replacement and the spirit is very much cut from the same cloth. For those not familiar with Aperitivo, the bar and restaurant maintains a classic element in its décor and design (think wood and glass cabinets displaying various piece of crockery and ornaments) while also using various more modern pieces (the chandeliers are very cool).
Divided into two sections – the bar and the restaurant proper – there isn’t a lot that will jump out at you in its appearance; but that’s the best way to be for a venue of this standing – demure and unpretentious.
There’s been something of a revolution happening at Aperitivo as of late, including the launch of a new menu; one that walks the line between high-end culinary delicacy and the kind of wholesomeness you get with bistro food.
The concise but varied menu covers soups, salads, meat and poultry dishes, as well as pastas and seafood, which is where we began our evening.
We rarely give up the opportunity to try a dish with scallops in it – not only because it’s a rare commodity in Cairo, but because it’s also often mishandled, which felt like the case with Aperitivo’s seared scallop starter (155LE). While it was a creative and enticing dish, the scallops were slightly overcooked, the accompanying black truffle was too little, though the spiced apple puree that also accompanies the dish gave a pleasant sweetness to every bite despite tasting more like a beetroot puree. Meanwhile, four sticks of asparagus were cooked and seasoned perfectly, while a faint balsamic reduction did little to elevate the rest of the ingredients.
Among the menu’s salads, we were seduced by the camembert salad, which brought together generous chunks of deep-fried camembert cheese together with mixed greens, roasted pears, sundried tomatoes and walnuts. The greens were fresh, the sundried tomatoes added a sweet acidity to thick, pungent cheese and the walnuts gave the whole dish an earthy touch. However, the pears were undetectable, which is a real shame as it could have been the ingredient that brought everything together.
While various mains are included in the new menu, we decided to test the kitchen’s mettle with meats. Despite being served with far too much uncooked fat, a medium-cooked sirloin steak (150LE) was full of flavour and served in a very big portion, alongside some perfectly made oven baked vegetables. Our second dish, the roast veal fillet, was also of a noticeably good quality and served in a large portion, though it was unevenly cooked, meaning some pieces were a little tough and others had a perfect pink interior.
Unfortunately, there was not much else to talk about with the mains, despite the menu promising more; the veal dish, for example, should come with roast pumpkin ad soft polenta, but both were missing from the plate, as was the roasted garlic on the steak dish.
This, actually, defined our meal; what we were served was well-made, but with so much missing from both mains – as well as the missing pear from the salad – severely dwindling what promised to be a fine evening of fine dining. Would we go again? Absolutely – the new menu reads fantastically; but maybe the kitchen needs a little more time to perfect it.