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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Grizzly Diner: Burgers at New American Diner in Zamalek
We recently asked what Cairo’s favourite burger joint was, and the responses threw up everything from Fuddruckers and Burger Kitchen to the baladi burgers of Amo Hosny. We were recently very impressed with the burgers at Jobo Sports Bar in El Gouna, so now we’re on the lookout for something as good here in Cairo.
The newly opened Grizzly Diner has filled the gap next to Coffee Shop Company on Zamalek’s Abul Feda Corniche, promising an authentic American diner experience.
Two seating areas are available. The indoor seating is a shiny black space with a decent view of the Nile. The steps to the side of the entrance take you to the slightly larger outdoor area on a lower deck, where the kitchen also is. The decor only really mimics the bright red of a diner in its chairs, although metal plaques featuring the names and badges of American football teams and doo-wop music coming through the speakers add a little atmosphere.
The cuisine at Grizzly Diner includes burgers, steak, pasta and chicken. The combo platter (34.99LE) consists of mozzarella sticks, mushrooms onion rings and chicken wing lollipops – all fried. Nothing really stood out, but the serving was generous and would satisfy two or three people.
Two versions of every burger are offered; home-grown and Australian Angus. The menu tells us that the former is made of meat grazed locally, and that the latter is imported prime beef. There’s about a 15LE difference in price, and anyone who has had Australian Angus before won’t mind paying the extra.
Each burger comes with several options for sides. You can choose between variously prepared potatoes (fries, wedges, mashed, skins), a serving of Caesar salad or a small portion of one of the varieties of pasta that the menu offers.
The burgers arrive at your table on a wooden serving paddle, and the generous portion of wedges is served in a small bucket. The mushrooms in the shitaki mushroom burger (44.99LE) were barely discernible, but the meat itself was cooked to a perfect pink inside, and the salad was noticeably fresh. The same applied to the BBQ onion straws burger (44.99LE), though it barely had any of the BBQ sauce that the menu promised. The wedges were chunky, seasoned well and served hot, and the Caesar salad was fresh though its dressing was quite runny.
The obvious choice for afters was the apple pie (24.99LE) – the most American of all desserts. Expecting a slice of sweet golden-crusted pie, we received two squares of a floppy brown goo with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and lines of caramel sauce. The apple was well overcooked and the crust had the consistency of a layer from inside a bowl of om ali.
Milkshakes are offered in a range of different combos at 21.99LE. The cookie dough shake and the rolling stones shake were both more watery than the American versions that they try to imitate, although they’re served in metal tumblers as per American tradition. The rolling stone shake is made of pineapple, banana and coconut. Without getting too scientific about blended fruits, we found that pineapple and banana are generally too different in consistency to go well together.
Zamalek locals can pop by Grizzly Diner in the morning for a pancake breakfast, but the burgers are absolutely where Grizzly can make its mark. Trying so desperately to imitate an American diner, however, may send it off track.
One the biggest obstacles of dining out at any of Cairo’s restaurants is the city’s unpredictable and often outrageous traffic. It’s maybe why mall-dining, for all its flaws, is so popular; it's just quite nice to have a selection of eateries in front of you - something that recently opened river-side food court, the Platform, in Maadi offers.
After a long, drawn-out marketing campaign, regional franchise, Lord of the Wings, finally opened its doors and already looks set to be a firm favourite in the city.
As its name suggests, the restaurant’s main culinary feat is chicken wings, prepared using a variety of marinates and sauces. For variety’s sake, the menu also offers salads along with steak and chicken sandwiches.
Lord of the Wings is centrally located, right after the entrance. There is limited seating space indoors, since most of the dining is expected to be done in the Platform’s courtyard, overlooking the Nile. The design is everything one has come to associate with a typical American diner, apart from the unnecessary flat screen TVs.
The menu is presented in the style of a check-list for diners to mark their orders. Wings are available in 6, 12, and 24 piece platters of regular and boneless varieties (48LE – 112LE). The sauces available include hot sauces with ranging degrees of spiciness, served with sour cream and fresh vegetable cuts. A variety of creative dressings include interesting options such as garlic sauce with parmesan cheese and Korean sesame sauce. Both of these were delicious; our wings were drenched with a thick topping of the garlic sauce that boasted melted parmesan. Although the Korean sauce was slightly salty, it maintained a uniquely authentic Asian flavour.
Poultry aside, their 3x3 burger (74LE) is huge, with three patties served with a side order of nachos and coleslaw. Their beef is of a high quality, perfectly seasoned and topped with layers of cheddar cheese and jalapenos. If indulging in their ‘make your own’ burger (61LE) option, be wary that additions such as bacon and parmesan can add a lot to the price. One of the most enticing offers here, however, is the refillable soft drink cup (22LE) - an essential when it comes to some of the restaurant's spicier options.
While we struggled to sit for long in the cold outdoors at the Platform, there was little to detract from the dining experience, so to speak; big portions, big flavours.