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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Saladero: New Salad Bar in Zamalek
If there is something that always gets us excited at the Cairo 360 office it’s the prospect of healthy food. Having been impressed by the Salad in Heliopolis, we were excited to find out that another salad bar would open in Zamalek. AUC students might be familiar with the name Saladero on account of the on-campus branch, but the healthy eatery has opened a new branch on Taha Hussein Street where Munchies once was before moving next door.
Saladero is relatively small and only has a few tables to sit on. On the left side is the salad bar and a small cooler where the sandwiches are kept. The system at Saladero is as follows: you choose a salad base first. The available options are lettuce, spinach and pasta. From here, you add two premium ingredients. The list of premium ingredients is quite long but consists of items such as tuna, turkey, mushrooms, cheese and corn. If you want to add shrimp or salmon to your salad you have to fork out an extra 5LE. You can then add unlimited vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, beets, olives, potatoes and eggs. Then finally, you can add a dressing to your salad.
We opted for a lettuce salad (22LE) with chicken, corn, cheese, vegetables and Caesar dressing. Though the chicken was nicely grilled and the salad was filling, some of the vegetables were not fresh. We also took a pasta salad (22LE) and topped that with salmon (5LE), onion, vegetables and olive oil vinegar dressing as advised by the staff. The whole salad tasted rather bleak. Once again the vegetables weren’t fresh and therefore relatively tasteless. The pasta was al dente but bland and added nothing to the meal except for carbs.
Thankfully, we also took the club sandwich (22LE) which was rather good. It was made up of three layers; one filled with eggs, the other with cheddar cheese and one with beef slices, all of which passed the taste-test with decent results. The bread was a bit soggy though and drenched by tomato but nevertheless quite pleasant.
Though we love the concept behind Saladero and the staff are extremely helpful and polite, we feel like they have a long way to go. Healthy food doesn't have to be plain or boring and so perhaps some more exciting ingredients such as blue cheese, brie, grapes, kiwi, etc would have us coming back for more.
Recently opened, Lettuceat in Zamalek is already proving itself to be a real contender in the realm of healthy eating in Cairo. Banishing the notions of bland salads, Lettuceat aims to combine succulent meats to fresh greens and delectable vinaigrettes, creating masterpiece meals from fresh ingredients.
The small restaurant’s sparkling glass front shows off the white, sterile interior while a single dining table invites patrons to eat in –although take-away or delivery may be the preferred option.
An open-fronted refrigerator shows off Lettuceat’s own brand of healthy spreads, ready-mixed vinaigrettes (15LE-22LE) and fresh, sweetened juices. Perfect as either dips or sandwich spreads, the potted flavours include tomato bruscetta (20LE), tuna paste (30LE), foie de volaille – or chicken liver pate (35LE) - baba ghanouj (20LE) and more. A range of unusual fresh loaves of bread are also available; from standard white French baguettes to multigrain loaves (8LE-11LE) as well as different types of olive bread (3.5LE-13LE).
Using fresh ingredients, the juices include strawberry, mango, guava and orange (8LE-8.5LE). We went for one bottle of strawberry and one guava juice, both of which were delicious, perfectly sweetened and sporting real fruit pieces without the drink being too thick.
The menu is a colourful representation of their exotic salad dishes. As well as an ‘authentic’ Greek Salad and both chicken and shrimp variations of the Caesar salad (46LE-54LE) there are also some more unusual concoctions, such as the smoked duck treat (57LE) and a 'rich tuna' Nicoise (52LE). They even offer a pasta salad –Italy's Finest (38LE).
After much deliberation, we opted for one Delish Tuscan (49LE) – a salad of watercress, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesan and cashews, topped with balsamic dressing. We also chose a tomato, cucumber and lettuce based Mexican Delight (49LE); a tropical-sounding mixture of marinated grilled chicken, carrot, onion, sweet corn, red kidney beans, cheddar cheese and red peppers with a zesty ‘Mehico’ dressing.
Expecting a small side-dish of sorts, we were pleasantly surprised at the generously sized salads we were presented with moments later. Each one was presented with a personal sized loaf of flavourful, wholemeal bread which were crispy and covered with seeds on the outside but brilliantly soft on the inside. The Delish Tuscan was served with a side of crispy croutons whilst the Mexican Delight came with a small handful of crunchy tortilla chips.
As Lettuceat’s slogan suggests; both our salads were fresh and ‘delish’. The interesting choice of ingredients complimented one another perfectly and presented a palette of different flavours whilst the vinaigrettes remained delicious but subtle, so as not to overpower the salads themselves. The balsamico dressing was a perfect blend of oil and vinegar, seasoned with a small amount of herbs and although we couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was in the ‘Zesty Mehico’ dressing, it was surprisingly sweet and tangy, just as it’s name inferred. The sliced chicken chunks in the Mexican salad were generous, well-sized, moist and excellently cooked; delicately flavoured by the tikka-style marinade.
Not wanting to ruin our healthy meal, we had difficulty not ordering one of their delicious-looking pavlovas (21LE) or smooth granola desire (25LE) complete with fresh fruit, yoghurt and granola. If their salads were anything to go by, we’d dare to suggest that either of these desserts would be equally as - if not more - scrumptious.