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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Fattoush: Affordable Lebanese Fast Food in Citystars
After a long day of shopping at mammoth shopping mall Citystars, one always yearns for a good meal to refuel. So we decided to try some Lebanese food to get us going.
Located on the fourth floor, Fattoush serves up authentic Lebanese food and the menu features a lot of enticing options. Lebanese salads like fattoush and taboula are available; other options include garlic dip, tehina, coleslaw and pickles. The menu is only available in Arabic, so it would make it difficult for non-native speakers to make a selection.
To us, ordering Lebanese food always entails ordering our all-time favourite mana'eesh. However, we were majorly disappointed when we were told it wasn't available.
After much thought, we ordered a small plate of stuffed vine leaves (12LE) and cheese sambousak (9 LE) to begin. The Lebanese way of preparing vine leaves differs slightly from the Egyptian one; Egyptians normally have this dish as a main course and is served hot, whereas the Lebanese version is served chilled, as an appetizer, with lemon and olive oil.
We liked the stuffed vine leaves, but we still prefer our good old Egyptian way, and we were quite annoyed at how drenched it was in olive oil.
The sambousak could easily pass as the best we’ve ever had. Four semi-circles were served with small fried pieces of shami bread; dipping the sambousak in the garlic dip made for an amazing combination. However, we were mildly disappointed at how greasy they were. Other sambousak fillings include the much-lighter spinach or minced meat.
Fattoush also offers Lebanese grilled meals. A kilo of shish kabab will set you back 179LE; while kofta, grilled chicken and shish tawouk are also available. All main courses are served with a side of rice and salad.
We also ordered the chicken fajita sandwich (18LE); the sandwiches are normally prepared using French bread, but for an extra 2.50LE, you can either have the Saj bread or Lebanese bread.
The fajita sandwich was too greasy for our liking; the thin slices of chicken were cooked with black olives, green pepper and mayonnaise and while we liked the flavour, we disliked how it dripped with oil. And although it was supposed to be firmly wrapped, the oil still found a way onto our clothes.
In short, if you happen to be emptying your pockets in Citystars' shops, but have a growling stomach, Fattoush makes for an affordable Lebanese option. Now, you probably won't be blown away by the cuisine, but it will satisfy your Lebanese craving until something better comes along.
One cuisine we can never say no to is the Lebanese. Somehow it manages to be both light yet decadent enough to satisfy any of our cravings for hearty food. Tamara, one of Cairo’s newer yet already widely coveted Lebanese eateries recently opened its doors in New Cairo and we couldn’t wait to grab a bite.
Offering a rather small indoor seating area, which was packed to its brim at the time of our visit, alongside a breezier outdoor seating area, Tamara overlooks Cairo Festival City Mall’s infamous dancing fountain. The whole feel of the place is modern-Arabian, with vibrant chandeliers and furnishing. Our waiter seated us outdoors on colourful, yet uncomfortable metal chairs.
Strangely enough, no menus were set on the table until we asked for them from one of the constantly busy waiters. Tamara offers all kinds of Lebanese delicacies, from delicious-sounding Thyme Manakish (30 LE), luscious Shawermas (40-60 LE), to numerous Grill options, Freek dishes (20-35 LE) and Fettahs (55-80 LE). Their dessert section, however, lured our sweet tooth and we hurriedly glanced through it before settling for their signature Ghazal Beirut (45 LE) and the Yoghurt Ice Cream with Berries and Cashews (30 LE).
Our dessert arrived quite instantly, within a few countable minutes, and we must say that its presentation was totally on point. The Ghazal Beirut came in the form of 2 scoops of Mastic ice cream topped with Mastic-flavoured cotton candy and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. Our first bite confirmed that it tasted even better than it looked, albeit being a tad too sweet. The Yoghurt Ice Cream, consisting of 3 scoops, on the other hand, was less spectacular and noticeably lacking in cashews. It was, nevertheless, quite fresh-tasting.
The evident problem, however, was the un-orderly service; we had to ask for the check twice before it arrived quite a while later.
To wrap up, we loved Tamara’s creative take on the mainstream oriental design; the interior design of the place is simply gorgeous. Also, Ghazal Beirut may as well be the most creative dessert we’ve had in a while. We think, however, that a bit of tweaking in the service departments will definitely go a long way.