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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.
There is nothing more disappointing than when a positive first impression later being falsified by the reality of a venue. Leila, a Lebanese eatery with plenty of branches in Cairo and one in Alexandria to boast, sure seemed like the perfect choice for a quick bite in the busy shopping complex, but unfortunately did not manage to live up to expectations.
Located right by the fountain, in a prime location, Leila offers both outdoor and indoor seating. Whereas the indoor seating area is quite cosy, the outdoor area seemed more tempting, given the unusually refreshing spring breeze. Upon being seated, our menus found their way to our table.
Leila’s menu offers a comprehensive array of Lebanese delicacies, including the 'Metabbal Debs El Remmen' (27LE), ich comprises of eggplants smothered in pomegranate molasses, an assortment of Kofta dishes (77LE), as well as mixed grill options (99LE-149LE), Lahm Baajine (42LE), an assortment of Lebanese pastries (55 LE), as well as some grilled chicken based dishes and authentic Lebanese desserts.
Feeling a bit adventurous, we went for two Lebanese pizzas (55LE each), not exactly knowing what to expect. For some pre-food refreshments, we went for mint green tea as well as Vanilla-Coconut and Peach flavoured shishas (40LE each).
The process of ordering, which included us having to go through a few waiters, was hectic. Our table was peculiarly not assigned a single waiter, and so whereas one would be taking our food orders, another would be taking our drink orders.
Arriving a good fifteen minutes after ordering, the shishas were initially light yet flavourful, but then no proper coal maintenance made the experience shortlived. The pizzas, which arrived ten minutes after the shishas, were surprising to say the least and looked nowhere near traditional. Presented on ceramic platters atop a metal stand, the pizzas were slightly cold and boasted uncooked pieces of homemade mozzarella cheese, topped with Rocca leaves and tomato slices atop a thin pastry.
Whereas the pastry tasted more like that of Manakeesh rather than pizza, the mozzarella cheese was quite delicious, yet the overall taste of the dish as a whole was quite disappointing.
The mint green tea seemed to have been completely forgotten, despite us asking for it twice, yet finally made a surprise appearance towards the end of our meal. To wrap up, Leila was a confusing mixture of a great location, with spot on ambiance, but dissapointing service.