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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.
After its smashing success on the North coast, Café Blanc wasted no time in opening in Cairo and, not unlike its Sahel branch, the restaurant-cafe takes up an outdoor seating area at Cairo Festival City mall that provides a pleasant an inviting dining experience.
The decor of the venue uses bright vivid colours and comfy, chic seating options make it perfect for a laid back afternoon lunch. The indoor area is even louder, with it's trademark sky blue colour dominating a space that includes some attractive arched ceilings.
We took some time to go through the extensive menu, which included a range of traditional Lebanese dishes with modern twists, from which we chose the Raheb Salad (20LE) and some Tabbouleh (25LE) to start. From the Hot Mezza section, we opted for the Makanek in Pomegranate Molasses Sauce (40LE), Chicken Liver (35LE), Ras Asfour (38LE) and Cheese Rolls (30LE). Since the manakeesh are made right before our eyes in a live cooking station, we had to give them a try so we ordered the Akkawi Chili Man’oushe (35LE). For the mains we had the Kofta Platter (70LE) and Fattet Shawarma (55LE).
Shortly our salad arrived accompanied by a basket of steaming warm bread. The Tabouleh was light and zesty while the Raheb Salad was even more impressive with mashed grilled eggplants, diced tomatoes, peppers and onions, marinated with lemon and olive oil.
The hit appetisers quickly followed; the Makanek and Chicken Liver were both smothered in flavoursome, sweet molasses sauce that truly rang in our tastebuds. The Ras Asfour, small thin slices of beef in gravy sauce, came in a rather small portion, but was nonetheless cooked and seasoned well. However, it was the cheese rolls that stole the show, coming piping hot and filled generously.
The friendly waiter then brought in the rest of our dishes promptly. The Kofta platter featured three skewers of Lamb kofta grilled to perfection with a side of delicious wedges and tehina dip. The Man’oushe was authentically Lebanes and stuffed generously with salty Akkawi cheese; needless to say it vanished in a couple of minutes. The Fattah, unfortunately, didn’t fare as well; it was lukewarm, the yoghurt seemed diluted and runny, while there was a strange lack of rice.
From the diverse desserts menu, we opted for Jabal Lebnen (38LE) and the trio pudding (30LE) – the latter of which was recommended by the waiter. Jabal Lebnen is a traditional Lebanese dessert featuring a simple but vibrant combination of flavours; Halawa, pistachios and delicious Mastic Ice cream. The trio pudding was light and sweet, consisting of three servings of rice pudding, muhallabieh and meghleh; a cinnamon and spice-infused pudding.
While many restaurants in the capital claim to serve truly authentic Lebanese dishes, only few actually do and Café Blanc has proved to be among them. The service was impeccable and the friendly waiters made sure to attend to our every need. All in all, we had a rather enjoyable experience despite the fact that some dishes were considered to be over-priced compared to the portions served.