Sign in using your account with
Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Palmeraie Grill: Poolside Restaurant at Meridian Heliopolis
In a city where restaurant ventures are developing ever so rapidly, it seems that every owner is expected to follow fads and trends. In a setting that is similar to a typical scene out of an 80’s Egyptian film, Palmeraie is a newly opened grill restaurant inside Meridian Heliopolis, on El Orouba Street in Heliopolis.
Once you enter Meridian Heliopolis through the main gate, make your way over to the swimming pool; you can choose to either sit poolside, near the live performers, or on an elevated terrace overlooking the premises.
Palmeraie is what could be described as a typical hotel restaurant though its décor might seem quite outdated in comparison.
The choice of blue chairs works well with the water of the pool. The candle holders on the tables however could easily be mistaken for a bong or a medieval torture weapon. There are two separate menus; one for food and another for drinks.
Alcoholic beverages such as Cognac, liquors and spirits are available. Whisky types range in prices from 45LE to 75LE and a Stella will cost you 28LE. Seeing as the drinks were quite overpriced, we went ahead and ordered mango juice (22LE). We also ordered an apple shisha; surprisingly inexpensive standing at 13LE.
Everything in Palmeraie is light; the chairs are very light and easy to move around; the cups are also quite light, probably since they are plastic. Much to our dismay, the mango juice also turned out to be quite light tasting, where it lacked that needed kick. Even though we were practically the only people there, the shisha seemed to take forever to arrive, and when it did, it tasted quite ordinary.
The food menu offers a variety of different grills, quite expensive. The oriental mixed grill (145LE), veal kebab (130LE), lamb kofta and kebab (110LE) were among some of the grilled dishes available. Also offered were sea food options such as grilled fillet of sea bass (80LE) and a section of dietary suggestions.
We settled on the mini hawawshi (45LE) from the vast appetisers’ section. The mini hawawshi was exceptional, served with a side of French fries and traditional Egyptian pickles; the minced meat was deliciously spiced.
If you’re into the oldies, you’re probably going to dig the music being played. Whether English or Arabic songs, anything 80’s was on their list. The singer even sung ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion.
Palmeraie lacks some elements that attract the younger crowds; aside from the minimum charge of 70LE, the prices are very expensive in comparison to similar venues. And while the live music was entertaining, some more recent and upbeat jams could have added to the playful, summer ambience.
Cairo restaurants and cafes have seen numerous trends over the years and recently, the emergence of fondue has become apparent all over the city. Run by two young entrepreneurs and a team of friendly waiters, the Fondue Pot in Heliopolis celebrates the Swiss dish in all its forms.
Sitting above Mood Restaurant and Lounge on Abdel Moneim Hafez Street, the exterior of the restaurant resembles a Swiss chalet with natural wood accents and traditional windows. The interior is equally as charming; wooden seating, red and white checkered tablecloths and Swiss memorabilia hang from the beams.
Being one of just two groups, the menus arrived quickly, along with an explanation of some of the dishes. The drinks menu includes a long list of fresh juices, mocktails, iced teas, frappes and hot drinks, including a selection of the increasingly popular ‘Nespresso’ coffees. We went for one Geneva mocktail (22LE) – a deliciously fruity, slushy concoction of peach, orange and passionfruit – and an icey Lugano (23LE); a fresh, citrusy, but sweet, mixture of orange, lemon, guava and honey.
The food menu doesn’t limit itself to just your basic cheese fondue, but instead lists numerous, exotic sounding variations of the traditional dish (90LE-140LE), along with salads, raclettes – a traditional Swiss side dish – chicken, meat and sweet dessert fondues. The restaurant works on a DIY and sharing basis; the portions are large and the meats are cooked at the table, by the customer, using their chosen method. Combo meals are also pre-arranged should you be unsure about what to order.
We ordered a 'traditional combo' (450LE), advisably for two people, which included traditional Swiss cheese fondue, a garden green salad, chicken, traditional raclette and milk chocolate fondue. Before long, the cheese fondue arrived, along with a gigantic bowl of bite-sized, yummy toast pieces and a plate of fresh, crunchy broccoli. We were shown how to turn down and turn off the heat of the flaming fondue contraption, in case our fondue began getting too hot. The fondue was both cheesy and creamy, with a béchamel sauce consistency, perfect for coating our dipping pieces. Our side salad was a healthy mix of fresh greens, dressed with a delectable, flavourful vinaigrette.
Unable to finish our course of fondue, it was replaced by an electronic stone plate, heated and coated with oil, ready to cook our chicken on. The generous servings of raw meat were thinly sliced, served with a selection of six tasty sauces and herbs for seasoning. Our passionate waiter demonstrated how to prepare a raclette with new potatoes, pickled onions and strong tasting gherkins in our tiny, square frying pans. We melted the cheese on top by placing our creations under the grill, beneath the hot plate, and although we cooked everything ourselves, the waiter was never too far away should we have required any guidance.
Next, we dipped pieces of ripe banana, green apple, sweet strawberries and soft kiwi in the heavenly, sweet, milk chocolate fondue. The only thing missing from this scrumptious dessert were spoons to help drink the chocolate straight from the pot, even if such a practice isn't etiquette.
The Fondue Pot provides a unique, sociable dining experience, serving up large quantities of quality food in a cosy, friendly setting which wholly justifies the expense.