Papillon is a nice, spacious and almost palatial Lebanese restaurant located on 26th July St. in Mohandiseen, across from the Zamalek Sporting Club. The large, peach-coloured building is hard to miss, but doesn’t really give away any clue of what’s inside.

Walking through the rustic wood doors, we were greeted by a lobby of sorts, with comfortable stylish couches gathered around a coffee table, which end up serving as a reception to the dining room up the large marble stairs.

Once up the stairs, the waiter escorted us to one of the large window-side tables in their elegant dining room, and very kindly asked us whether we minded the TV playing on a beautiful wooden bureau, before bringing us the menus.

The view from the traditional wood windows over 26th July St. and the Zamalek Club isn’t as impressive as the interior decor, which is designed in a grand Medieval Italian theme, with decorative paintings hanging on red and peach-coloured walls, an exposed wood beam ceiling, a large marble fireplace, comfortable cushioned high-back armchairs slightly reminiscent of thrones, and chandeliers everywhere.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? This mansion is quite cavernous yet it somehow manages to be cosy, giving diners the feeling that they’re having dinner at their Lebanese great-aunt’s house. Fairouz plays in the background and the large, nicely arranged tables seem ready to host a few families.

We ordered portions of kebbeh, fatoush, boneless chicken, and mixed grill, finishing with crème caramel, as the ‘Lebanese pastries’ and ‘chef’s cake of the day’ weren’t available.

The kebbeh (4.50LE each) were soft, moist, light and flavourful; a nice surprise for a non kebbeh-enthusiast. The fatoush (12LE) was fresh, with perfectly crunchy delicious fried shami bread, and a tasty dressing that was just a tad too sour.

The boneless chicken (55LE) was a large, tender, barbequed portion with special sauce that was almost too filling. However, the mixed grill (65LE and without the chicken for variety’s sake) was a little disappointing. Tender pieces of meat were…tender, but also rich and slightly under-flavoured. The kofta kabab was also rather bland and heavy, and had the distinct taste of meat that proved too much, even for this carnivore.

The crème caramel (12LE) came in a syrupy orange sauce that might have been overpowering. It was a pleasant surprise, though the dessert itself was rather sweet, thick and eggy– but still good.

At 180LE for two including water, we had a good meal in pleasant surroundings and didn’t have much to complain about. The service was quick and polite, prices were average, and portions were alright. We did make a reservation but apart from another party or two, we were alone on a weekday evening, which only enhanced the intimacy in an otherwise vast space.