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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Le Capitol, Bab El Kahera: All-Inclusive Zamalek Sohour Buffet with Incredible Views
There's nothing quite like a birds-eye view of the city, observing the hustle and bustle from afar whilst escaping both the noise and pollution. This Ramadan, Le Capitol returns to the rooftop of Zamalek's Novotel hotel, serving up a breathtaking 360 view for as far as the eye can see. Appearing for sohour, we paid the all-inclusive 200LE entrance fee and were courteously shown to our table.
Ditching last year's cool blue hues, the venue has gone for a more festive, albeit gharish, red theme, which is reflected in an array of decorative flags and lanterns. The sohour is an open buffet and we were offered an array of traditional drinks, fresh juices and all the soda options. The soft drinks are served chilled along with a glass of ice, and whilst their amar el din could have done with a tad more sugar; it was thick, fresh and delectable none the less.
The buffet itself was small but adequate, with a salad bar brimming with the likes of taboula, fattoush, hommos, cheese and tomato, tehina and fluffy baladi bread. Both the taboula and fattoush were marinated in a strong vinaigrette, whilst all three dips were creamy and appeasing; the unusual addition of dill to the cheese and tomato dip gave a particularly fresh flavour.
Although not the largest we've seen, the selection of mains carried just about everything you would need, from well-seasoned foul and wonderfully milky scrambled eggs, to meat dishes and grills. The sambousak was crispy, some filled with mince meat and others filled with bitter-sweet white cheese, while the taameya and kobeiba were crispy on the outside but soft on the inside – as they should be. The cuts of meat included large, succulent chunks of shish tawouk, some strong-tasting kofta, and sogok sausages complete with a spicy kick. Although largely inoffensive, none of the dishes particularly stood out.
The dessert table was also nicely varied, offering something for everyone, including a large platter of Oriental sweets, a syrup-filled, velvety basbousa, fresh fruit salad and a sweet and tasty Om Ali, which was unfortunately lacking the usual crunch of nuts and raisins.
We usually air on the side of caution when hotels claim something is 'all inclusive', however, the Novotel are true to their word; even their deliciously smooth shisha comes as part of the 200LE price. We can highly recommend both the exotic coconut and the fruity grape shishas.
As always, the service at Le Capitol was impeccable and this, combined with simple dishes and exquisite views, makes this rooftop venue an excellent choice for an evening's Sohour, albeit a fairly expensive one.
in the lead up to Ramadan, Cairo’s Twitter and Facebook activity was rife with
a mysterious Franco-Arabic name; Le Capitol: Bab El Kahera. Like any good
hype-machine, the obscurity of what this Ramadan tent was all about made it
that much more alluring.
Set atop the Novotel Cairo El Borg at the Kasr El Nil Bridge's Zamalek end, Le Capitol hinges much of its attraction on its view. Though the rooftop space is small, the 360 degree view of Cairo is nothing short of stunning. The sights and sounds that engulf the hotel aren’t always sweet on the palate, but we were lucky enough to be sat on a side that overlooked Gezira Club’s greenery.
Seconds before the call of prayer marking the end of the day’s fast, plenty of water and Ramadan drinks were delivered to our table. As Egyptian culinary law seems to dictate, the amar el din and karkadeh were unbearably sweet.
fetar through the glory of a buffet (140LE per person), the selection of food on offer is adequate
in the sense that there are no real surprises. Classic Egyptian dishes are
aplenty with mousakka, rice with vermicelli and various grilled meats being the
highlight of what overall was a pedestrian spread. There was no real flair with
how anything was prepared and everything needed salt. On the plus side, the salad table was full of fresh salads, hummus, baba ghanough and tehina - all of which were great appetisers with fresh balady bread.
The meal really falls down with the desserts, however. Only a very small table is dedicated to oriental sweets and other treats, and if you’re not quick, you might walk up with plate in hand and find but a few crumbs. A variation of baklava was the most prominent offering; the altitude must have had some effect, because they were mostly stale and brittle all over. Also on offer was a rather watery fruit salad and a viscous concoction of pumpkin and honey. It was flinchingly sweet and looked like it had been boiling and bubbling in a big black cauldron for hours.
Atmosphere wise, Le Capitol’s set up is great. Tables for two and and for larger groups are strategically laid out and provide intimacy without compromising the lively bustle. The blue colour theme is instantly forgettable, but at least it doesn’t aggravate the eyes. As expected, service is prompt and the staff are helpful.
Despite its numerous follies, the biggest turn off is the choice to screen Ramadan soap operas. This seasonal television does of course come part and parcel of Ramadan festivities, but digging into some moussaka while watching a man whale as he gets whipped by some rogue balady gangs on a ten-foot projection doesn’t do much for an appetite.