With so many restaurants in Cairo elaborately expanding their menus to adapt to fads and trends, it's often refreshing to come across the simpler, more traditional eateries. One such place is Hamam we Sman in Heliopolis, who, with the exception of a few vegetable and poultry tagines, offer pigeon and quail dishes. The restaurant is elegantly decorated and modestly sized and exudes a vibe reminiscent of restaurants around the Al Hussein area.

Upon arrival, we were happily welcomed by the staff, who guided us to one of the few tables in the restaurant. Our first impression was one of concern; being the only customers and with limited staff, the restaurant felt deserted.

The menu is pleasantly varied without deviating far from the restaurant's specialties. Soups such as pigeon, creamy chicken and orzo were available, with prices spanning from 5LE to 20LE. Main courses, such as rice-stuffed pigeon or quail, range from 50LE to 68LE. Amongst other options, tagines include okra with meat (25LE), molokheya (15LE) and cow-tail (65LE). A variety of sides include stuffed vine leaves (20LE), hawawshi (20LE), samosas (20LE) or rice mix (6LE), while oriental salads such as tomato salad, baba ghanoug and tahina (5LE each) were also available.

When it came time to order, we opted for stuffed pigeon and grilled chicken (50LE) with a plate of rice and nuts (6LE) and a plethora of salads. Around ten minutes after placing our order, we were served with complimentary dishes of molokheya made with pigeon soup and some flavoursome stuffed vine leaves. Both dishes were delicious, instantly and completely diminishing any doubts we might have had on account of how empty the restaurant was. Perfect for dipping, the salads were also flawless.

The stuffed pigeon mains were incredible; from the outstanding marinade to the peppery stuffing, which managed to avoid the usual sloppy texture. Though a pair of pigeons here are expensive, the cleanliness and the skill of the chef certainly makes them worth the money. In comparison with the rest of the food, the chicken dish was acceptable, but no more than mediocre.

Our only complaint was directed towards the waiter who insisted on standing too close to our table throughout the meal; this made us feel uncomfortable and overly attended to whilst we got stuck into a very messy meal.

Despite poor first impressions, the quality of food and hospitality from the staff at Hamam we Sman left us feeling like we'd had a fabulous home cooked meal.