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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Dietlicious: Low-Calorie Meals & Snacks from Delivery-Only Cairo Eatery
Across the electic Cairo dining scene, the city's emerging obsession with health, fitness and nutrition has led many food and beverage entrepreneurs to go out of their way to offer healthy options for the calorie-counters among us.
Dietlicious, Cairo's newest delivery-only healthy food restaurant, has just joined the health craze, with a seemingly well-put together menu of low-calorie meals that claim to offer your dietary needs wrapped in sandwiches, tossed in salads and baked in desserts.
We opted for the Dietlicious specialty, oil-free Air Fried Fries (11.95LE), their 399-calorie Chicken Caesar Salad (26.95LE), a Grilled Chicken Wrap (19.95LE) and their miniature 150g Rib Eye Steak (69.95LE).
One can't help but be intrigued by 'air-fried; fries, but they were a complete disappointment; flavourless, limp, mushy.
The Caesar Chicken Salad consisted of lettuce, croutons and grilled chicken. Lacking seasoning or any real flavour, the salad was bland at best, even with the salad dressing which wasn't nearly enough to give it a flavour boost.
When it comes to steak, you expect to to be asked how you would like it cooked - which was overlooked by Dietlicious. Opening up the secure plastic containers, the Rib Eye looked appetising, but in reality, the steak was overcooked beyond belief, leaving chewy and hard to swallow. The accompanying side of steamed vegetables was well cooked, but like so much of the food we ordered, it was bland in flavour.
The only enjoyable experience was the Grilled Chicken Wrap. Wrapped in toasted Tortilla bread, the leanly cooked grilled chicken is topped with just the right amount of cheddar cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and a good quantity of light mayonnaise which, surprisingly, did not lead to soggy bread. Overall, the sandwich was ideal in portion, packed with flavour and held itself together.
Of the three-item dessert menu, we opted for the Flourless Honey-Almond Cake, (7.95LE) which is said to be just 260 calories. Although soft and spongy on the inside, the cake was rather dull and tasteless, salvaged only by the sweetness of a side of side of honey-syrup.
Any new restaurant or food service that makes a conscious effort to produce healthy food should be applauded; but when it comes at the expense of flavour, you can't help but wonder, "What's the point?"
When Zamalek institution, La Bodega, closed down at the beginning of 2014, it left a hole in many a heart. While a beachside iteration has since popped up on the North Coast during Sahel Season, its closure has certainly left a gap that not even its replacement, the phenomenal U Bistro, has been able to quite replace in the same way.
But remnants still remain in the form of sister venue, Aperitivo, located on the same floor of the same building. It’s by no means similar in appearance or, one could argue, atmosphere, but La Bodega regulars have adopted it as a replacement and the spirit is very much cut from the same cloth. For those not familiar with Aperitivo, the bar and restaurant maintains a classic element in its décor and design (think wood and glass cabinets displaying various piece of crockery and ornaments) while also using various more modern pieces (the chandeliers are very cool).
Divided into two sections – the bar and the restaurant proper – there isn’t a lot that will jump out at you in its appearance; but that’s the best way to be for a venue of this standing – demure and unpretentious.
There’s been something of a revolution happening at Aperitivo as of late, including the launch of a new menu; one that walks the line between high-end culinary delicacy and the kind of wholesomeness you get with bistro food.
The concise but varied menu covers soups, salads, meat and poultry dishes, as well as pastas and seafood, which is where we began our evening.
We rarely give up the opportunity to try a dish with scallops in it – not only because it’s a rare commodity in Cairo, but because it’s also often mishandled, which felt like the case with Aperitivo’s seared scallop starter (155LE). While it was a creative and enticing dish, the scallops were slightly overcooked, the accompanying black truffle was too little, though the spiced apple puree that also accompanies the dish gave a pleasant sweetness to every bite despite tasting more like a beetroot puree. Meanwhile, four sticks of asparagus were cooked and seasoned perfectly, while a faint balsamic reduction did little to elevate the rest of the ingredients.
Among the menu’s salads, we were seduced by the camembert salad, which brought together generous chunks of deep-fried camembert cheese together with mixed greens, roasted pears, sundried tomatoes and walnuts. The greens were fresh, the sundried tomatoes added a sweet acidity to thick, pungent cheese and the walnuts gave the whole dish an earthy touch. However, the pears were undetectable, which is a real shame as it could have been the ingredient that brought everything together.
While various mains are included in the new menu, we decided to test the kitchen’s mettle with meats. Despite being served with far too much uncooked fat, a medium-cooked sirloin steak (150LE) was full of flavour and served in a very big portion, alongside some perfectly made oven baked vegetables. Our second dish, the roast veal fillet, was also of a noticeably good quality and served in a large portion, though it was unevenly cooked, meaning some pieces were a little tough and others had a perfect pink interior.
Unfortunately, there was not much else to talk about with the mains, despite the menu promising more; the veal dish, for example, should come with roast pumpkin ad soft polenta, but both were missing from the plate, as was the roasted garlic on the steak dish.
This, actually, defined our meal; what we were served was well-made, but with so much missing from both mains – as well as the missing pear from the salad – severely dwindling what promised to be a fine evening of fine dining. Would we go again? Absolutely – the new menu reads fantastically; but maybe the kitchen needs a little more time to perfect it.