Sign in using your account with
Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Cellardoor Bistro: Local Favourite, International Gourmet
Located around the corner from the Thai restaurant Bua Khao, the bistro has acquired a healthy clientele base over the years for its consistency in delivering quality cuisine in an intimate atmosphere.
When we arrived for a 3pm lunch, we weren’t bothered by the fact that we were the only people there throughout our meal. The quiet background music kept us entertained, while the attentive yet slightly harried waiter kept refilling our complimentary bread basket with toast drenched in shameless amounts of butter and garlic. The basket was served alongside a Tunisian pepper dip with tomatoes and caramelised onions.
For starters, the Mushroom Kiev—stuffed, breaded and deep fried with a garlic parsley dressing—could have been a main course meal of its own given the copious amounts of bread we had just consumed. The Apple Salad with its combination of cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, arugula and apple slices with a pesto dressing is perfect for those inclined to mixing the sweet with the salty.
One dish that never fails to excite this reviewer, no matter how often it is sampled, is the Moroccan style Casbah Chicken. The chicken breast cooked in cinnamon, cumin, brown sugar and orange juice sits perfectly on a bed of raisin risotto, and always delights the taste buds.
For seafood lovers the Seared Norwegian Salmon is cooked just long enough to maintain that fresh, straight out of the sea taste. But the Filletio Tagliato won hands down as the best dish at our table- the stripped beef fillet grilled with rosemary and thyme on wilted spinach and creamy mashed potatoes had us all sneaking bites off our friend’s plate.
By dessert time, most of us were too stuffed to do more than groan at the menu, but the bravest ordered the Zabaglione, an Italian-style warm wine custard that some of us found heavy on the wine, while others lapped it up happily.
Cellardoor Bistro excels at consistency: portions are always generous, the quality is always good and price wise expect to pay between 30LE for starters and desserts to around 70LE for a main dish. In an attempt to attract more clientele (or maybe inject more of an atmosphere) the bistro is branching out a little by hosting an Open Mic night every month. For more information, check out the bistro’s page on Facebook.
Over the last year or so, new restaurants in Cairo have been introducing more and more exotic cuisines to the dining scene, be it Mongolian or even Peruvian with a Japanese twist, leaving classic favourites like Italian and Asian last week’s news. However, recently opened restaurant, Akli, has gone against the tide and specialises in not only one cuisine, but six, across everything from soups to desserts.
Located off Meccas Street in Dokki, Akli is divided into two zones; the ground floor, which has a exposed glass-wall baking room and shawerma station that wasn’t working at the time of our visit, is made for take-out orders, while the top floor is for dining-in. Besides the unfinished ceiling – which doesn’t seem like it will be finished because the AC duct has already been installed - the interior of the restaurant is on the classic side, with olive green, traditional panelled walls behind ruby buttoned couches. The setup of its tables is also pretty basic, but it actually has a cheerful view of a mini garden. If we were to compare it to another restaurant, Akli has the same spirit of everyone’s favourite, Bon Appetit.
Now let’s talk about the food. Our first flight was to Italy with Spicy Arancini Di Manzo (25LE). Starting from the spot-on creamy texture and the scrumptious golden brown crust, to the melted mozzarella cheese and minced beef, which was bursting with Italian herbs flavours, those four fried Italian rice balls were rather tasty.
Our second stop was at our beloved country with Sojouk (42LE). Lying on a bed of chopped parsley in true 90’s style, the grilled sausage was seasoned well, but it was a bit tough and dry. Overall, though, the appetiser seemed incomplete and needed some kind of a sauce or a dip with it.
Moving to the mains, we opted for the Greek Shrimp Saganaki (120LE). Made of perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp in tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese, the dish was a good one, but it wasn’t Saganaki. There was too little cheese to the flavour and the tomato sauce didn’t have any Greek flavours and tasted like Egyptian vegetable stew. One the other hand, the side of lemon rice added a good zesty flavour to the dish.
We also tried Adana Kebab (89LE) from the Turkish side of the menu. Two pieces of kofta laying on Lebanese bread and served with tahini dip and basmati rice topped with nuts, the dish didn’t capture anything particularly Turkish. Although the kofta was seasoned well and the rice was light and fluffy, the dish was overpriced – it’s almost exactly the same as Shawarmaister’s Kofta Halabi Platter which costs 45LE.
We finished our meal with the French Nougat Glace (27LE) for dessert; a rectangular slice of flawless vanilla ice cream filled with mini bits of pistachio and dried fruits. It was served with sour cherry syrup with a very sticky consistency, but the dessert as a whole was light and well executed.
There’s something about what Akli is trying to do that you can’t help but appreciate – but it’s not an easy job to perfect six different cuisines in one kitchen. The ambiance of the restaurant will take you back in time when you used to dine in a sporting club with the family and the food was, overall, good but there’s nothing remarkable about it.