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Le Tarbouche: Oriental Moods & Succulent Flavours at Le Pacha 1901 in Zamalek
There was once a Pacha who dreamed of building a floating castle on the Nile; before he was able to finish it, he passed away - in 1901 to be specific. Around a century later, however, a travelling foreigner bought the castle from his heirs and called it Le Pacha 1901.
Luckily, what was doomed to be an abandoned floating castle, ended up being one of our Cairo's go-to assortment of restaurants.
Looking for an authentic dinner alongside our very exciting history lesson, we paid a visit to Le Tarbouche – previously the Pacha's own bedroom and currently the boat's only restaurant offering both authentic Egyptian and Lebanese cuisines.
With antique chairs, long golden pillars decorated with seashells and a wooden ceiling carved with Islamic architecture patterns, Le Tarbouche has a unique Ottoman atmosphere that encourages an Oriental experience, not to mention a hunger for appetising Middle Eastern starters, of which we ordered Vine Leaves with olive oil (32.90LE) and Kishk-mixture of chicken broth, wheat, yoghurt, topped with caramelized onions-(32.90LE) served with freshly baked bread.
A creamy texture balancing the salty taste of the broth, the smooth rich taste of the yoghurt, topped with just the right amount of perfectly crispy onions, Le Tarbouche's Kishk is the best we've had to date.
While it is mostly served as a hot appetiser in many restaurants in Egypt, we like to eat our vine leaves the Lebanese way – served cold - which is why we loved the cool, sour taste of the vine leaves soaked in olive oil.
After enjoying our appetisers, we were ready for our main courses; we opted for a Mixed Grills Platter (99.90LE) and Veal Fattah (62.90LE).
Comprised of three pieces of Kofta and three other Kebab, and served with French fries, our grills were delightful; with a perfectly light, tender and juicy kofta and perfectly seasoned kebabs, everything was cooked perfectly and we especially liked the distinct flavor of the tomato juice in the kofta.
With a generous amount of meat, our Veal was cooked well-done and served with orzo simmered in the meat's flavorful juice. Like the mixed grill, the veal retained a certain amount of tenderness.
Le Pacha is known to have a perfect selection of international desserts offered in all of its restaurants and, after we finished our dinner, we were ready for dessert; Crème Brule (22.90LE). Simple in theory, many of Cairo's restaurants don't quite get Crème Brule right, though with a luscious caramelised crust and a perfectly creamy texture, it was close to perfect.
Combining both Lebanese and Egyptian flavours, some appetising starters and some tasty main dishes and desserts, our experience at Le Tarbouche was quite satisfying; we highly recommend it for fans of Oriental cuisine and for those looking to have a good value for money.
Open buffets have a bad reputation for focusing on quantity instead of quality, but we all have those days where we just want to head to a big spread of crowd pleasing food. Zitouni, however, ticks both boxes – delicious food and lots of it.
Located inside Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Zitouni is an authentic Egyptian restaurant – with some Lebanese items to boot – that has gathered a reputation over the years for offering the best open buffets in town. As a venue, the interior leans towards a chic Oriental style with its contemporary wooden walls, beautiful patterns on the columns and arches and comfortable seating, all boosted by an astonishing view of the Nile.
We started exploring the buffet by heading to the soup and appetiser zone. Keeping it classic with the soups, they serve Chicken Cream Soup and Lentil Soup with optional toppings on the side like croutons, fried onion, spices and lemon. Meanwhile appetisers were divided into cold and hot mezza alongside a selection of breads and mini mana’esh. From Taboula and Hummus with cumin, to rice-stuffed vine leaves and Baba Ghanough, most of the cold mezza were very good, but we loved the Moussaka the most, thanks to its fantastic garlicky tomato sauce and perfect cuts of eggplant.
As for the hot mezza, we tried the cheese-stuffed spring rolls, beef sambousak and Kobeba. Only the kobeba impressed, though, with its aromatic spices and spot on amount of filling. The sambousak was very tough and chewy, while the spring rolls didn’t have that crunch we all love.
Whether you’re into Macaroni Bechamel, Seafood, Egyptian Fattah or Lamb, the endless variety of mains will cover everyone’s taste. However, the deconstructed/make-your-own Lebanese Fattah station impressed us the most.
Divided into bowls of rice, boiled chicken swimming in soup, chickpeas, crispy bread, pine nuts and exquisite warm garlic sauce, not only did the different elements of Fattah station have remarkable flavours, but it also gave us the chance to mix and match with one of the best examples chicken shawerma we’ve had in a while, and creating Syrian Fattah using the Moussaka from the cold mezza.
Moving to the spinach-stuffed chicken, apart from the chicken being a bit dry, the spinach filling had a good, zesty flavour and the cream sauce complimented it well without overpowering it. We also tried the beef fillet which consists of very tender cuts of beef boosted with peppercorn to add a great spicy kick. The star of the mains would have to be the Seafood Mix, though. A combination of perfectly cooked shrimps, mussels, and flaky, moist fish, all swimming in creamy lemon sauce, the flavours of the seafood mix were well-balanced and showcased the seafood well.
We finished our meal with a visit to Oriental and western desserts buffet. We really enjoyed the konafa with cream, which wasn’t overly sweet as we expected, though there’s a jar of honey on the side for extra sweetness. We also spotted a mouth-watering chocolate cake topped with cranberries; the cake was just a classic chocolate sponge cake, chocolate cream filling and chocolate ganache drips.
With plenty of options, executed with the kind of care you’d expect from a Four Seasons outlet, Zitouni is a great option for a family lunch; the ambiance is relaxing and the variety of food was great – particularly the mains and appetisers. Just remember to save space for dessert.