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The Edward's: A Restaurant with a Story to Tell at Cairo Festival City
Amidst the many tempting restaurants that Cairo Festival City has to offer, our latest foray to the New Cairo shopping centre sent us to the Edward's; a restaurant that promises eclectic international cuisine and authentic and distinct ambiance.
Decorated with several of the owner's family heirlooms – from his father's typewriter, to his grandfather's gramophone, to his grandmother's coffee grinder – the Edward's has a cosy, retro atmosphere, with vintage sofas, old newspaper-wallpaper and chilling classical music playing in the background. Overall, the large space radiates a relexed feeling through its soft and calming wall colors and floral sofas and chairs, which only goes to give the restaurant more of homely, authentic feel - like it has history, in a way.
Going through the diverse menu which includes soups, appetisers, salads, Asian dishes, sushi, platters and sandwiches, we opted for the BBQ wings (42LE) as an appetiser and the Salmon Pesto (115 L.E) and the Italian Burger (69LE) as entrees.
Presented in a small pot and with disposable gloves, the BBQ wings were well-seasoned, well-fried and enveloped with sesame and all drenched in a BBQ sauce. Unfortunately, though, it didn't come with the spicy yoghurt dip or house buffalo sauce promised by the menu.
Enveloped with freshly baked goodness, the Italian Burger was well cooked, juicy, tender and all covered with delicious, melted Gouda cheese, fused with crispy panko-breaded Gouda cheese and garnished with a tasty and well-spiced marinara sauce for a nice finishing touch. The dish was served alongside crunchy and spiced fries that complemented the plate perfectly.
The roasted salmon, meanwhile, was perfectly seasoned, slowly cooked, delightfully tender to the taste and drizzled with pistachio pesto which was more basil than pistachio. The only downfall to the dish was the mash potatoes which sat beneath the salmon; though it was creamy and thick, it left a stale aftertaste.
Looking over the desserts section, we were stuck between ordering the Pistachio Tart (42LE), the Nutella Pizza (38 LE), 'Foufa' Fondant (38 L.E) – named after an Edward's family member – and the Pain Perdu (34LE), but eventually opted for the latter.
An authentic French dessert, the Pain Perdu – comprised of two large pieces of sweet French toast – was soaked in a silky and rich crème anglaise leaving the bread juicy yet holding its composure perfectly alongside a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, with caramel sauce garnishing the entire ensemble for a an overall rich taste.
Deciding to have a grape-flavoured shisha (48LE), we moved to the outdoor seating area – which was freezing – but we were handed small blankets half an hour later, as were other diners seated outside – a nice touch by the restaurant. The shisha itself was perfectly tended to and lasted long into the rest of the evening.
We ended the toothsome meal with a fresh and perfectly blended lemon mint juice (22LE), drawing the perfect ending for what was a wonderful evening all round.
If there is to be one criticism, it's that service was on the slow side at the time of our visit; but with the quality of the food and generally polite staff, it wasn't too hard to overlook these minor missteps.
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.