Cairo Restaurants

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2015: Health-Conscious Dining Award Winners
Published On: 27/05/2015

It's not easy promoting healthy eating in a city that historically loves its fatty, sugary foods. The preconceived notions about 'healthy restaurants' don't help either, because many consider healthy food to be, well, not even really food – it's not filling and it's not all that big on flavour. The last few years, however, has seen a host of eateries around Cairo prove that notion wrong – which is no easy task, first and foremost because it's about education and informing as much as it's about serving food. With the Cairo 360 Editor's Choice Awards for Healthy Dining, we honour those paving the way for healthier eating habits. Lychee (Fresh Juices & Smoothies Award) Because fruits are nature's candy. Lychee's store on Brazil Street took Zamalek by storm on its opening, offering healthy, energising and detoxing fruit drinks that are both delicious and guilt-free. It's popularity has lead to several branches in Cairo as well as one on the North Coast. GoodCals (Healthy Dining Award) Between the fresh ingredients in the salads and sandwiches, and the totally guilt-free food, GoodCals has cemented itself as a connoisseur of healthy dining; their food is simple, unfussy and good for what ails you - a perfect office lunch and one of the first to take on the daunting task of convicing Cairo that salads are cool.  Lujo's Fresh Junk (Healthy Dining Award) Who say's healthy food can't be absolutely scrumptious and delicious? Lujo's Fresh Junk offers top-notch, creative gourmet food at very reasonable prices, all the while keeping you from worrying about your waistline. Sattva Steps (Healthy Dining Award) Another Zamalek eatery that took the island by storm, Sattva Steps won't only count the calories for you, but the number of steps you need to burn them too. If you're watching your weight but don't want to compromise the flavour, Sattva Steps has got you covered. The Vegan Kitchen (Healthy Dining Award) A vegan diet is possibly one of the hardest to educate, and convince, diners on, but when you try the food at the Vegan Kitchen, you won't miss the meat or the dairy; the dishes are creative and, more importantly, full of flavour and flair. Seriously, try the tofu steak. For more on the 2015 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, click here.

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The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2015: Asian Cuisine Award Winners
Published On: 26/05/2015

Colourful, diverse and occasionally spicy, Asian cuisine in Cairo continues to flourish. No longer are we limited to just Chinese food and sushi, either; recent years have seen the introduction of Korean and Thai cuisines, and Japanese cuisine has being further explored. As the biggest and most populated continent, it's only natural that the cultural diversity of Asia should produce such eclectic cuisines. And, while we love the flavour palette of the Far East, it's not an easy cuisine to master and not all Asian restaurants have been able to perfect the small things that really count in making a perfect dish – but then some have. Here are the Asian Cuisine category winners for the Cairo 360 Editor's Choice Awards 2015. 8 For the perfectionists and purists; if you're looking for truly authentic Cantonese cuisine, you won't find it any better than 8. Not only does the Four Seasons Nile Plaza restaurant serve outstanding food, but it also boasts a stunning Nile view and a quality of service unbeknown to Cairo. Asia Bar So few of the restaurants on Cairo's many Nile-side boats live up to the expectations, but no such problem has befell Asia Bar in Zamalek, thanks to its diverse menu and the allure of casual and fun experience, be it for dinner or drinks – or both, of course. Birdcage While more and more Thai food emerges across Cairo's dining scene, InterContinental Semiramis' most popular and famed restaurant, Birdcage, is a cut above the rest, managing to combine the joy that only Thai food can give you, with a chic and relaxed ambiance. Bob Sushi It's tough to compete with the big boys, but Bob Sushi has made a remarkable effort to distinguish itself from the herd while offering classics as well as westernised favourites. With two branches – in Dokki and Heliopolis – it may not be the biggest name in the city, but the food can't be faulted. Mirai Wedged in-between Left Bank and Sequoia in Zamalek, Mirai offers a diverse range of sophisticated Asian cuisine in a laidback atmosphere by the Nile. Like its sister venues on either side, the restaurant has become somewhat of a hotspot since its opening and hasn't looked back. Mori Sushi Probably one of the most recognised names on Cairo's restaurant scene, Mori Sushi needs no introduction to Cairenes. The sushi chain's ability to consistently dish out delicious food in classy modern-Asian settings with great service guarantees them a spot on this list. Saigon Restaurant & Lounge Fairmont Nile City's Saigon Restaurant & Lounge may be most frequented for its nightlife events, but one trip there for lunch or dinner will reveal that you've been missing out on a remarkable Asian fusion menu full of robust flavours – high-end dining at its finest. Shogun With an endlessly entertaining Teppanyaki station, as well as combinations of authentic and westernised sushi rolls, InterContinental Citystars' Shogun is one of the lesser talked about restaurants on the winners list, but has consistently shown itself to be more than worthy of Asian-lovers' attention. ZENTRO A winner for the second year in a row, Maadi's Zentro offers sushi, Thai food and Chinese food amongst other Eastern delights,in a moder, chic setting. Seriously, Maadi gets all the good restaurants. For more on the 2015 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, click here.

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The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2015: American Dining Award Winners
Published On: 26/05/2015

A deceptively simple, yet complex cuisine, American dining is all about the satisfaction. Sure, it may leave you with a sense of guily but that's because it's all about 'big'; big portions, big flavours and just plain big everything. While elements of this cuisine are regularly mistreated in kitchens throughout Egypt in the form of subpar, flavourless burgers, soggy fries and uncreative Tex-Mex appetisers, there are a few restaurants in Cairo that have managed to rise above the rest by staying true to the cuisine and dishing out food that is every bit as delicious as it is gluttonous. Here are the winners of the 2015 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards in the category of American dining - affix bib now and prepare to drool. Blackstone Bistro Offering a creative and consistent menu with a generally comfortable atmosphere, Black Stone Bistro has developed a following between the two branches in Zamalek and Maadi, thanks to its burgers and its rich breakfast options. With staff so friendly and attentive that you just want to take them home, it's consistency that has led to Blackstone's success. Burgerque The youngest winner in the American dining category, Burgerque promised much in the run-up to its opening in Maadi and delivered with aplomb. It has continued to do so with its quirky burger variations and toppings and it also holds the distinction of offering a much more relaxed and languid dining experience – this is not fast-food in any sense of the term. Butcher's Burger Since its innocuous launch in Agouza, Butcher's Burger very quickly made a name for itself with new branches in Zamalek and Sheikh Zayed. Dishing out massive patties with top notch ingredients, Butcher's Burger's has proved to be one of, if not the, best restaurants in its rather crowded and saturated market. Gourmet Burger Cairo Opened in 2012, Gourmet Burger Cairo was on the ground floor of the burger trend and separated itself from the pack by offering veal, duck and other quirky burgers. Increased competition has tried to knock GBC off of its plinth of glory, but the quality of their burgers has held them in good stead – even their veggie burger is excellent! Lord of the Wings Wings are the ultimate appetiser, but, unfortunately, they are also the worst executed appetiser in all of Cairo. Lord of the Wings hasn't been in Cairo all that long, but the chain lives up to its name and is one of few restaurants that actually get the balance right between crunchy chicken and delicious sauce. Lucille's A staple of Maadi and Road 9, Lucille's is a pillar of dining and time-wasting in the leafy suburb.  Almost legendary in status thanks to its awesome burgers and even more awesome breakfasts, Lucille's and has been confusing people about what chicken fried steak is for years and we're npt the only ones hoping it continues to do so for many more years to come. Mince Mince's rapid success came as a result of a no-nonsense approach to making burgers and a continuously evolving menu that is now on offer at Heliopolis and Sheikh Zayed, as well as the original branch in Zamalek. One of the first to kick off the Gourmet Burger craze, Mince's popularity is still very much on the high. For more on the 2015 Cairo 260 Editors' Choice Awards, click here.

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Santorini: A Small Greek Island in Americana Plaza
Published On: 25/05/2015

Few things in life can compare to a fully immersive meal that transports you to the homeland of its cuisine. This is what happened to us at Americana Plaza's Greek restaurant, Santorini. Located next to flower shop, Khadra, the restaurant's decor resembles the same shades of white and blue you would find on the island of Santorini, one of the most beautiful and well known Greek islands. The indoor area is mainly occupied by the kitchen while the outdoor area is occupied by colourful chairs. Most of the items on the menu were new to us, which left us with a sense of excitement and a curiosity to try it all. Impressively, the chef at Santorini, Myrsini Lambraki, is the author of twenty-four cooking books published over the last 15 years, and is also cooking show presenter on Greek television. After scanning the menu, we opted for a Youvarlakia soup (24LE) and a Patatosalata (25LE) for our starters, and for our mains, Moussaka (58LE) and a Solomo (125LE). First, we were served a fresh bread basket accompanied by olive paste, olive oil and feta cheese. The bread smelt incredible, and all together the starters tasted magnificent. Next, the Youvarlakia soup was served. Consisting of beef and rice meatballs in a zesty broth, we can't deny we've never had meatballs in a soup before, but the amalgamation of flavours was just perfect, and the portion was quite decent. Shortly afterwards came the Patatosalata, made with diced potatoes, spring onions, olive oil, lemons and capers. Despite the simplicity of the ingredients, the freshness and strong flavours of each element came together wonderfully. The Solomo, or a Salmon Steak, was served with rice with spinach and beetroot and topped with a lemon-dill sauce; the salmon was cooked well and had just the right colour and flavour - more testemant to the old adage that less is more. Again, the ingredients were simple, but everything was cooked perfectly and tasted fresh. We didn't think things could get better, but the true star of the night was the Moussaka. Made with slices of eggplant, zucchini and potatoes topped with a minced beef and tomato sauce, béchamel sauce and parmesan cheese, once again, everything came together perfectly and fans of the Egyptian version of moussaka will be more than pleased. After essentially demolishing our food, we found a little space for dessert and opted for a Glyko Boukies (28LE) and a funky blue drink called a Blue Shore (23LE). The Glyko Boukies is similar to a Profiterole except without being covered in chocolate; it's also considerably lighter but with all the flavour and sense gluttony as its peer. The Blue Shore, an orange peel extract, was refreshing, but the ratio of juice to ice was off. After waddling out of Santorini, we were left with one question: why aren't there more Greek restaurants in Cairo?

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Shakespeare and Co: Extravagant Victorian-Styled Restaurant Disappoints in Sheikh Zayed's Capital Business Park
Published On: 19/05/2015

Many has waxed lyrical about Shakespeare and Co. in Dubai and when news broke that it was to open in Egypt, those same people waited with bated breath – such excitement at the prospect of a restaurant even had us wondering what all the fuss was. As the first venue to open in Sheikh Zayed's Capital Business Park, the restaurant boasts a spacey indoor area, offering smoking and non-smoking sections, and a large cluster of tables and chairs for outdoor seating, as well as a kids' corner. As for the décor, well your eyes won't get bored anytime soon. Sporting a classic Victorian look with the modern lick here and there, the design is a feast for the eyes, with looks like an endless amount of lighting fixtures and chandeliers brightening up the many different furnishings – it's a pleasing mishmash of materials, patterns, colours and shape, though the wood-panelled ceilings is particularly novel, featuring frames and paintings of old European royalty. Now onto the meaty stuff – firstly, the service was spot on, though the restaurant, at the time of our visit, wasn't exactly busy; only one other group was present. Not unlike the décor, Shakespeare and Co's menu is busy and detailed, with a special Lebanese section on offer. Of the many appetizers, we settled on crispy calamari (39LE), while for mains, we went for a classic Cordon Bleu (80LE) and a beef tenderloin steak (130LE). After taking our order, our water arrived promptly with a big bread basket with four different types of bread, all of which were noticeably fresh, and delicious herb and garlic butter – a perfect opening to the meal. Our appetiser, crispy calamari (39LE), arrived soon after with lemon segments and tartar sauce. The calamari itself was under-seasoned and slightly overcooked, giving a slight pull to the bite. But with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a dash of lemon and dip into the tartar sauce, the different elements came together perfectly to make the dish the highlight of the meal. The mains didn't fare as well. Firstly, main dish portions are comparatively small. A beef tenderloin steak (130LE) was ordered it well done, but it came well, well, well done and had an overly charred flavour to it. The dish came with a side of potato gratin which was under-seasoned to the point of being flat in, and largely devoid of, flavour. Peculiarly, the dish also came with a garnish of wasabi – not wasabi garlic sauce, but just wasabi. We were compelled to order the Cordon Bleu (80LE) after seeing it – and staring at it for a good ten minutes – on the Shakespeare and Co's Facebook page. What we saw in that photo and what arrived at our table were to very different things, however. Firstly, what was meant to be a side of sautéed vegetables transpired to be one stick of broccoli, one stick of asparagus and a splattering of diced courgette – that was it. The dish also comes with a side of potato cubes and bacon bits that disappointed, too; the potato cubes lacked a desperately needed outer crunch and didn't stand up to the flavour of the beef bacon. The main element of the dish, the chicken, was even more disappointing; the first cut into the chicken produced a river of oil and one slice of mushroom inside – no cheese as is customary – while the breaded exterior lacked crunch. To wash it all down, we tried Shakespeare and Co's pink lemonade (25LE) which is made at the restaurant by adding pomegranate juice and rose water –  it was a resounding success, though a little heavy-handed with the rose water. For dessert, meanwhile, we went for a French classic – profiteroles (40LE).  Served as three large pieces, each with ice cream sandwiched between each two halves and drizzled with chocolate sauce, tasted noticeably un-fresh, particularly the choux dough. And so for all the hype and reputation that carried Shakespeare and Co to Cairo at the end of last year, a string of missteps throughout our meal left us disappointed and feeling that the extravagance of the décor and design was hollow.

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Chili's: Popular American Diner's New 'Chef's Cut' Menu
Published On: 13/05/2015

We always get excited when a restaurant in Cairo announces the launch of a new menu – don't judge. When that particular menu is all about steaks, then yeah, we're sold. Chili's recently introduced the 'Chef's Cut' menu, and though the quality of steak at the restaurant chain has always been up for debate, wild horses couldn't keep this steak-lover away. A pleasant waiter opened the door and greeted us as we stepped into the Bandar Mall branch; we sat outside to enjoy the final traces of spring weather and avoid the annoying American diner pop music playlist. After browsing the menu, we opted for Boneless Buffalo Wings (59.99LE), and from the Chef's Cut menu, we opted for a medium-cooked South West Short Rib Fillet (124.99LE) and a medium cooked Glazed Shrimp Fillet (149.99LE). Additionally, we opted for an Apple Berry Cobbler (39.99LE) for dessert. We were surprised by how quickly our appetisers were served; a generous portion of boneless wings drenched in spicy buffalo sauce and complemented by a heavy-on-the-blue-cheese ranch dip. Falvour-wise, the chicken was flavourful, but, unfortunately, just a tad too soggy causing it to lose the crunch it would normally have. The steaks were the true highlight of our meal. The South West Short Rib Fillet consists of a fillet resting on a bed of corn salsa, topped with short rib meat and pickled onions, spinach queso and fresh cilantro. The meat was medium-cooked as requested and the combination of fillet and short rib meat was just beautifully sinful. The spinach queso was a fine addition, but quite heavy, while the side of skillet mashed potatoes was surprisingly flavourful. The Glazed Shrimp Fillet consisted of a fillet on corn salsa, topped with glazed shrimp, spinach queso and fresh cilantro, and a side of skillet macaroni and cheese. The fillet was similarly cooked medium as requested. While a little less colourful in the flavour department than its counterpart, this was still a thoroughly enjoyable main course. The shrimp were delicious, but unfortunately, the macaroni and cheese involved way too much cream and far too little cheese leaving it closer to Alfredo sauce. The Apple Berry Cobbler, made with baked apples and fresh blackberries topped with cinnamon-nut crumble, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sweet caramel sauce. The mixture of flavours was very interesting, as was the increased sweetness from the berries. Chili's also serves an excellent vanilla ice cream, which really brought together the concoction and nicely rounded off the meal. Frankly, our biggest piece of advice with Chili's, especially this particular branch, is to avoid the weekends, the holidays and generally any sort of occasion that will involve family outings. They don't seem to handle the pressure very well and it's reflected in the food.

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(M)EAT: Six Superb Steak Spots in Cairo
Published On: 11/05/2015

Finding a good steak dinner around Cairo can be a bit daunting. To many, it's just a grilled piece of meat, but to others, including yours truly, it's so much more. And for some, the idea of seeing red and not brown on the inside is somehow repulsive, so it's safe to say that, as a population, we don't really 'get' steak. Expensive doesn't necessarily guarantee quality, unfortunately, as we've seen time and time again around Cairo. What matters more is scrutinising attention to detail, something we seem to distinctly lack here. You see, when you do 'get' it, you come to realise that the perfect streak dinner is a matter of science when it comes to finding the balance between cooking the steak to your liking, executing the sauce of choice correctly and then bringing it home with impeccable sides. We can't control how well restaurants execute all this, but we can point you in the right direction – because life is hard enough without the crushing disappointed of an overcooked steak. JW's Steakhouse Easily one of the best purveyors of steak in Cairo, there's a reason that there are JW Steakhouse branches across the world. But being born of the JW Marriott brand, prices are extremely steep and will burn a hole the size of a beef medallion – that's an approximate guess – in your pocket. But if you're pockets are made of sturdier materials – we might have we gone too far with this pocket analogy, but it's too late to turn back – then the food is most definitely worth it and is held to the highest standards. It's not often that sides will impress as much as the steak, but JW Steakhouse's asparagus and spinach gratin are also quite exceptional, and the desserts are quite delicious too. One Oak One of the less known restaurants in this marvellous collection, Sheikh Zayed's One Oak is worth the trek out to the middle of the desert – it might as well be a different country altogether. Boasting probably the biggest selection of cuts, both local and imported, One Oak has an immensely large menu that focuses on meats – and sushi, too, but that's a topic for another day. What's great here is that you can customise every aspect of your steak and the steaks arrive labelled with a mini flag stating how well its cooked and what sauce is with it – it's the little things in life, you know? PS, their 600g fillet is a must try. Blackstone Bistro Relatively less expensive than others counterparts on this list, but still able to deliver a mean steak, Blackstone Bistro is a casual classic whose menu always seems like an ongoing project. Though items disappear at a whim off of the menu, what this has resulted in is a constant tweaking that ensures the restaurant knows how to treat a piece of meat to your liking. It also offers a cosy atmosphere and we can't talk about Blackstone without mentioning its fantastic bread basket  and tasty, crunchy wedges – all apt precursors for the main event: steak. The Tap Recently joining the ranks of nightlife venues is almost kind-of, is-but-doesn't-want-to-admit-it gastro pub, the Tap. Many have lauded its arrival, including us, for putting some zest back into Maadi's one-note nightlife scene, but it deserves as much praise for its carnivorous approach to food. While on most nights it's insufferably crowded, when you can get a seat and a chance to try the food, you will not be disappointed and will feel something akin to gluttonous medieval king. Serving both tenderloin and rib eye steaks, both can and will win you over. Keep in mind that the earlier you go to The Tap, the better. Charwood's No round-up of steak-hunting in Cairo would be complete without Charwood's. Having become a point of pilgrimage for the city's steak lovers in Mohandiseen, the chain now exists only in Sheikh Zayed – though popular concensus suggests that it doesn't quite hit the mark like the original branch. Regardless, Charwood's takes an unpretentious approach to dining, offering a hearty selection at prices that would be considered reasonable in comparison to its peers, all in an intangibly warm and cosy atmosphere.   Oak Grill Conrad Cairo's phenomenal award-winning restaurant is quite something and, as part of a new push to bring the hotel back to the forefront, has hosted guest culinary masterminds in the last few months, including Michelin Star chef, Julien Verrat. As one would expect with a hotel restaurant, prices are pretty steep, but this is the kind of place where dining is more than just eating – dining is living. Dramatic words, yes, but we'd challenge you not to giggle with glee as one of the incredibly attentive staff members opens a case revealing custom-made, one-of-a-kind steak knives for you to choose from.  We get goosebumps every time. Happy eating, fellow steak lovers – the struggle for us is real, but not impossible.

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Maison Thomas: Maadi Branch of Classic Cairo Pizzeria Leaves Much to be Desired
Published On: 07/05/2015

The notion of a proper, authentic, untainted pizza has only recently clicked ion the Cairo dining scene. The concept of thin crust and emphasis on the tomato sauce not the cheese was practically unfathomable, considering how far down the localising-line pizza has gone. Before the new contenders joined the market, though, there was just one well known pizzeria if you wanted a real pizza; Maison Thomas. While no one disagrees that Maison Thomas' glory days are well behind them, the question remains as to why? Well, we could start by the fact that they've been unable to keep up with the times; for instance, the restaurant chain still no social media presence or any form of reach to a new generation of customers. This, of course, comes second to the food quality and steep prices. Whatever the case, we figured we would go see for ourselves at their Maadi branch. Located on the second floor just by Metro Market, the interior boast that same old black and beige colour scheme. The décor seems like it stuck somewhere between an artisan café and a dingy bar. It only recently came to our attention that Maison Thomas serve more than just pizza. So after browsing the menu, we opted for a Cheese Burger (45LE), a Milanesa (69LE) main course and a Bolognese Pizza (79LE). Serving time was relatively quick, but the waiters weren't the most friendly or helpful. The Cheese Burger, a 150g ground rump steak patty topped with melted gouda cheese, was decent, but definitely didn't wow us. The Milanesa, fried veal escalope with a side of french fries, was similarly average. The meat tasted good, but the fried outer layer was soggy and took away from the experience. The fries were, unfortunately, rather oily. The Bolognese Pizza fared better than everything else. While the pizza was adequately covered in mozzarella cheese, oregano and tomatoes, with a decent layer of minced meat underneath, what really disappointed us was how scarce the tomato sauce was. The problem with Maison Thomas seems to be small mistakes that take away from what would've otherwise been a great dish. In the case of the main course, the frying process leaves much to be desires, while in the case of the pizza - well, how can you be scarce with the tomato sauce? It's the most important ingredient.

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Tempo: Allegria’s Classy Lounge and Restaurant Still Hold Its Own
Published On: 04/05/2015

With the scorching hot summer weather lurking just around the corner, what better way is there for one to bid farewell to spring's refreshing breeze than by lounging around in the late afternoon whilst grabbing a light lunch? This is exactly what we intended on doing when we hit up 6th of October's well-loved spot, Tempo. Overlooking an impressively spacious golf course, Tempo manages to emit a homey feel due to its laid back outdoor tables and cosy indoor seating area, which is complemented with bookshelves, a TV set and comfy couches and cushions. We escorted ourselves to a vacant outdoor table, and were soon greeted by a friendly waiter already holding up some menus. A couple of minutes later, a complimentary bread basket boasting fresh, crunchy crackers, and a spicy cheese dip made their way to our table. Tempo's menu is rather concise and to the point covering a few basic dishes like pizzas, pastas, a couple of seafood options, steak and a couple of chicken dishes. On the weekends, Tempo extends its menu to offer sandwiches, salads, soups and a handful of appetizers including Shrimp Cocktail (55LE) and Vegetable Spring Rolls (32LE). Settling on Creamy Chicken Fettucine Pasta (55LE) and the Allegria Burger (56LE) for our main courses, we awaited their arrival with rumbling stomachs. Twenty minutes later, the dishes were laid before us. The creamy sauce of the Pasta was quite dense, and a tad lacking in seasoning, but the abundance of chicken chunks did balance that out. The Burger, on the other hand, which came with a side of a handful of French fries, was adequate but not exactly mind-blowing, featuring a basic oomph-lacking but well-cooked mushroom-topped beef patty. Not feeling quite full from our main dishes, we decided to peek at the dessert menu, and surely enough, we opted for a Tiramisu (25 LE) and a Chocolate Tart (25 LE). Taking another twenty minutes to serve, what both desserts lacked in size, they made up for in scrumptiousness. The Tiramisu, made up of layers of coffee soaked lady fingers and cream cheese, was light yet decadent, whilst the chocolate tart, which was more accurately a chocolate fondant, featured a hot molten dark chocolate filled cake accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream- our sweet tooth alter ego was, needless to say, definitely satisfied. On an ending note, we loved the overall ambiance Tempo ever so gracefully carried with its unpretentious simplicity. The food was, admittedly, not the most creative in town, but it was, at the end of the day, free from any tremendous culinary faux-pas. Finally, the service, as well as the view was top notch.  

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Sophia’s Garden: New Restaurant & Café Dazzles in Cairo Festival City Mall
Published On: 03/05/2015

When it comes to Cairo's eateries, all the tricks and trends seem to have been tried and tested; so much so that it has become harder and harder for Cairene foodies to be truly impressed by any of the venues that keep popping up. Sophia's Garden, at first glance, struck us by its sheer simplicity. Looking quite limited in size and all sorts of cosy, the restaurant-café hybrid emits optimistically positive vibes due to its colour scheme comprising of shades of white. A waiter welcomed us in, offering us an outdoor table, as requested. Our menus were placed on the immaculate table and that is the exact moment we knew we were in for an unexpectedly dazzling experience. The menu does not focus on a certain cuisine, but rather gourmet-fied dishes from all sorts of cuisines, including the French, Egyptian, and Italian to name a few. Perhaps the dishes that struck as the most unique were the Camembert Salad (65LE) which involved so many toppings and protein variations that it seemed more like a full-on main course, the Foie-gras Burger (90LE), featuring mushrooms, foie-gras and truffle oil, the Seabass Casserole (118 LE) and finally Sophia's Pigeons (195LE), which takes the signature Egyptian dish and adds some foie-gras stuffing to it. Opting for the Chorizo sandwich (48LE), the Beef Burger (65LE) and the Chicken Papillote (65LE), we were informed that our order will take at least 30 minutes to arrive. Wanting a taste of the venue's signature drink, we also opted for a round of Lavender Lemonades (25LE), which arrived within 5 minutes. A purple concoction of sorts, featuring shredded coconut, sliced lemons and freshly picked lavender, the Lavender Lemonade struck us as perhaps the most delicious lemonade we've tasted in quite a while, with the coconut contrasting the sourness of the lemonade and the tinge of the lavender elevating its overall taste. Our main dishes made their way to our table in thirty minutes as advertised. The Chicken Papillote, which came with our requested side of creamy mashed potatoes instead of rice, comprised of half a chicken roasted with mixed vegetables in papillote wrapping and tasted almost homemade, yet lacked seasoning. The Chorizo sandwich, however, was equal parts messy and finger-licking delicious, consisting of a toasted loaf of parker bread filled with paprika-spiced veal sausages, beef bacon and mustard, whereas the Beef Burger featured a juicy, well-done beef patty topped with pecorino cheese, beef bacon, fried onions and roasted tomato sauce. Both of them came with a side of hand-cut fries, which were impressively non-oily. The dessert menu, featuring items like the Caramel Burger (50LE) and the Hot Chocolate Peanut (50LE), made us curse at our stomachs for being too stuffed from the main courses. All in all, Sophia's Garden was quite the delight, with its intriguing menu, and gourmet dishes. The service, perhaps, wasn't quite its strongest point due to the waiters appearing a tad lost when it came to explaining some of the more exotic dishes. You'll definitely, however, catch us heading back there to try out some of the desserts.

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The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2015: Italian Cuisine Award Winners

Possibly the most misrepresented and hard-done-by cuisine of them all in Egypt, Italian food is among the most preferred by many around Cairo – because who doesn't like the comfort of a big bowl of pasta or the intangible joy of pizza? Yet it remains the single most localised and appropriated cui