Bab El Nil: Cosy Sohour at the Fairmont Nile City
The Fairmount Nile City has done its fair
share for Cairo’s social scene over the past few months. Whether it’s the lush pool available for
day-use, the cool Californian cuisine at Napa Grill, all you can
eat sushi at Alabaster bar, or Wednesday night parties on the Sky Pool terrace;
there’s always a fresh hubbub just around the corner.
Speaking of the Sky Pool terrace, that’s
the spot of Bab El Nil; the Fairmount Nile City’s Ramadan sohour tent. We were
thoroughly impressed with last year’s setup, and would have welcomed more of
the same. Unfortunately, in a seemingly rash move, the good people of Fairmont
have revamped the whole concept.
Seating is divided into two distinctive
setups. The central section is much more comfortable for dining, while the
outer seating areas are made of deep comfortable couches that you could lapse
into a nap inside of if tempted. On one side is a four-piece band playing
traditional Egyptian music, which makes for the perfect background noise. The
dimly lit rooftop area is nicely spaced out, and every area is its own private
As mentioned, this is strictly sohour only;
anyone looking for fetar will have to settle for Napa Grill. Further
disappointment comes in the way of the rather expensive à-la-carte menu. The menu only really shines with its cold and
hot mezza options (16LE to 22LE). All your Egyptian and Middle Eastern classics
are available; baba ghanough, tehina, fatoush, stuffed vine leaves, et al.
Orders of fatoush and baba ghanough (both
16LE) were late, and ended up coming out at the same time as the mains, but it
was an immediately excused lapse given the freshness and deliciousness of both
dishes. The chunky pieces of tomato, cucumber and onions in the fatoush were only
outshone by the pieces of radish; an ingredient that we don’t come across that
often in Cairo. The squares of bread tasted freshly crisped, and the garnishing
of lemon and mint made for an appetising opening to the meal.
The baba ghanough was equally as good, and
will have you reaching for the bread basket more often than you’ll want to
admit to yourself. Sadly, the serving was a little small and it might have you
forcibly scraping bread against the plate to pick up every splodge. It was
smooth and light, and had that great blunt taste.
The starters are relatively cheap in
relation to the venue, but the mains are outrageously priced in comparison.
Only a handful of dishes are offered, and are all priced above 100LE.
The mixed grill (118LE) consisted of shish
tawouk, veal and lamb. The title of mixed grill usually signals a meat feast for
most, but the servings here are small; this is sohour after all. All three meats are perfectly cooked, if a
little under-seasoned, and are served with a small amount of rice that is
edible yet pretty redundant.
The seafood grill is a pretty delightful
treat, with the jumbo prawns being a particular highlight. Like the meat of the
mixed grill though, the dish was under-seasoned.
Drinks are plentiful, with Ramadan
favourites amar el din and tamr hindi (25LE) coming out of the kitchen fresh
and chilled, but a little on the sweet side. It wouldn’t be a sohour without a shisha, which costs 24LE a pop. The
staff members were a little slow tending to problems and queries, but were
courteous and polite.
Your gauging of whether this is a good choice
for sohour very much depends on what you’re looking for. The 130LE minimum
charge sets a pretty comfortable target for those looking to have a
full-blown meal, and those after an evening of shisha, snacks and drinks. The
menu isn’t particularly inventive, but what they do here at Bab El Nil; they do