Yasso: New Lebanese Lounge on Giza Corniche
Dining venues seem to be closing down thick
and fast; victims of the fiscal setback that Egypt is currently suffering.
Tourism may be at a low, but dining entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm is not. Evidence
of such gung-ho venturing can be seen currently at the Trianon Boat on the
Nile Corniche in Giza.
The first of two new venues to open on the
boat is Yasso, which is promoted as a Lebanese lounge. Those familiar with the
spaces on the Trianon boat will notice that little has changed structurally.
Yasso is made up of a large outside deck, as well as a very small covered
indoor area that hosts no more than four medium-sized tables. Seating includes
high bar-chairs and tables, and lower, more comfortable padded couch-like seats.
True to classic 80s lounge ambiance, the colour schemes are built around whites
and the lighting is an appropriate dim.
Several modest flat-screen TVs are scattered around, showing MTV on mute, and the music, though generic lounge and chill-out, is of perfect fit for the atmosphere. Visitors of a good musical ear may recognise more than a few rock and jazz classics reworked for the lounge vibe.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit, there
were only three other small parties in attendance, although in fairness it was
still fairly early on a Wednesday night.
The first distress of the evening came when
we asked for a menu. Upon said request, the completely inoffensive waiter
proclaimed that he was the menu, with a smile from ear to ear.
Starting to feel peckish in the cool Nile
breeze, we asked for the waiter’s recommendation of something both easy on the
stomach and wholesome. A large serving of beef shawerma (50LE) came served in a
redundant bread, and a small bowl of hummus (20LE) was delivered just as our stomachs
collectively rumbled; no doubt brought on by the Black Label whiskey (150LE)
and glass of Grand Marquis red wine (50LE). The hummus was delicious, smooth
and at a perfect chill; especially with the thick, soft bread that it is served
with. It was handy in jazzing up the shawerma a little, which was somewhat dry.
The bar offers a range of both local and imported beers, spirits and wines, with an obvious price disparity between the two. If you’re looking for your drinks to come swiftly, there are several stools perched by the bar, and you are free to roam where you can find space.
Yasso offers a brilliantly weird range of
shishas that are paraded to you on a sort of smelling board. Upon requesting
shisha, you are brought small pots of the different flavoured meassel, which
are all labelled and slotted into the board. The exciting choices included
bubblegum, orange, apricot and coke, but our selection of the kiwi and mulberry
flavours (25LE each plus 5LE for one lay) tasted nothing like their names
promised. From start to finish, the only flavour that we were able to seize
from these overpriced regrets was a blunt sweetness. In saying that, though; it tasted smooth and clean.
Of course, it takes time to establish a
quality of service at any kind of venue in Cairo, but it almost feels like
Yasso could have done with another month or so before opening. Having no menus
because of ‘ongoing changes’ is unacceptable on any level, and any clemency that
one might have had on the staff because of this predicament was crushed by the
slow pace of service.