Al Dabké: Classic Oriental Fetar at Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers
The less time it takes to order fetar, the better; hence why we love the concept of set menus. We headed to the Fairmont Heliopolis & Tower’s Lebanese restaurant, Al Dabké, in order to try out their fetar offerings. We were directed through to the back of the gigantic lobby and seated in a very warm and welcoming manner, but felt a little let down by their lack of colourful Ramadan decorations.
When booking, we requested their only option of a set menu (270LE++), but were not given a description or an option of the food available, leaving us to guess what awaited us.
With ten minutes to go, food was already appearing on the table; a hearty spread included hommos, tehina, baba ghanough, yoghurt, tomato and chilli dip, fattoush salad, foul, liver, kobeba and sambousak. Larger dishes included bowls of tomato and lamb fatta as well as a tomato and lamb stew. Amar el din was awaiting us, on top of which we ordered soft drinks (20LE each) and a large bottle of water (25LE). Later, a mixed shawerma grill was delivered to each diner before an Oriental platter of dessert was served to share.
The dips fared well; the tehina was smooth with just an edge of bitterness, whilst the hommos was creamy and flavourful. Following suit, the baba ghanough was wholesome and perfectly bitter-sweet. The tomato and chilli dip was an interesting addition with a spicy kick that had to be cooled with the fresh, milky yoghurt. Unfortunately, the pile of bread didn’t exhume its usual quality, and was slightly crispy, rather than fresh and fluffy.
The fattoush salad was fresh and crunchy, but was starved of avinaigrette, leaving it both dry and bland. The foul was unblended and drowning in oil and we could tell the liver had been out for a while; although fairly tasty, the edges had begun drying from not being covered. In contrast, the kobeba was well-seasoned and aromatic, whilst the cheese rolls were salty but refreshing.
The lamb in the fatta was incredibly fatty – so much so that we requested a different piece. The generous amount of rice was fluffy, however the bread was hidden and incredibly soggy at the bottom of the plate. Fortunately, the meat in the rich, tomato stew was much more delectable, cooked so that it fell apart in our mouths, and teamed with some soft, marinated okra.
Our mixed grill was standard at best; made up of chunky pieces of lamb, chicken and kofta, all of which were of good quality, they all had a strong taste of char-grill about them. The sides consisted of flat bread and a pile of brown, seasoned rice, served al dente.
The dessert was the best part of the meal; a sugary selection of sweet pastries including some sticky basbousa, scrumptious remoosh el settat (ladies’ eyelashes, literally) and other Oriental sweets, some combined with pistachio nuts. There was also a medium sized platter of fruit complete with grapes, delicious pineapple, ripe, juicy watermelon and under-ripe, hard pieces of cantaloupe and peach.
Over all, Al Dabké offers a varied selection of foods to share, however, the taste and quality is far from being reflected in the price.