Al Khal: Flawless Family Fetar at InterContinental Citystars
Omar Ibn El Khattab Street, Inside Intercontinental Cairo City Stars Hotel, Heliopolis
Nothing can compete with a delicious homemade fetar, especially when it comes to Oriental food. But mamasin Egyptian households should look out; there is a fierce competitor on Cairo's restaurant scene serving delicious and authentically homemade food called Al Khal.
Located inside Intercontinental Citystars, Al Khal is an outdoor restaurant designed as a huge pergola with a central family-like dining table below an eye-catching chandelier dividing the whole pergola into four other cosy spaces.
The wooden pergola design brought the summer vibes to our visit, with curtains boasting exquisite prints, and red and blue pillows and fabric in the ceiling making the whole place colourful and complimenting the elegance of the restaurant. We were worried about the hot weather, but the whole place was like a wind catcher.
Al Khal’s ‘Family Style Fetar’ set menu (250LE per person) is very similar to their Saturday brunch (210LE) which consists of soup, salads, appetisers, tajines, main dish, Ramadan drinks and Oriental desserts.
Arriving to our reserved table, we found a huge variety of salads from Besara and Hummus to Yogurt salad and Tahini were already served on our table and as soon as it was time for fetar we received a cup of orzo, beef and spices soup. With a generous amount of well-seasoned beef, the soup was your everyday orzo soup, but a generous amount of chopped parsley took the soup to a whole new level.
Crowding our table with shareable appetisers and tajines which stole our hearts with outstanding flavours, we understood why they call it a 'family fetar'.
Starting with lamb sausage cooked with tomato and onion, the texture of the sausage was flawless and flavours were simple but perfectly executed. The star of the meal would have to be the hawawshi which was bursting with flavours from the spices and was far from oily; we can just call it the oriental burger.
The pasta with béchamel was far from disappointing, with a cheese crust on top, spot-on amount of well-seasoned minced beef and a generous amount of béchamel which is what we all ask our moms to do.
The real test was the potato with kofta tajine and the okra with beef tajine served with rice. The tomato sauce –aka tasbekah— had perfect consistency, everything was cooked to perfection, but the super juicy kofta and the tender beef needed a standing ovation.
Even though we were full from the appetisers and tajines, there was the rice-stuffed chicken and beef fillet. While everything was beautifully presented in their custom made tajine pot with beautiful bricks pattern, the main dish looked sloppy only that didn’t affect the flavours.
The beef fillet was very simple but well-executed in terms of cooking and seasoning. The same goes for the rice stuffed chicken but we felt like it had a bland taste, or maybe because the competition was on fire in the previous dishes.
From Baklava and Atayef with nuts to balah el sham and kunafa with mango bites, everything was tasty and fresh but we felt it was a lazy choice because we were expecting a dessert that matches the great variety we had for fetar, like El Khal’s signature Pumpkin Tajine.
Al Khal succeeded in capturing the family-style fetar experience with outstanding food, a cosy ambiance and the fantastic design – we wanted to steal one of the curtains – and the super friendly staff. Overall, it's been one of our favourite fetar experiences his Ramadan.