Ayadina: Incredible Fetar Buffet in Heliopolis
There’s nothing like an open buffet to satisfy the long list of cravings accumulated over the fasting hours. Hidden behind a pretty, turquoise door on Cleopatra Street in Heliopolis, Lebanese restaurant, Ayadina, promises customers a ‘splendid’ fetar experience. From the moment we stepped over the threshold, we knew we were in for a treat; fuchsia and aquamarine hues contrast brilliantly with one another whilst the crisp, white tableware was perfectly laid out in preparation of the feast.
The waiters filled our glasses with a choice of traditional Ramadan juices, of which we’d highly recommend their delicious, fruity and thick amar el din and their tasty, sugary karkade. Throughout the meal we found the service to be impeccable, polite and efficient; traits that are often rare at the busy fetar time.
Their all-inclusive open buffet (195LE) is an impressive spread, placed out of the way at one end of the restaurant, with all the dishes steaming and in place just before the call to prayer. A batch of warm, fluffy baladi bread and crisp toast was placed on our table to save us from carrying it over.
Well-ordered and well-stocked, the buffet curled round the space, beginning with a soup station where chicken and lentil options were served, to a heaving selection of salads and dips, followed by a diverse selection of chicken, lamb and fish main courses. So as not to cause traffic, the dessert buffet was separated but almost of equal size, boasting giant platters of traditional Oriental sweets, as well as colourful, mouth-watering fresh fruit.
We tried one of each soup and can safely say that neither would disappoint; the chicken soup was creamy whilst the lentil soup was light and nicely seasoned. Our hommos and cheese and tomato dips were irresistibly creamy, whilst the fattoush and taboula salads were both fresh and excellently infused with bitter-sweet vinaigrettes. Both the juicy meat and velvety cheese sambousaks were fried to perfection, whilst our vegetarian stew of eggplant and tomato was rich and bursting with flavour.
The chicken fatta was also delicious, swimming – but not drowning in – a generous amount of creamy yoghurt sauce, along with moist white rice and plenty of pieces of bread. The kofta was pleasantly juicy, whilst the chicken shish tawouk was succulent and the breaded fish fell apart in our mouths.
We didn’t hold back for dessert either; the basbousa was syrupy and the Om Ali was one of the best we’ve tasted. The fresh fruit pieces included all the usual suspects, as well as succulent pieces of both watermelon and cantaloupe, which were scrumptious and made for an excellent end to a truly splendid meal.
We didn’t hear one bad utterance throughout the whole meal, other than people wishing they could eat more. Ayadina offers a delicious open buffet with excellent service at a reasonable price, making for a practically flawless fetar.