Carlo’s Restaurant: International Menu Done Right in Heliopolis
The location of Carlo’s Heliopolis is unique; it is situated in an enclosed building that has several other restaurants, yet, it has the lion’s share of the garden area. As we sat, we noticed how beautiful the setting is; wooden floors, palm trees, a small angelic fountain, and an-overall breezy atmosphere away from the city buzz. The staff handed us the menus, and as we browsed through the selections, we noticed that the appetiser selection is vast. Carlo’s also serve alcoholic beverages; however, we thought we’d stick to trying various starters. We focused on diverse cuisines and palates, because if you’re going there for drinks, one would probably opt for small dishes to share rather than order main dishes.
We started with the sushi section; we got four pieces of the Crispy Roll (90LE) – Shrimp tempura and avocado, topped with teriyaki sauce. The sushi was beautifully presented and equally tasty; the ingredients were fresh, and the rice was perfect. We then turned our focus to some cold mezzehs; we got the Hummus (60LE) and the Muhammara (80LE). Both of those spreads were amazing; creamy, spicy, and properly seasoned – particularly with the steaming-hot bread buns that came with them. At the same time, the Apple Herring Salad caught our eye (120LE) – herring, onions, green apples, and a zesty mayo dressing. This was an intriguing yet delicious mix of flavours; the saltiness of the fish with the sweet crunch of the apples, marrying beautifully with the onions and the mayo – a creative up-scale twist to a Ringa salad for sure.
It was time for the hot dishes now, so we took a bit of time to decide because there are so many tempting options. Finally, we settled on the Mombar (95LE) – sheep intestines stuffed with a rice mixture and deep-fried in oil. If you want to see how one could elevate a Mombar dish, then Carlo’s is the place to be; it was shaped into aesthetically-pleasing small balls with a red sauce on the side. The rice was perfectly spiced, while the sauce gave it a winning edge. Deciding to try another type of Egyptian street food, we found ourselves ordering the Pastrami with Cheese Hawawshi (95LE) – It is usually pita bread stuffed with minced meat and spiced with onions, but this one had cheese and pastrami! This dish was also extremely flavourful and filling; the portion was sizable, and the mix just made sense – spicy and hot with a side of crunchy French fries.
For the last bit of our taste buds experiment, we decided to go all out and order the Fried Veal Brain (170LE) – this type of dish is not for the faint-hearted, it’s fried brains – so needless to say, if you get repulsed easily, we do not recommend it. It’s a very local dish, and you wouldn’t usually find it in an up-scale restaurant, that’s why we ordered it. The fried brain pieces had a great golden brown colour; it lacked seasoning, so we added salt, pepper and lemon juice, and then put in bread – it tasted amazing. We wanted to get the Batata Harra, which was not on the menu, but the staff were nice enough to make it for us. The Batata Harra (75LE) – Potatoes, red peppers, coriander, chilli, and garlic which are all fried together in olive oil. This Lebanese dish came flawlessly seasoned and cooked; crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside – just excellent.
Our visit was more than an outstanding one; everything (apart from Fried Veal Brain) was perfectly seasoned and flawlessly cooked. It takes someone who really understands food to know how to serve all the different dishes faultlessly, which is the case here. Hats off to the kitchen staff and the waiters alike – a perfect example of the art of cookery and hospitality.