Cedars: Refreshing Lebanese Restaurant in Mohandiseen
9am - 2am -
In addition to the smattering of restaurants in Cairo metropolis, Mohandiseen, lies a veritable Cairo shopping heaven, with European high street classics such as Pull and Bear, Bershka and Charles and Keith. Cedars is a Lebanese restaurant on – you guessed it – Lebanon Street that tries to imitate the same kind of casual sophistication of it’s fashionable neighbours.
From the street, Cedars looks homely and welcoming, with hanging yellow lanterns lighting a wooden terrace from which plumes of argileh rise. The décor is sleek and sophisticated as per Lebanese fashions, and inside, the dining area features rustic looking pillars and plant pots. Huge windows overlook the terrace, which surrounds the building, making the area bright and relaxed during the daytime hours. The waiters were friendly and accommodating from the moment we walked in. They tipped us off about sitting outside for a more atmospheric experience where, sat below the artsy ceiling and next to the stone brick building, you could be enjoying dinner looking out over Lebanon’s stretch of the Med.
We were pleased to see that the menu didn’t stray too far from traditional Lebanese dishes, although pizzas were on the menu. True to Levantine style, the appetiser pages were the best stocked, featuring the full array of Lebanese mezza. We had heard good things about the Mafrka mushrooms (32.95LE) and so we ordered that alongside hummus with meat and pine nuts (29.95LE), which we admit we mostly wanted for the stack of Cedars bread which is delivered alongside it. Said bread is divine and can be ordered alone for a mere 6.95LE. Someone in the kitchen seriously knows their way around a mushroom, as they were cooked to perfection, with minced lamb and herbs.
For the main course, we ordered a pastries plate (65.95LE),which was a generous spread of sambousek, safiha and kebbeh, plus a classic molokheya (59.95LE). Other options on the menu included fish and veal dishes, plus the obligatory Lebanese salads, taboulah and fattoush. Cedars is also open in the daytime, so for a lunch time snack, sandwiches are available for 29.95LE, while a side order of fries is 8.95LE. Our pastry plate was a nine-piece platter of delicate pastries, which were fresh and tasty. Meanwhile, the molokheya was not the heap we have become accustomed to, but came neatly displayed with plenty of chicken, rice and sauce. The sauce is what really set this dish apart; it was a rich soupy infusion of all the right herbs and spices, without the sour vinegar taste which can sometimes overwhelm it.
The Cedars cocktail is also a special treat, as it comes with a fruit salad (in reality pieces of apple) atop a thick fruity blend. The argileh was light and fresh, although only the traditional flavours were on offer. For dessert, despite the tempting ice cream cookies (29.95LE), we nervously ordered pumpkin with ice cream (29.95LE) and hoped for the best. To our delight, a gold Faberge-esque egg appeared, which opened to reveal a bulb of vanilla ice cream on a bed of mashed pumpkin and caramel. It tasted rich and creamy, with each element complimenting others in unexpected ways. It turned out to be a last minute front-runner for best part of the meal and made us sorry we ever doubted the Cedar’s chefs.
From the first, Cedars outdid itself, and although it’s a popular venue among locals and foreigners alike, it wasn’t too busy. So we suggest getting down there quick, for a delicious Lebanese experience.