Osmanly: Forgettable Fetar at the Kempinski Nile Hotel Cairo
Three weeks into Ramadan, we’ve had more
than enough of our home-made fetars, so this reviewer decided to sample the
fetar buffet at Osmanly, the Turkish restaurant at the Nile Kempinski in Garden
City. This restaurant offers tasty
Turkish cuisine and excellent service, so we felt that we couldn’t go wrong.
For a whopping 255LE++ per person, Osmanly
offers a buffet meal including six types of Ramadan juices, six cold
mezza dishes that are on the table when you arrive, and soups and main courses
that change according to the day of the week.
As our visit was on a Thursday, we were
served lentil soup, which was creamy and subtly pungent; the perfect start to
the meal. Combined with the tasty sesame bread, we would have been happy to
stick to the soup for the rest of the fetar, but at 255LE++, you want to eat
for what you’ve paid.
Our mezza dips included eggplant salad, a
dip of minced eggplant in a tasty red sauce, mint yogurt and spicy tomato
mezza. The eggplant salad was the best choice, as it wasn’t too spicy and
refreshed our palates before we dug into the main course buffet.
buffet included grilled potatoes,
sambousak, Hunkar’s favourite, bulgur pilav, lamb tandir, prawns tagine
and seabass banye (grilled seabass). We sampled a baked béchamel
dish with peas, carrots and cheese, which was admittedly tasty, but no
different from the home-made version. The bulgur pilav consists of
in a tomato sauce, which was a little too spicy for our liking. The lamb tandir – and in fact, every other
meat that we sampled- was too dry and had lost its natural flavour, a victim of
the fetar buffet syndrome, where food is probably prepared well in advance and
heated for too long.
The highlight of the meal was Hunkar’s
favourite. Arriving in a hot, sample-sized bowl, Hunkar’s favourite consists of
a piece of meat in tomato sauce surrounded by creamy béchamel.
dessert station contained every type of
oriental sweet that you’d expect (baa’lawa, rice pudding, etc.) as well
plate of freshly cut fruit. We were served a plate of warm konafa, which
surprisingly light and not as sweet as we’d like it to be. The om ali
was creamy with subtle spices that gave it a nice twist to its
Aside from the fact that we had to request
our order of tea with mint three times until it arrived, we found the service
to be polite and friendly, though distracted. A live oriental band played in
the far corner, which added a pleasant touch to our meal and an entertainment
tax to our bill.
Perhaps it was our high expectations that
led us to have such an anti-climax of a meal, or perhaps it was that everything we ate tasted bland and overcooked. Even our dinner
companion, who is a regular at the restaurant, was disappointed at the flavourless
and easily forgettable food.
So forgettable was it, that by the time we
finished our meal, we couldn’t remember what we’d just eaten. Like many other
restaurants this Ramadan, we believe that Osmanly fares much better when it
avoids the Ramadan buffet and sticks to its signature à-la-carte menu.