Tamara Elna: Lebanese Classics with Subtle Twists & Big Flavours
Point 90 Mall - Infront Of AUC Gate 5, New Cairo
Everyone’s favourite Lebanese restaurant, Tamara Lebanese Bistro, has spread its wings and introduced a new, hipper concept called Tamara Elna at Point 90 Mall, and let’s just say, it might be even better than the original.
From the brick walls and the 3D-effect cubic tiles, to the high school cafeteria-like station and the colourful drawings on the walls, Tamara Elna’s interior plays a huge part in forming its unique identity. Each section on the menu – whether it’s for drinks, grills, or mezzah – has its own space in the exposed linear live cooking station which gives the space a busy, positive energy.
The menu itself is pretty much the same as Tamara Lebanese Bistro’s, but with a few new creative additions like Halloumi Quinoa Salad (45LE) and Crab Sticks with Buffalo Sauce (55LE), as well exquisite drinks like Vanilla Passion (35LE).
We kicked things off with Beef Makanek with Lemon Dip (45LE) and Mini Safayeh with Spinach (35LE) – because, well, what’s a Lebanese meal without mezzah? Pomegranate sauce is everyone’s favourite, but the lemon dip that came with the beef makanek was just as good, adding a pleasant tangy, sour flavour and a hint of heat from the chilli pepper, which was all a great match with the perfectly-cooked sausage. As for the mini safayeh, the melt-in-your-mouth dough was filled with a zesty spinach mixture which had a hint of sweetness from the diced red onion.
Before we’d even finish the mezzah, the waiter was ready with our two Elna special mains; the Mixed Kofta Platter (90LE) and Elna Shish Tawook Platter (80LE). The kofta platter consists of four skewers of your choice out of six kinds of kofta, so we opted for one skewer each of Elna Kofta, Kofta Istanbuli, and two skewers of Kofta with khishkhash sauce.
Starting with Elna Kofta, the addition of cheese and mushrooms in the mixture gave it a unique earthy and rich flavour, but the kofta fell apart because the additional chunks of mushroom weren’t mixed in properly. The Kofta Istanbuli, meanwhile, is mixed with crushed pistachio which added an amazing crunch, but it was still the juiciest skewer of them all. On the other hand, the Kofta with khishkhash sauce was seasoned perfectly, but the side serving of khishkhash sauce (made mostly of tomatos and onions) was unremarkable in flavour. The platter was served with simple baked potato topped with a thick layer of melted cheddar cheese.
The other main, the Elna Shish Tawook, was slightly misleading in its description; the menu states that it’s served with ‘white sauce’, but when we asked for more details, we were told that it’s a creamy marinade rather than a sauce. However, the marinade made for a very rich and creamy shish tawook, which also had flawless traditional seasoning – so much so that we didn’t need the side of tomeya (28LE) we ordered to dip the chicken into. The only downside to the dish is that the thyme-seasoned potato wedges that it comes with were cold.
We finished our meal with Konafeh Bel Jibneh (42LE) for dessert. Sprinkled with pistachio, the konafa itself had a great crispy crunch, the cheese was as stretchy as you’d want (#cheesepull) and the amount of rose syrup, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, was spot-on.
It was a perfect ending to an almost-perfect meal. There’s just enough that’s different about Tamara Elna to make it distinct from Tamara Lebanese Bistro – the food was great and full of interesting flavour combinations and the restaurant manages to create the casual, livelier atmosphere it promises. But what impressed us the most, was the supersonic service. We expected nothing less from Mori Co.