Tanoura: Contemporary Lebanese Restaurant & Café in Heliopolis
Lebanese restaurants in Cairo are common, to say the least, but few truly elevate the cuisine. Located on El Thawra Street in Heliopolis, Tanoura struck us as being both aesthetically interesting and colourful, drawing us in with bright oranges, Mediterranean yellows and reds. The ground floor is only partially covered, creating an outside-in feel, complete with flower beds and a central palm tree. Continuing its cheerful theme indoors, the restaurant spreads over two more floors.
Named after a Lebanese dance, it seemed only appropriate that Oriental music served as the backdrop to our dining experience, whilst antique, reclaimed shisha pipes are used as light fixtures and are incorporated into the interesting screen designs.
We were promptly shown to our seats before the waiter discreetly told us that the minimum charge is 75LE; a minimum easy to surpass with their wide selection of tempting Lebanese dishes. All the typical hot and cold appetisers are available, along with salads, arayes, mana’eesh, fattah and grills. If Lebanese doesn’t take your fancy, there’s also a selection of soups and pastas to choose from.
Tanoura also offer a good variation of drinks; we ordered a lemon juice (18LE) and a watermelon smoothie (25LE), both which arrived swiftly. The lemon juice was a refreshing bitter-sweet concoction whilst the watermelon – now in season – was a deliciously fresh, icy slushy.
We requested one chicken fattah (45LE), an onion soup (20LE), hommos (20LE) and cheese sambousak (24LE). We didn’t have to wait long, and in true Lebanese style, everything was served together. A basket of cold, soft baladi bread was delivered as an accompaniment to the creamy, well-seasoned hommos. The cheese sambousak resembled four, generously sized spring rolls, deep fried to a golden brown. Unfortunately – due to the bed of lettuce they were presented on – the underside turned soggy fairly quickly. The onion soup was rich and flavourful, complete with a considerable amount of onion pieces swimming in it. Of all the dishes, however, our chicken fattah exceeded expectations; it was a creamy mixture of large, quality chicken chunks amongst crispy bread and soft white rice. The portion was so large that we struggled to finish it along with our starters.
Rather than choosing one of their Oriental desserts, we chose to wash our meal down with an apple shisha (18LE) which was as expected; fruity, flavourful and smooth.
The colourful décor, chilled-out atmosphere and contemporary setting of Tanoura modernises traditional Lebanese recipes, and is proving to be a popular place for both young and more mature clientele.