Tanoura: Middling Fetar Buffet in Heliopolis
The Lebanese are famous for their cuisine, making it a sensible choice after a hungry day’s fasting. Famous for its colourful interior and authentic dishes, we headed to Tanoura in Heliopolis for their open buffet (140LE). Adding to its vibrant décor, the venue was lined with jolly, festive flags and lanterns for Ramadan. Despite it not being overly busy, we were disheartened to see the sea of tables pushed so close together; making for some difficult navigation before we were seated.
Drinks of sweet and authentic tasting amar el din, karkade and tamr hindi were offered, along with our order of one perfectly ripe, delicious, watermelon smoothie (25LE).
The buffet was a medium sized affair, with everything set out neatly just before the call to prayer. Between tomato and clear noodle broth, we’d more readily recommend the latter for its sweeter, more refreshing taste. The tomato soup was nicely seasoned with herb leaves, but was incredibly salty and a little spicy.
The salad selection was diverse, with dips and traditional greens. The soft baladi bread went well with the creamy hommos and the bitter-sweet baba ghanough. The fattoush lacked toasted bread pieces but was marinated in a pleasantly sweet balsamic dressing, and whilst the Tanoura salad was slightly more bitter, it also seemed a little crunchier. Our potato salad incorporated small pieces of vegetables and was smothered in plenty of creamy mayonnaise.
Moving along to the main dishes, we were glad to see something for everyone; chicken, meat and fish dishes as well as pasta and rice. We opted for some juicy kofta, cooked in a buttery white sauce; the breaded fish fillet was also delicious, crispy and tender without any signs of grease. Interestingly on offer was chicken fillet battered with almond flakes; although it looked and sounds exotic, the chicken itself was a little dry. The chicken kofta was slightly over-processed for our own liking, and the puff pastry parcels, filled with a delectable beef bacon were slightly undercooked. Our fries were fairly standard and the chunks of lamb tawouk were a tad charred, but nicely seasoned. The spaghetti option was rolled in a light, tasty tomato and vegetable sauce.
The desserts were as expected, a small selection of four different, fresh Oriental desserts; balah el sham, lo’met el ady, atayef and sowabe’ Zeinab, alongside some disappointingly dry Om Ali. Our favourite were the balah el sham, which were soft, syrupy and curiously tasted of cocoa.
Unfortunately, at the time of our visit the atmosphere was not as relaxed as usual, the seating was cramped and there was no cheerful background music. Although the food was nothing out of the ordinary, the price of the buffet is very reasonable whilst the service remained as attentive as ever.