Tartine: Food-Court Lebanese in Dandy Mega Mall
Dandy Mega Mall, Km 28 Cairo/Alexandria Desert Rd.
11am - midnight
Ahmed El Dahan
Lebanese cuisine has firmly established itself as a favourite among the eclectic offerings of Cairo’s restaurants. Eaten almost as much as traditional Egyptian foods, Lebanese eateries continue to open across the city – even in the city’s shopping centres and their maligned, but consistently busy, food-courts. Serving up traditional Lebanese dishes, Tartine is one such example, situated in the food-court of Dandy Mega Mall.
The appearance of the Tartine is actually subtly chic, with gaps in the red brick walls behind the counter exposing a clean kitchen at the rear while staff are dressed in what look like fancy baker’s uniforms. The menu includes classic Levantine salads and starters, such as kebbeh (4LE), taboula (14LE), fatoush (14LE) and lebnah with garlic (15LE). Classic main course platters are also served, notably shawerma (48LE), kofta kheshkhash – which translates to spicy minced lamb – (34LE), kebbeh bil saniye – or kebbeh served on a dish – (48LE) and the dough-wrapped kofta arayis (36LE).
We ordered one fatoush salad (14LE), a grilled chicken platter (43LE) and hummus dip (12LE), along with a glass of fresh orange juice (10LE). For such a small and relatively simple order, the food took a lot longer to prepare and arrive than expected and even when we collected our tray of food, we still had to wait for a side of bread.
The grilled chicken looked appealing, served alongside a portion of French fries, pickles taboula and a garlic dip. The chicken was surprisingly soft, succulent and consistently lean. Served nicely chilled, the taboula salad was both fresh and zesty, while the fries were deliciously crisp and golden. Meanwhile, the garlic dipping sauce was thick, with a strong garlic tinge.
The fatoush salad was a glorious mix of crisp lettuce cuts, tomatoes and cucumbers topped with subtly sweet curls of fried bread, drenched in balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. The inclusion of mint leaves gave the salad a refreshing twist. The hummus dip was smooth and bittersweet, complete with a generous lashing of olive oil.
Putting aside the stigma that comes with food court dining, Tartine’s generous portions and fresh ingredients make for a surprisingly authentic, Lebanese experience.