Zeitouna Lebanese Bistro: New Lebanese Bistro Opens in Nile City Mall
9AM - midnight -
There’s no shortage of Lebanese cuisine on
offer in Cairo, but there aren’t too many that break out of gimmicked
sandwiches or dishes. Over in Nile City Towers, however, Zeitouna Lebanese Bistro’s
creative menu has touches of flair and inventiveness without losing sight of
the cores of fine Lebanese cuisine.
Delicious complimentary bread and olives
opened our appetites, and we started the meal with the grilled halloumi (21LE)
and the makanik (35LE) – a serving of small Lebanese sausages flambéed in
butter and lemon. The halloumi came in four very generous slices and tasted
great; the texture wasn’t too rubbery as per usual, and a little drizzle of
olive oil and a pinch of pepper brought out the flavour. Looking like regular
oriental sausages in tomato sauce, the makanik was a shock to the palette. The
small cocktail-sized sausages are incredibly soft, and full of a unique, zesty
tang on account of the lemon.
To accompany our meal, we ordered a pretty
inoffensive peach ice tea (13LE), and an interesting Lebanese take on lemonade.
Described in the menu as a lemon and mint juice, it actually tastes more like
an old-school cloudy lemonade. Although the one mint leaf made little
difference, the noticeable rose water mixed into the drink added a nice touch.
For our main courses, we plumped for the
mixed grill (67LE) and the kofta orfalih (54LE) – a special kofta mix made with
chilli pepper and garlic. All the grilled dishes are served with a choice of
fries, rice, a baked potato or a mini-serving of fatoush.
The kofta orfalih is lighter than most
kofta dishes, and although it is served in generous portions, we would have
gladly welcomed more of the chilli pepper spice that the waiter promised. The
mixed grill consisted of pieces of shish tawouk, grilled beef and kofta kabab.
The pieces of chicken and beef were tender and seasoned well, and left us
hankering for a lot more. Both dishes were served with two small corn-on-the
cob pieces, two roasted tomato halves and a roasted pepper, as well as a small
bowl of very fresh hummus.
For our optional sides, we chose the roast
potato and a bowl of fatoush. The potato was pleasant enough, especially the
herb butter that it came with, while the fatoush was fantastic. Every ingredient tasted fresh, and it was
very heavy on dressing, although the pomegranate was more of an aesthetic
element rather than one that added any real spin to the taste.
For 23LE, you can get three scoops of ice
cream, choosing from lemon sorbet, halawa, or om ali flavours. Lemon sorbet
always goes down a treat, but we couldn’t help but try the halawa and om ali
flavours. The former replicated the taste of halawa to an insanely precise
degree, while the latter tasted like coconut. The raisins and pistachios made
it a very good ice cream nonetheless.
What Zeitouna Lebanese Bistro does better than almost all
other alternatives is straddle that line between high-end dining and good,
simple, hassle-free food. The atmosphere is comfortable, the staff are courteous
and helpful, and the menu is varied enough to keep you coming back.