Saturday, November 29, 2008

Condetti, Cairo

Condetti Restaurant & Cafe
Locations in Dokki and Maadi
33 Amman Street, Off Mohi ed Din abu el Azz st. 3760 4114
10 Street 82, off street 6. 2359 2440

We ordered a home delivery from Condetti.

Portions are on the smaller side for Egypt. My Ceasar Salad(25LE) was half the size of a similar salad at Crocodile Grill, Fuddruckers, Chillis or Trianon. But I must admit that it had a nice grilled chicken and just the right amount of cheese to give it flavour without beating the purpose of ordering a salad (light and crunchy)

The Fried mushrooms (26LE) and the Condetti Chicken wings (21LE) - chicken wings stuffed with mince and crumb fried - were interesting but lost their punch in the delivery. I'm sure they would have tasted much better at location, freshly out of the hot oil.

The Condetti Burger with cheddar (29LE) was average. The cheese was not the regular sliced cheese, but it was not something I would go back for.

The Quattro Formaggi (33LE) was Penne pasta in a 4 cheese sauce, that was small sized but very filling. They do offer a pasta in white sauce with mushrooms which might have helped bring some texture to the dish.

They charge 4LE as delivery charge and delivery was quite fast. I was suprised to see a man in a full sleeved shirt and tie bring in the delivery. Only in Egypt :)

They offer breakfasts, a wide variety of coffee and other drinks. Soups, Salads, Pata, Pizza, Main dishes of meat, fish and chicken and desserts. Nothing to stand out though.

It was a reasonable experience, but not one I would be enticed into ordering again. I may try the dine in option sometime and check if that will improve my opinion of this restaurant.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hardees, Cairo

Hardees fast food locations are spread out all over Cairo and beyond. Their home delivery (19066) service practically covers every corner of the city. Their restaurants are pretty decent to sit down in too.


The nuggets at Hardees in my opinion are much better than those at McDonalds or KFC. The nuggets are sold as chicken stars (7.95 Le/6 pieces, 10.68Le/9 pieces, 11.82 for a happy meal - 4 stars + fries + small drink)

They have a lot of great burger options which aren't available at McDonalds. Tops among these are the roast beef and cheese. Then is the hot dog (remember the kids meal version comes minus the chilli-mince sauce and raw onions). The mushroom n swiss is great but can get a bit messy. The Santa Fe and the Jalapeno chicken are better geared toward the population that likes a hint of spice in their burgers.
Check out their Complete menu


While the curly fries are my absolute favorite item on the menu, I do wish they would bring the chilli cheese fries to Cairo too.

The great thing with Hardees is their large variety of burgers. You will definitely find an option to satisy everyone in your group.

While they do offer home delivery, this kind of food always tastes better fresh out of the fryer. Fries tend to get soggy and both fries and burgers don't taste the same when zapped in the microwave. The cheese goes runny, the crisp lettuce gets cooked, the mayonnaise melts into the bun, ughhh I could go on. So especially with winter upon us, this may not be the best time to order a home delivery from here unless you are really stuck for options at home. But its definitely worth a take away or dine in option.

Thai Express, Dubai

Thai Express
Dubai

This restaurant currently has 3 branches across Dubai. I've eaten at their Lamcy Plaza (04 334 0445) outlet, but this is my food court stall of choice at the Dubai airport (04 220 0890/892).

Especially as this is normally my last dose of spicy food before returning to Egypt. The Airport branch often runs out of items or may not serve them even if they are on the menu.

The Khao Phad Thai(28dhs) is quite good. Its definitely not the best Thai in Dubai, but a great option at the airport especially if you are stuck in a stopover situation.

They have a lot of vegetarian options too. Soups are about 16dhs. Appetisers are also 16dhs, but I've only found spring rolls available at the airport. The main chicken/beef/seafood dishes come with plain noodles or plain steamed rice. They are in the 28-29dhs range. The chicken red curry and spicy fried chicken with cashew nuts re my favourites altho the sweetness in the second dish gets more cloying as you progress.

They have a pretty interesting lemon grass drink called Nam Traklai-6dhs which is very light and refreshing and not too sweet.

As I mentioned before, this is a decent option if you are stuck in a stopover situation.

Rainforest Cafe, Cairo

Rainforest Cafe
City Stars, 5th Floor, Phase 1
Nasr City
Cairo

Rainforest Cafe is an American theme restaurant that has recently opened a branch here in Cairo. As the name suggests, the interiors are done up in the style of a rainforest with robotic animals. Cairenes would be familiar with this concept as Planet Africa has had 2 branches in the city since ages. But in my opinion the Rain Forest Cafe is much better in terms of experience, food, service and entertainment for young kids.


We visited the restaurant with friends and their 8 year old son, who thoroughly enjoyed himself right from the atmosphere and decor, to the giant aquariums, the thunderstorms at half an hour intervals, the complementary coloring books they gave him and his kids hot dog meal (20LE)

The property is huge spread over 2 floors, so seating is rarely a problem.

There is a wide variety of drinks, even the Ice Tea (14LE) comes in multiple flavors. Alcohol isnt served, so all the cocktails are actually mocktails. The banana pina colada was 19LE and the mosquito mojito and lemon juice were also 14 LE. I quite enjoyed my mojito and found it very refreshing. Large Bottle of water is 9LE.

The kid had his mini hot dogs for 20LE. 2 good sized hot dogs and plenty of fries which was too large for him. Even the kids meals are huge portions.

The cobb salad was 55LE. The fish and chips at 64 was a little too oily (think Chicken crispers oily at Chillis) for my taste, but my husband quite enjoyed it. The Amazon beef fillet (93) was excellent quality meat. I had the Maya's mixed grill which at 119LE is a bit expensive but it comes with 3 different types of meat and in really large portions, so it can be easily shared by 2.

They had a very interesting looking dessert called "the volcano" We were too stuffed from our main course to even attemot dessert, but maybe next time....

There is a merchandise shop at the entrance which could be quite a challenging expedition with demanding kids. Fortunately the little boy in our group did not fall in this category and we managed to emerge unscathed.

Its a wonderful place to take your kids. although the place is large there is only one entry/exit and the staff at that point are very careful that unattended kids aren't allowed to cross that point. I have heard mothers with younger kids say that the experience was overwhelming for the little ones. 6-7+ seems a good age to take them in.

Read an article about the opening of the cafe on Business Today Egypt

Thai Chi, Dubai

Thai Chi
Pyramids
Wafi City
Dubai
+971 4 324 0000

Lovely decor and ambiance with the frontage of a Thai house sheltering the glass front of the kitchen. The head chef is the stern yet sweet looking matronly Thai lady who presents her dishes with a flourish across the counter at the glass kitchen.

A complementary dish of fried prawn crackers is served while you wait.

A bottle of water will set you back 18 dhs.
We ordered a sampler appetiser platter which came with 2 pieces each of fried shrimps, fish cakes, chicken in pandanus leaf, vegetable spring roll and chicken set in a mussel shell and deep fried. Quite tasty and served with a variety of different flavored sauces for 142 dhs. Everything was tasty. Nothing was over spiced or over flavored. The sauces were a mix of sweet, salty, spicy and crunchy. (as is normal when serving Thai cuisine)

We then had a phad thai chicken (54) which was served in an egg parcel and was excellent.
We weren't too hungry and couldn't eat too much. Will definitely return another day with a better appetite.

Most dishes are in the 50-60dhs range except for the exotic sea food.

The restaurant serves both Thai and Chinese cusine. You can choose between indoor and outdoor seating. The indoor seating has the air conditioning but the outdoor seating allows you to enjoy the (mostly) live music from the amphitheatre right beside it.

Prices are in the Mid Range for Dubai and there were plenty of groups and families enjoying an evening out at the place.

We were pleasantly surprised to receive a 20% discount as we paid with our HSBC cards. There is also a Wafi City Card which can give you similar discounts across the mall which can be purchased from the Service Counters.

Saravana Bhavan, Dubai

Saravana Bhavan
Karama
Dubai
04 334 5252/ 336 9109

I first had the good fortune of eating at the original Saravana Bhavan in Chennai over 12 years ago. At that time it was the low cost of quality food that drove me there. But with that initial experience I was hooked, I have since had the opportunity to eat at 2 of their US locations and now the one in Dubai too. What is outstanding is the adherence to quality, hygiene and strict standardisation, so the food tastes the same, no matter where in the world you are eating.

Saravanas Bhavan is a saving grace for many South Indian Brahmins who are posted abroad, especially Tamilians since this is the style of Saravanas Cooking. this is a very similar style to Udipi cooking in the sense that the dishes as named in the menu may seem the same. It is the flavours which differ. this difference makes its most marked presence in the sambhar (lentil and vegetable curry) The Udipi Sambhar has a sweeter flavour to it while the Tamilian one tends to be more spicy.

The only problem with visiting most Udipi and Tamilian restaurants at lunch times is that they will only serve you meals (no idlis, no dosas, no vadas - just meals)

The meals themselves are quite good. Most restaurants will also give you free refills on everything. Saravanas Bhavan is no different. The advantage of visiting Udipi and Tamilian restaurants anywhere in the world, is that you don't have to bother about hygiene at all, as everything is cleaned thoroughly. Part of the cleaning & cooking process of kitchens run by Brahmins (which they used to be and very often still are)

The meals at Saravanas Bhavan are just 15dhs. For this princely amount you can have unlimited quantities of various items. The items change daily depending on what vegetable produce was best that day. There will always be rice as the main item. Some restaurants offer some kind of Indian bread too in the meal.

On the day we ate at Saravanas, we had the following meal. While some items will remain constant, some will change based on availability.
Rasam - a pepper and tomato based thin soup, normally drunk in the beginning as an appetiser and consumed again after the mel as a digestive, sometimes also mixed with rice.
Sambhar - a lentil based curry with vegetables. Always served with idlis and vadas and other snacks.
one more curry on the sour side.
Avial - a curd and coconut curry with vegetables.
Peas kurma - which went excellently with the puris
Potato dry dish.
Buttermilk - to soothes your tastebuds if anything is too spicy.
a sweet fruit salad.
a sweet rice based dish.
Pickles
Rice
Papads
bananas
curd

Very filling, yet very light on the stomach. You can always ask for ghee to be pured on your rice if you crave a slightly richer taste or just have your last mouthfuls of rice with ghee and salt or ghee and sugar depending on what taste you prefer.

A large bottle of water costs 3dhs.

They have a large variety of snacks which are served in the morning and evening in the 6-12 dhs range. There are even packaged snacks and sweets that you can buy to be consumed at home at your leisure.

Nandini Restaurant, Dubai

Nandini Restaurant
Karama
Dubai
04 335 4389

We were both huge fans of the Nandini chain of restaurants in Bangalore. This was also one of my husbands key accounts when he worked with Pepsi. He has eaten here so often that every biryani that he eats is compared against the Nandini biriyani.

The Nandini biryani is more of an Andhra style pulao (unfortunately I never found an equivalent even in 2 years of being based in Hyderabad!) which goes excellently with the Andhra style chicken chilli. The second dish is not for those with weak taste buds. With my love of chillis, I'm normally leaking out of my eyes and nose and have smoke coming out of my ears, but the dynamite taste is worth it.

After missing these dishes for so long, it was such a pleasure to discover that they have a couple of branches in the UAE. The biryani here costs 15 Dhs. You can ask for extra rice (without the meat) after ordering the biryani for 10 dhs (this concept of being able to order dish B only after ordering dish A is a uniquely South Indian restaurant concept.) The chicken chilly (not to be confused with the Chinese Chilly chicken that is also on their menu) is 13dhs.

As is usual with most Indian restaurants (outside Egypt), the biryani is served with a small bowl each of raita and a side curry.

Watching us relish the sauce with the chicken chilli, the waiter obligingly got us more sauce when we had polished the original plate off. :)

We normally supplement this biryani fest with a side dish of baby corn chilli or ladiesfinger (bhindi) 65 or carrot french fry or something like that in the 11 to 15 dhs range.

A large bottle of water, essential with the chillies is 2.5 dhs.

They do provide complementary pappadums and melted ghee (which goes very well even with the biriyani). The table normally has 4 basic condiments. Chutney pudi (better known as Andhra gun powder) gongura (a kind of green leafy vegetable found only in Andhra) chutney, a lime or mixed pickle and another pickle or chutney depending on the season.

Wonderful value for money with excellent taste.

I heard this restaurant had recently moved locations, will update the address once I find the updated one.

Mezbaan, Dubai

Mezbaan
Opposite Al Mansoor Video
Al Musallah Road
Bur Dubai
Dubai
Tel: +971 4 351 7863

A little Hyderabadi joint tucked into a corner on a busy street. We discovered this by chance on our last trip to Dubai. We were walking along the street and my nose liked the smells wafting out of this restaurant. The husband never disagrees with my nose test :) so in we went and proceeded to eat one of the best biriyanis and assortment of kebabs I had eaten in a long while. We later proceeded to order the chicken biryani (17) and the dry boneless chicken 65 (14) for dinner, every single night of the following week as a home delivery. He once even delivered at 2am (most restaurants close by midnight)

He has quite an extensive Menu whatever we have tasted from that menu has been a great experience. We have stuck to the Hyderabadi dishes so far and not ventured into his Chinese dishes yet, which I highly suspect would be Indian Chinese.

Excellent food. Not too oily. The biryani is served with green salad, and a small bowl each of raita and a side curry.

The parathas are excellent too for just 1dhs each.

Very reasonable food but the restaurant is clean and the food is very good.

Coconut Grove Restaurant, Dubai

Coconut Grove Restaurant
Rydges Plaza
Satwa Roundabout
Dubai
04- 398 3800/2222

Small little restaurant located in the Rydges Hotel, it fills up fast, so get there early or try to make a reservation. the restaurant is done up with traditional decor from Kerala but serves food from Kerala, Goa, Mangalore, Chettinad, Balti & Sri Lanka.

We focused mainly on Kerala food with a Sri Lankan dish thrown in to taste and we LOVED it all. The food smelled so awesome, that I couldn't be bothered to take pictures before digging in. The crabs got my fingers all dirty and the camera was the last thing on my mind :)

Service was a bit slow but the food was worth the wait and more. We sipped on a Kurumba punch (tender coconut water, mint leaves and lemon juice - 15dhs) while we waited which was cool and refreshing and helped build our appetites. A large bottle of water will cost you 5dhs. We were served a platter of pappadum strips with a tasty green chutney dip as a complementary starter while we waited for the food we had ordered.

For starters we had the malabar fried chicken - 25 - spicy batter fried bits of boneless chicken, masala fried prawns -50 - batter fried fresh medium sized prawns and deep fried mussels - 30. the chicken and prawns were excellent. Tender, fresh and bursting with flavor. We had asked for our food to be made extra spicyt and the chef obliged. Such a pleasure to eat after what passes as spicy food in Egyptian restaurants. What passes as 10 on a scle of 10 on spiciness in Egypt, would barely be a 3 or a 4 on a similar scale in Dubai or India. The mussels were shelled but were deep fried to a crisp, which meant they werent soft and easy to bite into, they felt a little chewy after the texture of the other starters although the flavor was great.

For the main course, we ordered a crab pepper masala which was excellent at 45. A semi dry gravy this was beautifully complemented with the appams (6 for 2 pieces if plain, 6 for one piece if topped with an egg) and malabar paratha (6)

We also had Gedara Sadu kukulmas - a Sri lankan chicken curry with coconut milk that went well with the idiappam (string hoppers - 3 pieces for 5 dhs)

We rounded off the dinner with 2 from the large choice of deserts to chose from. The Gajar ka halwa (15) was nothing like what my North Indian husband has ever eaten as it was cooked in coconut milk. He was expecting the regular halwa and wasn't too ecstatic about his desert, though he said it did taste good. I tried a famous Kerala dessert called Parippu pradhaman (a kheer made from coconut milk, jaggery and lentils - 15) this is a dish we cook in my hometown too and it brought back many happy memories from my childhoood.

They do have soups and vegetarian options, but the star is definitely the Kerala style seafood.

Excellent restaurant with outstanding food - provided you get a table.

I have heard that eating at Coconut Grove is a gamble. On most days the food is excellent, but on some days the food and service can suck.

Do note that in most restaurants in Dubai the taxes are included in the price of the item as printed in the menu.

Read reviews of this restaurant on
Time Out Dubai
Yahoo Travel

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Revolving Restaurant, Grand Hyatt, Cairo

Revolving Restaurant
Grand Hyatt, Cairo

The Revolving Restaurant is only open for dinner around 8pm. Prior Reservations are required (even if it is a couple of hours before) Jeans, shorts and open shoes for men are a non-no - as the hostess politely informed us over the phone. Jackets aren't required, but wouldn't be out of place either.

This is a lovely restaurant to take your date to with its awesome ambience, phenomenal food, panoramic view and attentive yet unobtrusive service. It is also a place I would recommend for formal business dinners or if you need to impress your (prospective) inlaws or anyone else for that matter.

The lighting is low and the ceiling is decorated with colored LED's forming asteroids, satellites and other heavenly objects :)


The restaurant is situated on the 41st floor. Access is through a private lift on the 40th floor (where you may be seated for awhile but can use that time to order a drink - Yes alcohol is now being served again at this restaurant) The restaurant completes an entire revolution every 75 minutes, situated as it is on the Nile, its an almost panoramic view of the entire city. To disguise its one blind spot, they have created a replica of an Ancient Egyptian temple on the outside.

The Restaurant has an open chef's kitchen. But there were no wafting odors to dull the experience.
Complimentary fresh baked bread was served along with pate and herbed butter. We were hungry and ordered 2 appetisers each. all of which were outstanding.

The Smoked salmon was served with pancakes, mashed potatoes and a salmon mousse.
The Salad St Jacques was pan fried scallops (slightly crisp on the outside, tender juicy & succulent on the inside), served on a crisp potato pancake with marinated red peppers and some greens. I would highly recommend this dish any day.
The Prawn Salad was a combination of king prawns and Scampi with a basil, lemon and avocado base.
The Carpaccio was other worldly. Some of the best that I have eaten. The green dressing and the cheese served with the carpaccio were an excellent combination with the meat.
For the main, I ordered Australian lamb chops which were done exactly the way I wanted. Not too tough, not too soft. The sauce (lamb jus) served with a white bean salad as a base was excellent.
My husband ordered more prawns . But given the superior quality of all the other dishes, he felt this was a bit lacking. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he knew something was missing. This is the only dish that needed something more. all the others were beautifully and perfectly balanced. Since I don't eat prawns unless I have cleaned them myself (long story about allergies) I couldn't check on what was missing. This was served with ratatouille which he quite enjoyed.
We ordered 2 sides of mushrooms and pureed potatoes (Fancy restaurants never say mashed potatoes they say pureed potatoes) The mushrooms were FANTABULOUS!. After all the tinned stuff most restaurants serve as mushrooms, this dish was outstanding. It was a mixture of 4-5 different fresh mushrooms and it had a wonderful woodsy yet fresh flavour. I would even eat this as my appetiser or my main course if I wasnt too hungry.
For dessert, he had the creme brulee which came in three flavours. Mango-jasmine and chocolate were familiar flavors, it was the strawberry-basil flavor that was an eye and taste bud opener.
The choclate fondant that I ordered was my other star of the evening. Crisp exterior, molten interior. Words can't desribe how amazing this desert was. The ice cream accompanying it, could have been a bit better, but the vanilla ice cream was a necessary touch to balance the chocolate. an absolute for anyone - chocoholic or otherwise!
My husband was initially apprehensive about eating French food. Although he had been forced to watch a lot of French cooking programs along with me, he had never encouraged me to try cooking any of these dishes as he felt they would be bland. Fortunatley eating at the Grand Hyatt's Revolving Restaurant has completley altered this perspective. French recipe books are next on the shopping list! (Like I need an excuse)

This was supposed to be a treat for me, so my husband did the ordering without letting me look at the menu. But knowing me for over 8 years and knowing what is good for him, he did let me make my own choices after describing each one to me. I'm not too sure of the rates, but what he said was that appetisers were in the 50LE+ range. Mains were between 80-150LE and side dishes were about 25LE.

Portions are a decent size. Slightly small by Egyptian standards. But it allows you to choose an appetiser, main and dessert for yourself.

Definitely a must visit.

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