The Sofitel Cairo El-Gezirah in Zamalek invited the Daily News Egypt and other media outlets to sample its iftar offering from barbecue restaurant El-Kebabgy. As you emerge from the large glass doors of the reception to the riverside gardens in the rear of the hotel, the first thing you notice is the stunning location of this restaurant. No matter how many times you may visit, the stunning view downriver never fails to impress.
Upon arrival we were seated at a table at Le Deck, which is located on the Nile itself.
Waiting on the table were traditional dried dates, a small meze of dips and fresh qamr el-din (apricot juice) and hibiscus juice. This was a light and delightful way to break the fast, accompanied by the call to prayer and the slowly dimming light reflecting off the serene waters of the Nile. The dips were freshly made and accompanied by El Kebabgy’s famous home baked bread.
The end of the fast prompted the waiters to serve small bowls of lesanasfour soup, named due to the seeds used in the soup that resemble a bird’s tongue. Pots containing penne pasta baked with mince meat and cheese and an Egyptian style fattah with meat were also served. The pasta was tasty and cooked well, as was the fattah,and while the meat was a little dry, this was offset by the moistness of the rice and yoghurt beneath it. A third bowl of hot tagin containing meat and potato was particularly flavoursome.
The centrepiece of the evening was a large mixed grill served on a miniature barbecue, placed in the middle of the table and ideal for sharing. The grill was cooked to perfection; the kofta was soft and juicy, the chunks of lamb were tender and the chicken meat was succulent,wrapped in a perfectly crisped skin. No aspect of the grill was a disappointment and was devoured quickly by the hungry guests.
Having enjoyed the main course, the majority of the diners retired to the comfortable seating area offered in Le Deck, while others opted to stay seated next to the water.
After a short break the waiters delivered the final course, a small plate of selected Egyptian sweets, the highlight of which was the baklava and basbousa. The sweets were complemented by a steaming pot of traditional mint tea, which we sipped slowly as a small fishing boat paddled by.
The tea and sweetsrounded off the sumptuous meal perfectly as the buildings lining the Nile corniche lit up the evening. It is possible to stay at Le Deck and enjoy an after dinner drink and contemplate where to go for sohour.
The Sofitel’s iftar offering was fulfilling enough to break the fast but not so huge that you find yourself feeling sleepy ahead of the long Ramadan nights. The stillness of the Nile and the cool riverside breeze makes the Sofitel the perfect place for breaking your fast on a summer Ramadan evening.