Monday, February 06, 2006

The Cairo Cellar, Zamalek, Cairo

The President Hotel can be found in Cairo's upscale neighborhood, Zamalek. Zamalek is on an island in the middle of the Nile. In the basement of the relatively modest President Hotel, there is a nice little cellar restaurant, which Dr. A says has not changed in the slightest for 30 years. (I have never stayed at the President, but I have heard that it is inexpensive, friendly, welcoming, and comfortable.)

The Cairo Cellar has a short menu, including steaks, breaded veal, chicken, hamburgers, and some pasta. Dr. A ordered the veal, and he enjoyed it very much. I had the steak au poivre ($7.85), which I ordered "Very Rare." In Egypt, I have ordered several steaks, and after a little misunderstanding where we discuss whether I mean "Very well done," they always seem to get my steaks exactly the way I like them. The "au poivre" part was really good -- a well peppered brown sauce that smothered the juicy steak. It came with steamed vegetables that were cooked to the point that they were still crunchy. Mr. M ordered the house steak with mashed potatoes.

I particularly liked the starters. We ordered a plate of fried calamari, which were tender, hot, and not at all like the rubber calamari sometimes served in restaurants. We also had another kind of foul, which were steamed fava (broad) beans served with lemon and olive oil. We ate them with our hands disposing of the thick outer skins in a little side plate. I love simple vegetable dishes.

Cairo cafe is a bit like a pub, and we had a bottle of white Sherezade ($14.83). This was a good meal and the price for three of us including starters, a main course, tax, and a generous tip was about $65. If you are in Cairo, this restaurant is friendly and excellent value for the money. It is also nice to be able to have a glass of wine at a reasonable price.

I will be writing more about Egyptian wine in another posting, but Sherezade seems to offer fairly good wine at a reasonable price. (In the shops it costs about $6.00.)

No comments: