CAIRO: Located in the heart of Korba, Heliopolis, Al Manzil offers a special patio dining experience. We visited the restaurant on a busy Thursday evening and quickly grabbed a prime table by the fountain.
The interior is reminiscent of a Syrian/Levantine courtyard house. Dark brown bamboo chairs are paired with wooden tables, with Arabic music adding to the whole authentic ambiance. Whether you’re after delicious Lebanese food or looking to enjoy some shisha, Al Manzil is the go-to place.
Our meal began with a selection of mezze platters, served swiftly and with creative flair. The salad was a playful fusion of grilled eggplant cubes soaked in a generous dressing of tangy lemon juice balanced out by a sweet and pungent pomegranate sauce and mixed with cherry tomatoes, parsley, bell peppers and onions — the latter two adding a hint of crunchiness that worked well with the soft aubergine
It was accompanied by Al Manzil’s complementary signature dip tray, comprising scoops of homemade labneh, cold moussaka and a selection of pickles. This mezze-trio comes paired with anise-kissed crunchy breadsticks, freshly baked pita bread and a bowl of fresh vegetables.
We were also served a chickpea-sesame puree spread across a shallow bowl, with perfectly seasoned beef shawarma strips lying in the middle. We added an abundant drizzle of olive oil and indulged in this marvel of flavor.
For our main course, we settled on fattet hummus and arayes bil lahmeh. Fattet hummus is a hearty Levantine staple — a cross between chickpea-bread pudding and chickpea casserole — made by layering fried pita bread, adding a generous amount of laban, and showering it with a plentiful sprinkle of chickpeas and pine nuts. This classic dish’s flavors certainly hit all of the right notes. The creamy yogurt sauce subtly countered the nutty flavor of chickpeas, with the bread pieces and pine nuts further enhancing the overall experience.
As delicious as the fatteh was, the arayes lahmeh was a real contender too: straight-off-the-grill pita bread sandwiches stuffed with minced lamb meat and served with pickled cucumbers. The dish was served in a dibs rimman-based marinade — a blend of minced meat, onion, sesame paste and tomatoes. The succulent lamb’s taste was heightened by the fierce vividness of pomegranate sauce and made our taste buds dance with joy.
When it was time for dessert, we savored Al Manzil’s signature sweet dish ghazl banat bil ice cream — mastic ice cream wrapped in Arabic cotton candy and drizzled with pistachios. Once my spoon broke through the candy floss, it came apart, revealing a mountain of gooey ice cream. The dish delivered the sweetness of the floss’s velvety wool-like strands fused with the chewy, creamy mastic ice cream and the nuttiness of crispy pistachios.
We ended our extensive meal with two cups of Turkish coffee, enjoying a few more minutes of good tarrab — and an unexpected summer breeze — before hitting the busy Cairo roads again.
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Source: AN-Food and Health
Al Manzil: A cozy Lebanese oasis on the bustling streets of Cairo