Volume II, Number 6 June 1st, 2001
Restaurant Five Bells, Cairo
By Daniel Lanier
Recently I was dining in a restaurant, which pleasantly mixed various styles and atmospheres in a surprising way. I sat in a wonderfully romantic section of a nearly European-style garden, next to a little baroque fountain, surrounded by sculpted cherubs. I found myself gazing at a statue of Ramses while listening to soft Sixties music. A unique but somehow soothing combination. My dinner began with a marvelous first course of a miraculous cheese cream from Egyptian white cheese and tomatoes and with bread; I went on to Tammiyya (Falafel), Fuul (fava beans), French onion soup and ended up with a mixed plate with different kinds of grilled meat. Around me at the other tables were sitting Egyptians, French, Germans and Americans.
Five Bells is a relaxing green garden oasis for almost everyones taste, in the middle of urban Cairo. I thought: no matter from what nation my guests will be, they cant go wrong. Egyptian food? No problem, Five Bells offers everything from stuffed vine leaves to several mezzas, from Dawood Basha to Shish Tawook and Kebab, from Baba Ghannoug to Tehina and to Om Ali nearly everything (except Molokhiyya). Italian kitchen? Just choose between several spaghetti and risotto dishes! Meat and seafood? Dont worry, escalope and fillet, from veal, beef and lamb, with mushroom or curry or pepper or lemon sauce, fish grilled or in white sauce and and and I even found lamb testicles on the menu. Dont ask me if this is a very delicious international specialty or just a local tradition. I didnt dare to ask.
Five Bells has something for everyones taste. Yet, I saw the whole patronage that evening ordering a specialty of the house: Fondue Bourguignonne. Every half an hour the waiter brought a large pot with hot oil to one of the tables, with several sauces, french fries and fillet cubes for frying them by yourself in the hot oil 60 LE (16 US-$) for two persons.
Among the dishes I tasted, I found exceptionally delicious the Beef Stroganoff and the mushroom sauce, which I ordered to the mixed grill plate. All main dishes cost LE 29 ($ 7.50), which is rather inexpensive even if you add 12 percent service charge and LE 3.50 cover charge. A elegant and noble atmosphere with good food, for a very reasonable amount of money.
The dining rooms inside are finely decorated with paintings and a large 250 years old gobelin, which had its original home in the Upper Egyptian palace of the family of the restaurants owner, in Assiut. Part of the location is a cozy English pub and a bar, where regulars even can bring with them and leave their own bottles of alcoholic drinks. The bottle gets a sticker with the name of the owner, will be kept in the bars refrigerator and stays there until the bottles owner finished it, no matter if this takes him one day or one year. Every Thursday plays a live band.
My personal opinion: My favorite is the garden, without a doubt. It is the best part of the restaurant, a wonderful oasis in the middle of Cairo. If you are nearby any afternoon, just drop in for having a relaxing coffee or a soft drink, have a look into the menu, enjoy the garden and you probably will develop the desire return at night again, for a romantic dinner.
Restaurant Five Bells. 9, El Adel Abou Bakr Street, Zamalek, Cairo. At the corner Ismail Mohamed Street. Open daily from 12:30 pm to 1:30 am.
Mr. Mohamed Arabi: The "Bird Man" of Aswan By Dr. Susan L. Wilson
A Brief Look at the Sinai By Jimmy Dunn
Mummies of Ancient Egypt: The Process and Beyond By Catherine C. Harris
The Lost Feeling, Or Was It a Mummy? By Arnvid Aakre
Breaking the Color Code By Anita Stratos
Alabaster: Egypt's Rock of the Ages By Sonny Stengle
Wreck Diving in the Egyptian Red Sea By Ned Middleton
The Animals of Ancient Egypt By Caroline Seawright
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Hotel Reviews By Jimmy Dunn & Juergen Stryjak
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich
The Month in Review By John Applegate
Egyptian Exhibitions By Staff
Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad
Nightlife Various Editors
Egypt On Screen By Carolyn Patricia Scott
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around Various Editors
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek