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Falafel and Hummus.  (Falafel and Hummus.)
Falafel and Hummus. (Falafel and Hummus.)

Lounge Review | Cairo Grill, Mumbai

Bandra’s newest Lebanese takeaway joint specializes in a New York city street food favourite

Over the years, enterprising restaurateurs in Bandra have made it their mission to introduce Mumbai to trendy food concepts from around the globe. The neighbourhood is usually the first to adopt and popularize novel foods through the matchbox-sized grab-and-go outlets dotting the streets, by-lanes as well as the quick-service restaurants along the Carter Road promenade. The latest Lebanese eatery, Cairo Grill, is no different, and hopes to cash in on the success of “Chicken and Rice", a cult New York city street food dish made famous by the The Halal Guys food truck.

The good stuff

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We stopped by Cairo Grill for a late dinner this past Sunday to find plenty of locals at the shop—some queuing up for parcels of steaming rice and creamy hummus to take home, others hanging around the parapet outside (there is no seating), wolfing down the large meat-filled wraps and cheesy fries. Most of the dishes on the menu are made with spit-roasted chicken and lamb; vegetarians can choose between grilled cottage cheese and falafel.

Since the kitchen had run out of lamb, we tried the Smoked Chicken Shawarma ( 150) and the Chicken N Rice ( 250). The mildly spiced, charred chunks of chicken in the wrap were squeezed with piping-hot fries, slivers of crunchy lettuce and cool pickled vegetables and slathered in a medley of condiments—a tongue-numbing hot chilli sauce, a cool and slightly garlicky mayonnaise-like dip and an earthy harissa. The rice dish was similarly assembled over a bed of lettuce, topped with tinier bits of chicken and covered with the same sauces. The fiery dish felt like an upgrade to KFC’s popular Rice Bowlz but unless your metabolism is akin to that of a teenager, its blood-red coloured grains and lashings of mayonnaise sauce (extremely addictive) are best reserved for rare, alcohol-induced cravings for greasy stodge.

The not-so-good

As a street food, shawarma is now so popular that it’s even sold off hand-carts on seaside promenades and Cairo Grill faces stiff competition from Bandra Lebanese favourites like Carter’s Blue and Moshe Shek’s Sufra. To compete, the eatery will have to seriously up its game in terms of flavour and quality. We were quite disappointed with our order of the Falafel Hummus platter ( 150)—the hummus itself was quite bland, claggy and puréed to baby-food consistency, and the falafel fritters were dense and missing key spices and green herbs. Halfway through, both chicken dishes seemed slightly one-note, lacking acidity; unfortunately, even the pickled veggies didn’t deliver the crunch and tang needed.

Talk plastic

Shawarmas are priced at 150 for cottage cheese, 140 for falafel, 150 for smoked chicken and 200 for lamb; New York Food Truck Style Chicken N Rice is priced at 250, Lamb N Rice and Combination Rice (with chicken and lamb) are priced at 295; and hummus platters cost 130-200. The shop also sells fries with toppings like cheese, chicken and lamb from 60-170, a Caesar salad ( 200 for vegetarian and 225 with chicken), and Oreo-cookie topped nachos as dessert for 150.

Cairo Grill, 12/A, New Kamal Kunj CHS, at the junction of 15th Road and 33th Road, near Bru World Café, Bandra (West). For details, call 022-26000250 or visit www.cairogrill.in

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