Looks ordinary from the outside, but the food is anything but ordinary.
Owner, Ehab Hassan. Brings authentic Mediterannean cuisine to Cary.
Recently I attended a media preview of the menu offerings at the newly opened Nile Café in Cary, NC.
Nile Cafe has been open for a couple of months now. They serve Mediterranean food. Owners are a husband & wife duo who hail from Egypt although they've lived in the US for 30 years now. In that time, they've cooked (and baked beautiful cakes and pastries) for family and friends' special events. Throughout that time ,they consistently got positive feedback and encouragement to open a restaurant featuring their delicious dishes. Now they've finally done it.
When I asked Ehab what the main difference is between Egyptian cuisine and say for example, Lebanese or Greek, he said spice is the main difference. Cumin is a popular spice used in Egyptian cooking.
Ehab, by the way, is one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. He loves talking about the food and very much wants everyone to enjoy everything. It warmed my heart to hear him talk about how important it is to him to make almost everything in-house from scratch. Their hummus is not made with canned chick peas... The stuffed grape leaves are not canned either... They make it all on the premises. You can taste the difference. Fresh fresh fresh!!!
Tatziki - Made in-house.
Baba Ghanouj / Hummus - Made in-house.
Pictured here are the stuffed grape leaves and 2 of the 3 rotating soups they feature daily. The Lemon Chicken Soup knocked my socks off. So very good! I've actually been back a couple of times now for the soup and a few other to-go items. Ehab said that a customer brought some of that soup to a sick friend who ended up liking it so much that she came in to buy some as soon as she felt well. The other soup pictured here is the Lentil Soup and it was also really delicious & hearty,
According to Ehab, the crispy fried onions on top of the soup make it officially Egyptian. 😉 Actually. he said crispy friend onions on top of most of his dishes make it officially Egypitian. I love me some fried onions, so........ pile them on please!
Stuffed Grape Leaves - Made in-house of course.
Falafel - Made in-house.
Penne Bechemel - hearty beyond words. It contains minced meat, Bechamel and a tomato-based sauce on top. This here is the side dish, priced at $6.99. One could easily make a meal out of this large "side".
Koshari - This is the definition of comfort food. Listed on the menu as a "side", (it's huge) this is the most popular dish in Egypt. It consists of white rice, macaroni, chick peas, lentils and a tomato, vinegar, & garlic sauce. And of course, it's topped with crispy fried onions. Yum!!
Ehab kept telling us to "go deep", as in, deep into the pile, as the lentils are deep inside and that's the good stuff. The whole thing was "the good stuff" to me though.
Moussaka - Potato based dish with eggplant, lamb, cheese and tomato sauce on top.
Queen of the Nile - You can choose different meats for this entree. This particular one was made with beef and chicken. Oh yes, vegetables too, but the meat, oh boy was it tasty. No joke, a good dish really does start with good quality ingredients. Meats were juicy and flavorful.
Desserts - All delicious... but I have to say, the truffles and the coconut cake were my faves.
More dessert - Mango Knufa - OK, so maybe this was a close 2nd to my above 2 tied faves. The taste of this dessert is mostly what you'd expect, except for the bottom layer. Such a surprise. Although the whole thing is laden with mango cream and fruit pieces, it is crunchy on the bottom. Think of a broken up Triscuit cracker in terms of appearance and consistency. Taste-wise though, it is light and sweet. Very nice combination.
Sip a delicious Turkish coffee with your dessert. How pretty is the presentation?
By the way, their chef, Saad, formerly of An and Taverna Agora, definitely brings some amazing skills to the dishes. I got to speak to him for a bit too, and he is now very happy to be cooking the type of cuisine he is most passionate about. It's nice when things come together like that isn't it?
I highly recommend this place. Whether you're staying or getting a to-go meal, you will be impressed with the taste and quality of the food. Don't forget that lemon chicken soup. It is soup season after all. ;)