El Konafa Reviews: Tabla Luna (Zamalek Branch)
8 months ago
Welcome to the neighborhood
As a Zamalakite, I was pretty damn pleased when I heard Tabla Luna was opening a branch in Zamalek (and one street over from my house no less). The Latin-American restaurant caused quite a stir when it opened a few years ago in Maadi, and each time I made the long and arduous trek there, it was worth it.
Zamalek’s branch? Not so much. It wasn’t even worth walking just the street over.
But like all things, let us begin from the beginning. Tabla Luna took over the spot of Blackstone Bistro (in between there was a short stint by a restaurant called The Lobby, but it was a kind of blink-and-you-miss-it thing). Tabla Luna is underneath Eurodeli and you will never find parking, so let that be known from now.
The entrance of Tabla Luna is a longish hall that we had to walk awkwardly down because there was no one there to greet us. Once seated, we realized there’s no menu. They chose to write their menu on blackboards, which they do in the Maadi branch – with the difference being it actually works in Maadi, because the restaurant is so small that all tables can see the board. In Zamalek the menu is written over three or four boards, and literally no one can see them, so you have to get up and squint at the boards with a bunch of strangers before you return to your table and try to remember the Spanish name of the dish you wanted to order.
From Confused Argentinian to Confused Egyptian
When we ordered, I specifically asked if they had the sweet potato gnocchi (its official name being ‘The Confused Argentinian’) and the head waiter told me that yes, yes they do. Already one would assume they do because it’s on the menu, but I’ve long learned it’s better to be safe than sorry.
When I asked if they had wine (Blackstone Bistro had a liquor license so I assumed they did as well), I was told it was BYOB (bring your own booze). Fine. It would’ve been nice to know prior to going because I wasn’t about to dash out and get a bottle of red now, but no biggie.
They quickly brought out their welcome dish, three little tortillas with different salsas, and things started out well. I ordered cheese and corn empanadas as my starter and my trusty dinner companion AR ordered chips and guacamole. The empanadas (basically Latin-American sambouseks) were small, lacking enough filling, and a bit greasy but overall tasted good. AR’s guacamole was also fine.
AR’s main dish of grilled tilapia fillet was brought promptly after the starters, but my gnocchi was nowhere to be seen. I waited patiently for another 15 minutes before I asked the waiter (the one who took my order) where my gnocchi was. He looked at me blankly. Long story short, not only did they forget about my gnocchi, they DIDN’T EVEN HAVE IT, although they said they did when I asked. And I didn’t find this out until 45 minutes after I ordered!
By this time, I was pissed and ready to leave, even though the waiter started inanely offering other dishes off the menu. AR informed me that his tilapia wasn’t even that good. We ordered the check. 5 minutes later the waiter brought us a complimentary dessert and apologized profusely, but was I really going to have dessert without having dinner first? I think not. (Or at least not today).
While walking out, we ran into a friend who warned us that several people had gotten food poisoning there and assured us that even though he was accompanying friends to Tabla Luna, he himself wasn’t going to eat. Thanks for the info, friend.
In a nutshell: Tabla Luna Zamalek has a looooooooong way to go before it’s on par with its sister Maadi branch. If you go, go with a grain of salt.