Some people go out to eat just to put fuel in their tanks. To others, going out to eat is an all-encompassing experience - from the atmosphere to the food to the company, it all matters. If you're going on a first date and he says he's taking you out for dinner, there'll be a lot of awkward silences and fumbling forks - unless you two click automatically, or he spends the entire night talking to you about his ever-expanding Pokémon collection. Yes, that actually happens. We're not sure what's worse; that, or a brutally boring office lunch where you're forced to intermingle with corporate colleagues.
Among their many claims to fame, The Fondue Pot prides itself on creating an interactive and entertaining dining experience that's fun for everyone who enters the warmth of their Swiss chalet. Sisters and co-owners Natalie and Mariam Ghamrawy have pioneered the endeavour to bring Cairo its first fully integrated fondue experience, and to set straight our misconceptions about the fondue world. For starters, fondue is not French and is not limited to chocolate. Baffled by these new pieces of information, we sat down with the Ghamrawy sisters to get a better understanding - and taste - of all things fondue.
Through The Fondue Pot's extensive menu - traditionally Swiss with Egyptian twists - we learned that chocolate is only one of the many types of fondue that the Swiss have to offer. There is also cheese fondue and meat and chicken fondues, and each can be served in a unique manner. Every element of this menu allows you to cater your food to meet your palate's pleasure; plus, The Fondue Pot uses imported ingredients, many of which are unique to their restaurant. For those looking for a Mediterranean spin on Eastern Europe, you haven't been forgotten; The Fondue Pot menu includes items with a kick of flavour that fuses the Oriental with the European.
More captivating than their elaborate menu is the experiential element of it all. The Fondue Pot focuses on experiential dining; dishes are not ready-made in the kitchen but are brought out in a way where you are part of the food preparation experience. The Tatar Hat allows you to stick your meat on the grill and cook it yourself, while allowing its juices to drip onto the vegetables being sautéed at the bottom. In addition to cooking your meat to your culinary pleasure, the Tatar Hat allows you to simultaneously cook your Raclette - a traditional Swiss cheese dish. We loved the Raclette and the fact that we could add whatever flavourful ingredients we wanted to them. But our favourite part of the whole dining experience? Possibly the Pizzadome.
"We wanted to make sure that there's something fun for kids to enjoy and experience," says Mariam. Well, we're not kids, but everyone had a blast making their own pizzas inside the Pizzadomes and rediscovering their inner child. Being involved in the food-making process leaves a lot of room for interaction, not only between you and the food but also between you and those you're sharing a meal with. Remember that awkward date and the boring business lunch? We're sure they'll be a lot more lively when you get to sword fight with bread in the cheese fondue or steal a chocolate-dipped fruit from someone else's plate. However… The Fondue Pot is not responsible for what may happen to you if you steal something delicious off someone else's plate because, as we all know, Joey doesn't share food!
Cheesy as it sounds - no pun intended - there's a story behind everything at The Fondue Pot that is drawn out of the depths of Swiss culture and tradition. From the intricately designed cuckoo clock that adorns the wall to the giant cow bells believed to bring good luck, The Fondue Pot is rich with tales of a culture foreign to most Egyptians. We were curious as to what brought Swiss fondue to the Egyptian streets but, as we've learned, there's a story behind everything. So, what's the story behind The Fondue Pot?
"Our mom is Polish and was born and raised in Austria," tells Natalie. "Switzerland is located right between Austria, France, and Germany, so there's a lot of influence from these nearby countries. That's how the whole story started - we wanted to start a fondue restaurant because there was a gap in the market and people used to love our mom's fondue so we figured, why not start a fondue restaurant?" With fondue parties being a tradition in their own home, we're glad that the Ghamrawy sisters brought this authentic touch of Swiss culture to life right here in Cairo
Adding to the authentically Swiss dining experience, The Fondue Pot boasts an ambience much like that of a cozy chalet atop the Swiss alps. Complete with dim lighting and warm, filling food, the only thing missing at The Fondue Pot was a fireplace where we could curl up and take a nap. Egypt doesn't get much of a winter - no matter how much we complain about the cold - but, for those who wish to retreat to the Alps and experience the warmth of a Swiss chalet, The Fondue Pot is the right place to be.
If you're new to the fondue experience, fear not; The Fondue Pot offers combinations for you to choose from. Each combination is a five-course meal with the perfectly paired fondue flavours to enrich your dining experience. The Ghamrawy sisters are so confident that you'll love the experience that they not only offer catering services, but there is a boutique inside The Fondue Pot complete with everything you need to create your own fondue experience at home. Despite fondue being a relatively new concept in Egypt, and the Ghamrawy sisters are introducing it with class in the heart of Heliopolis and at Cairo Festival City.
You can check out their Facebook page here or follow them on Instagram @thefonduepot.