Among the clutter of Gamaat El Dowal Street in Mohandiseen, Trattoir stands out as a big clean slab of whiteness. The lounge is difficult to miss; the big silver ‘Trattoir’ signage will catch your attention, and the line of fountains across the face of the venue will keep it, if only for a while. All seating is outdoors, and tables can accommodate everything from couples to larger groups. As you step through the entrance, a large projection screen on your right-hand side shows a muted Egyptian music channel.

Where the Trattoir menu hints to impress most is in its drinks. Having studied every milkshake combo, we received the devastating news that all milkshakes and ice cream-based desserts were unavailable. Visibly shaken by this bombshell, we were assured that the juices and mocktails on offer were of the upmost quality. And they weren’t wrong.

The messy sounding mango lassi (22.95LE) – banana, kiwi and mango – was a fresh and thick pleasant surprise, as was the banayna (22.95LE), which was made of banana and apple with cinnamon powder. The banana gave it thickness, the apple gave it taste and the cinnamon gave it a kick. Even the basics were good; we tentatively ordered a pomegranate juice (20.95LE), which turned out to be delicious albeit a little too sweet. You can also mix any two juices for 18.95LE. The strawberry and banana cocktail was chilled, refreshing and, like all the drinks, fresh.

Shisha is available in all expected flavours (14.75LE to 21.75LE without lay). An apple shisha was very average and had that generic sweet taste that makes it almost indistinguishable from other flavours.

Food on the menu isn’t as varied as the drinks, but there are still a few interesting options. The Trattoir Continental (33.95LE) is a mixed platter of starters. Large fried chicken strips and meat, cheese and spinach sambousak were served on a bed of plain tortilla chips with a bowl of pink sauce that tasted like something in between seafood sauce and thousand island dressing.

Though the KFC-like chicken strips were large and not in any way greasy as one might have anticipated, they had no seasoning whatsoever. Another small gripe we had was the fact that they served three of these chicken pieces to our dinner party of two. Four would have been more appropriate for two people.

Each type of sambousak was creatively shaped, and provided us with varying contentment. There was no more than a lick of cheese used, the minced meat didn’t taste fresh and the spinach was a little dry. On top of this, they were served a little cold, although the pastry itself was crisp but soft, and hearty in taste.

A quattro fromage pizza cost us 31.95LE, and although it was perfectly edible, nothing about it justified its price. It’s just about big enough to share between two, but the base was heavy and dense, and not as light as a thin-pan pizza should be. In all fairness, though, cheese lovers will enjoy this; the combination of four cheeses was spot on.

Trattoir’s location is both convenient and undermining. The hustle and bustle of Gamaat El Dowal Street and Sphinx Square is far from welcoming or comforting. Even the clumsy looking fountains lined across the front became irritating, as they splashed us while we sat by. We can only imagine that the excessively loud music, more suitable for a club than a lounge, was an attempt to drown out traffic. It just made things worse.