Located across from Pasta Republic on Road 9 in Maadi , Il Pennello Ceramic Café looks like a quaint European coffee house from the outside, with fresh white walls and an airy interior. With its inviting entrance, we expected it to be a lovely spot to get a snack and indulge in our artistic sides.

However, we soon discovered that the food is truly mediocre, a trait that is never all that appealing. Following our afternoon of coffees and ceramics, we deduced that while the ambiance is pleasant, we could not overlook the fact that the menu is average in every way.

The pasta with white sauce and grilled chicken is more coated in a layer of cheese than sautéed in any kind of white sauce, while the afore-mentioned chicken is almost nowhere to be found, besides the few pieces hiding at the very bottom of the bowl. It proved to be a veritable scavenger hunt to find it.

The caprice salad was decent; but the fresh mozzarella looked more like cheddar and the portion was anything but ample, while the garlic bread was fine but really not remarkable. At least the fresh juices were tasty and sweet: the strawberry juice looked almost like a smoothie in its thick texture. Prices here are moderate; expect to pay 25LE for a salad and around 50LE for a main course.

Be sure to stop by the ice cream stand and sample the delightful and unique kiwi ice cream concoction.

The service at Il Pennello is quite fast, attentive and overall better than the food they served, with waiters happy to oblige with any special requests.

The walls are lined with ceramic objects of every shape and size. The selection includes a large hand statue, presumably handy for arranging rings and jewellery on, a soap dish, a duck and so on. Each piece has the price pencilled on, displaying how much it costs to paint your very own pottery piece. Prices generally range from about 30LE to 100LE.

This is how Il Pennello works: you first pick your piece of pottery, and then you get six basic colours of glaze. You can then render whatever master piece or colour combo disaster that you please. A word of caution: you must leave your newly painted piece to be properly dried and fired in a kiln, although the staff promises it will be ready after five days.

The establishment draws a very young crowd, many of which are celebrating their 5th, 6th or maybe 7th birthdays. So no, this is no cool new hotspot for sophisticated conversation.

But for those in search of a little nostalgia– or if you have the kids in tow– get ready to roll up your sleeves, take out the paint brushes and enjoy a cup of coffee while getting creative.