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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Tornado: Average Contender on Mohandiseen's Packed Café Scene
If there’s one thing that Cairo is not short of; it’s cafés. And people of course. The Mohandiseen area is especially packed with cafés, and Tornado is located on Aswan Square, which is easily reachable from Gameat El Dowal Street, The building looks like a an Alpine Red Cross hut and you half expect a Beethoven-style dog to run out of it any second.
The Alpine theme continues inside with big posters showing snowy mountaintops and luscious flower fields. It doesn’t look it from the outside, but the venue is pretty big. The rest of the décor is very sombre, with dark wooden seats and tables, and several televisions are dotted around which were broadcasting Arabic music channels at the time of our visit. The interior is pretty peculiar because one side is a glass window closet filled with fake flowers and one lonely disco ball hangs from the ceiling looking pretty dusty, and not one bit shiny.
The menu is quite extensive but doesn’t differ a lot from most cafés. Notable appetizers include calamari and chicken quesadilla and start from 21LE. There are several salads; starting from 14LE for a Caesar salad, ranging up to 30LE for a salmon salad. There are various pasta dishes on offer starting from 25LE and pizzas from 20LE. Main courses such as grilled chicken will set you back 40LE, whereas the Tornado seafood combo is 80LE.
We visited in the morning, so opted for a cheese omelette (13LE) and a cappuccino (12LE). The omelette was served with pieces of white toast and a cup of olives. On top of the omelette we found grated cheese which we were grateful for because there wasn’t much cheese in the omelette itself. Overall, it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t knock our socks off, and was no better than any amateurish attempts this reviewer had made at home. The cappuccino was surprisingly good; firm foam on top and strong coffee underneath.
The staff stayed pretty much away from us and were friendly when we did speak to them. The toilet was a bit of a miss, though. The person cleaning it obviously works with the motto ‘if it’s wet, then it’s clean’. Not only did the floor resemble an Alpine stream, but the toilet and the sink were also wet which was very uncomfortable to say the least.
Overall Tornado lacks ambience and looks like it was hit with an actual tornado. However, for a cheap breakfast or cup of coffee it’s ok if you happen to live or be passing nearby.
Coffee, Java, Joe – no matter what you call it, we can all agree that a cup of it can make or break your day. Coffee houses like Starbucks and Costa have been on the top of the coffee game with a branch on almost every corner, and people have been flocking there for their coffee every time; but now there’s a new player in town.
Turkey-based coffee house, Espresso Lab, has arrived to Egypt, at Point 90 Mall New Cairo to be exact, offering you the unique opportunity to play mad scientist in creating the ideal coffee for you.
With a rustic, industrial aesthetic, Espresso Lab offers a relaxing and inviting environment with mostly wooden seats besides giving off a friendly vibe, it’s a great place for studying, working, or just lounging around drinking your cup of Joe.
The venue is of the self-service variety, where there are two bars each with their own set of features; the first has your typical large espresso machine, with an assortment of both savoury and sweet items and some cold drinks, while the other is where the ‘lab’ part comes in.
We picked up one of their signature cold brew coffee (30LE) from the main bar, which came in a small glass bottle reminiscent of a glass whiskey flask; the coffee itself was pure concentrated coffee devoid of any additions which had a strong flavour and a slightly acidic aftertaste.
For something from the other side of the spectrum, we had some hazelnut hot chocolate (32LE), which had a sweet, rich texture with a good amount of foam on top, and hazelnut providing a nutty aftertaste.
Looking into their assortment of sandwiches, we opted for the roast beef (35LE). Heated in a toaster oven, it had warm crunchy bread that contrasted with the melted gooey cheese in the middle perfectly, which in turn complemented the earthy roast beef slices and the addition of the tangy pickles and mayonnaise.
To satisfy our sweet tooth, we ordered the chocolate (40LE) and raspberry (40LE) cheesecakes; despite the rather small slices, they both had a rich heavy texture, which made them well worth the price. The chocolate had a creamy, smooth taste, while the raspberry had a slightly tangy aftertaste that complimented the coffee flavoured crust on both of them.
We then moved to the espresso bar, where you can choose one of six different coffee beans – to be made in one of six different ways, including everything from French press and Chemex, to Aeropress and cold brew. The options allow you to adjust everything from the sweetness to the acidity of your coffee and we went for the Syphon (27LE).
With a smooth texture without the strong aftertaste, the coffee had a nice sweetness to it without being too watered down; we opted for some Irish syrup as well as some steamed milk to turn it into a latte which only enhanced the beverage even more.
Espresso Lab provides one of the most unique customisable coffee experiences you can find in the capital; as well as being great place for to grab a quick coffee and bite to eat, it’s also place where coffee snobbery is more than welcome!