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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Caffé Pascucci: A Little Italian Flair Elevates Mall Fare
The long-standing Italian version of Starbucks has made its way across the Mediterranean and it’s a welcome addition to Cairo’s coffee chain scene.
Hiding in a corner of CityStars Mall, the café’s first impression is one of style, albeit mass-produced style, but it stands out nonetheless. Contemporary tables and chairs make for a comfortable break from shopping and feature a crazy 18th-century chandelier with seemingly random Louis XIV chairs posed directly underneath for a more lavish coffee experience– apparently their trademark.
Service was speedy and we were helped by several staff as we chose our lunch, deciding on mango juice, espresso, smoked salmon salad and a beef and mushroom bruschetta pizza. The mango juice was so frighteningly overripe; it was brown. Nonetheless, it tasted good, despite the peel floating inside. The espresso was particularly well-made and it’s reassuring to know the Italians never fail to make their coffee right.
More could be expected from the salmon salad. Though it was tasty, the portion was quite large, with enough salmon but too much lettuce and dressing that had us picking at the capers and tomatoes instead. While the meal was altogether filling, the bruschetta itself was only slightly better than a microwaveable pizza, with its dry, thin bread crust and canned mushrooms.
What was worth our while was their Nutella-filled chocolate crêpe with ice cream, which was amazing and left us feeling happily stuffed. We might venture out to CityStars just for a second round.
Pascucci is a pleasant enough place to take a break and enjoy quiet seating away from conventionally fatty mall food. Funky décor makes it interesting, though at 120LE for a meal for two it’s isn’t a steal; but it might be one of the mall’s cheaper healthy options.
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!