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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Little Shop Around the Corner: New Café & Pastry Shop in Zamalek
We won’t keep going on and on about new places opening up in Zamalek because we might just lose our breath doing it. More and more venues are popping up and honestly, it’s pretty cool. So, for now, let us focus on the café and pastry shop Little Shop Around the Corner on Mahmoud Azmy Street.
Mostly orange and black, the décor is quite modern and bit stark. Literally a little shop, it has a small counter looking out onto the street with about three or four stools to sit on. Two blackboards on the wall by the cashier list the available items and their prices, while a long counter holds the cashier, a display fridge and their baked goods.
Little Shop Around the Corner offers a large selection of breakfast and midday snacks that include sandwiches, salads, quiche, muffins, pies, cookies and more. Catering to the morning commuters, the café has a selection of coffees such as Macchiato (10LE), latte (16LE) and white coffee (5LE) – they offer soya milk too. They also have milk shakes where a medium one will cost you 16LE and a large one 20LE.
The sandwich choice includes varieties such as an egg salad (18LE), smoked beef with cheese or tuna with cream cheese (22LE). Salads included a creamy pasta salad, a green salad and a chicken with pineapple one (24LE). Apart from the typical café friendly dishes, the Little Shop Around the Corner also offers sausage rolls and what they call ‘hand pies’ with cheese (10LE), meat (14LE) or vegetable (11LE) fillings. There are pretzels and Laugen bread for 5LE and a large selection of sweet snacks including cookies (8LE), puff pastries with apple filling and spice cake.
Wanting to try a little bit of everything we eventually settled on the tuna sandwich, pasta salad, cheese quiche and banana bread. The sandwich came in a firm, dense sort of baguette that tasted fresh but might have fared better with a strong cheese. The tuna mix itself was good, but if you don’t like onions than this sandwich is not for you. The quiche’s cheese filling was tasty and satisfactory but its crust was a little on the doughy side.
The pasta salad looked tempting with a mix of orecchiette pasta, red beans, peppers and cheese in a mayonnaise sauce. While the ingredients are a good combination, the salad lacked tang and tasted overwhelmingly of cream sauce. The banana bread was well moist and did not disappoint flavour wise.
Going into Little Shop Around the Corner we were rooting for them. There’s something charming about it and how neat and tidy its approach is. We are not at all ready to write it off as ‘not good enough’ because their effort and approach is much appreciated. Considering that they have literally been open a few days, the few tweaks needed to take their dishes to perfection are no doubt around the corner.
Remember when Cairo was crazy for cupcakes? Nola was one of the first and main names behind the trend; but as with all trends, people can quickly get tired of them – something that has seen Nola introduce cheesecake, brownies, and cronuts to their menu over the years and this year, they’ve added even more
Nola’s newest items has seen the bakery introduce mini sandwiches, chocolate stones, truffles, cake pops, mini lava cakes and Belgian hot chocolate, though not everything was available when we paid the Mohandiseen branch a visit.
We started our way to out sugar coma with a Mini Chocolate Volcano Cake (27LE); a chocolate cake that’s cooked and served in a bowl, with a valley in the centre that’s filled with thick chocolate pudding, before it’s all dusted with cocoa powder. Despite the very basic, un-Nola presentation, the cake had a great spongy texture and handled the luscious melted chocolate pudding perfectly, while the cocoa powder reduced the overall sweetness to a nice balance.
We also tried the white chocolate version (28LE), but found that it wasn’t exactly what was promised. What should have been a white chocolate cake had no white chocolate flavour whatsoever, but the white chocolate shavings on top and the melted white chocolate pudding pool in the middle took care of that. Although it was overly sweet compared to the other one, there was a little bit more to the flavours and textural contrast.
For many, two cakes would be more than enough sugar intake for one day, but we also left the shop with a Chocolate Pop (9LE) and a Red Velvet Pop (8LE). Wrapped in a plastic cover with a mini bowtie, and served on a lollipop stick, the chocolate pop was moist chocolate cake with a fudgy texture, coated with chocolate shell. We enjoyed the flavours, but we’ve tried better in Cairo and there was nothing remarkable about it.
The red velvet pop had a different problem, though; the red velvet cake is coated in red velvet chocolate and had a very strong artificial flavour, which most likely came from the red chocolate shell or the red food colouring in the cake.
We also tried Nola’s hot chocolate (12.50LE) from the serve-yourself station and it’s possibly the best we’ve tried in a long time. Made with Belgian chocolate, it boasts bold flavour and a perfect thick consistency, too.
We’ve come to consider Nola as the maker of the cutest and most colourful cupcakes in town, but the new items don’t follow suit on that front. Luckily, the items we were able to try made up for it when it came to the most important thing flavour. The new items are fun, varied and ever so chocolaty.