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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Harris Café: Fresh New Look for Popular Heliopolis Café
The doors have been changed from dark wood into glass and there are a couple of tables in the outdoor area after you go up a few steps. With a slight breeze, the outdoor area would be a fantastic choice with its relaxing ambiance and view of a garden.
The place is still unique and chic; its makeover continues to exude a feeling of opulence as you enter.
Inside, there are too many plasma screens for the size of the place. They have photographs hung on the walls of an eclectic range of personalities from around the world including Oprah Winfrey and Mahatma Gandhi. They also have quotes put all over the walls including funny and sarcastic quotes about men in the ladies’ bathroom; we imagine there was one about women in the men's bathrooms too.
Harris Café is also known for its good quality coffee. Their breakfast menu is popular; the continental breakfast comes with coffee, juice or tea; a freshly baked croissant, a mini muffin, jam and fresh yoghurt with honey for only 29LE. You can also choose the ‘wake up’ omelette (26LE) or the banana pancakes (25LE).
Their burgers are delicious and range from 31LE to 35LE depending on the toppings. Appetisers include cheese garlic bread (17LE), crispy chicken (25LE), fried mozzarella (24LE), fried calamari (24LE) and cheesy fries (19LE) that come topped with sharp cheddar flavoured sour cream and herbs.
We had the Trois Beef (58.99LE) which came as three little pieces of filet with mustard, pepper and mushroom sauce. The plate was satisfying but the pepper sauce was spicier than we would have liked, the two other sauces were not bad and the beef itself was pleasingly cooked.
Harris Café’s staff seem to be always in a hurry and seem to be running around all over the place. Since the place is not that big, whenever you need them they'll be there right away.
Keeping up with Cairo’s restaurant scene is as exciting and it is unpredictable and while local restauranteurs compete with new concepts every day, more and more international chains are also trying out their luck on Cairo’s restaurant map.
One of these venues is Classic Rock Coffee Co.; an American coffee house that takes up a space at a restaurant called the Garage at Citystars.
Tucked away beside the tickets office on Citystars’ fifth floor, Classic Rock Coffee Co. shares the same venue with the Garage, which dominates with a biking-themed interior – colourful scattered helmets, biking graffiti on the walls, a full bike at the entrance — while Classic Rock introduces subtle rock music theme, which is mostly shown in its guitar themed banners and guitar pick logos on their menu.
Eager to find out what both venues have to offer, we decided to order our meals from the Garage and trying Classic Rock’s shakes and beverages.
Skimming through the Garage menu –which involves a mishmash of international picks including burgers, pizzas, Chinese and Italian food – we were a little concerned with the restaurant’s lack of identity but we decided to keep it simple with Ninja Fingers (39 LE) as our appetiser and for the mains, we opted for the Garage Burger (39LE) and the Royal Star Burger (39 LE) with a side of Garage Cocktail Fries (19 LE each).
Served as fourbreaded boneless tender chicken strips, the Ninja Fingers had a pleasant golden crunchy outer crust, but as soon as we sliced into it, the breading started to crumble apart or completely fell of as we dipped it into the accompanying honey mustard dip.
Shortly after, our burgers and fries arrived. Served in small bowls, the Garage Cocktail Fries – basically chili cheese fries – were covered with a thin layer of cheese that we had to dig to find the minced beef, while the red beans were nonexistent as if the chef was holding back. Overall, it was a mediocre dish.
A large burger patty stuffed with mozzarella cheese, covered with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and special garage sauce, The Garage burger had an unpleasant stale taste with no presence of any mozzarella stuffing as promised in the menu while the bun didn’t taste special.
The Royal Star burger was a double patty burger with essentially the same toppings as the Garage Burger, with an addition of beef bacon which we requested to give the burger an extra punch; only it didn’t do much as the burger itself had the same stale taste as the one before.
Fortunately, Classic Rock Coffee Co’s milkshakes came in to save the day. The Chocolate Peanut Butter (26LE) was a heavenly piece of art, with a delightful taste of melted chocolate ice cream and a magnificent peanut butter aftertaste that was both delicious and exciting.
The Purple People Eater (26LE) was incredibly refreshing with an amazing blueberry sourness complimented with bananas which worked so well with the overall flavour of the shake.
We sealed the deal with the aptly named Full Tank of Sundae (36 LE); three scoops of vanilla, chcolate and strawberry ice-cream topped which were smooth and quite refreshing even though they were served without the promised chocolate/caramel sauce.
Overall, we had a disappointing experience with the Garage burgers and we feel the place needs more time to elevate the quality of its dishes and figure out the type of restaurant it wants to be. But as far as milkshakes and desserts –which is what we actually came for— Classic Rock Coffee Co. introduces great flavours which definitely redeemed the evening and will make us come again soon for some more.