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Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.
Avatar Café: Quiet Getaway in Dokki
For a café that shares its name with a blockbuster high-tech special effects film and a term that Hindus use for the material manifestation of a deity, Avatar Café in Dokki is decidedly low-key. Pleasantly lit and filled with modest beige furniture, this quiet local café is a good place to escape the bustle of Tahrir Street and El Mesaha Square.
Avatar is a small café, with at best a dozen tables surrounded by comfortable lounge chairs and couches. The place is generally clean and tidy and has a very relaxed atmosphere, with the air-conditioning set to an agreeable temperature. The waiters aren't very attentive, you have to wave or yell at them to get their attention. But once you have made them aware of your existence, service is friendly and pretty quick.
The café has two big wide-screen TVs, which make it a good spot for watching football matches and other sports. Unlike most Cairo cafés, the sound of the TVs is usually off or on low volume when there is nothing special on, but if there is something specific you would like to watch, one of the waiters will gladly switch channels and adjust the volume for you. Another good feature Avatar Café offers is a speedy and reliable Wi-Fi internet connection.
The menu at Avatar Café unfortunately offers nothing out of the ordinary. The banana juice (11LE) we had was a bit on the sweet side, even for Egyptian standards. The orange juice (11LE) was surprisingly unsweetened, a rare find in Cairo, and tasted exactly like freshly squeezed oranges should. The cappuccino (10LE) and the latte (10LE) were both weak on coffee flavour. Avatar Café has a wide range off sheesha flavours, from apple to mint to some kind of honey special. We opted for grape (7LE), but were unimpressed by the weak taste.
Aside from hot beverages, juices and sheesha, Avatar Café offers a selection of fruit cocktails and desserts, ranging from 15 to 22 LE. A regular soft drink will set you back 8LE. Apart from ice cream and brownies, there is no food on the menu, but you can bring your own, or have some delivered at the cafe. Avatar Café is unlikely to become your new favourite café based on its menu, but it is an excellent spot to kick back and cool down from the summer heat, and enjoy their speedy Wi-Fi.
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.