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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Tchapa Lounge: Simple, No-Nonsense Café in Heliopolis
Made up of two floors, we initially chose to sit upstairs. However, when the promised Wi-Fi wouldn’t work on the top level, we resorted to sitting on the ground floor instead. Sadly, while using the same tones, the interior does not match the chicness of the exterior, or the attention to detail given to it. The layout of the space and the seating arrangement also lack a designer's touch but staff were quick to point out that the café -come-restaurant is to be renovated.
Focusing on the food, the menu offers international cuisine, similar to most venues of this sort. We asked the waiter for recommendations and appreciated his honesty in giving them to us, even though he ‘un-recommended’ certain items as well. In the end we settled on the fettuccine carbonara with salami and tomato slices (38LE), Tchapa beef filet (70LE) with mushroom sauce, sautéed vegetables and basmati rice, as well as spring rolls (31LE) to start.
The spring rolls were a downright mistake. Coming in six pieces, they were fiery hot and lacked in taste and the fillings’ flavour didn’t come through at all – they didn’t seem fresh either. On the other hand, the pasta was delicious. Rich in cream and butter with pieces of salami, it was well-cooked and came served large in portion. The filet was also excellent – albeit a little late to arrive – as were the vegetables and rice. Everything was cooked as per requested, and it's a good, safe dish.
Dessert was a must after our meal and we decided to have some ice cream. At 9LE a scoop, the mango ice cream was creamy, full of flavour and much work had gone into its presentation. Being a café, we tried their Turkish coffee(9LE) and it was made to perfection.
The service was very pleasant and merry, and you can expect to receive five star treatment. Ultimately, there were few true criticisms of the café and we're looking forward to see what their new décor has in store.
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.