One of the most vivid images we associate with an ideal childhood is mama or grandma’s spotless, well-equipped kitchen and, more importantly, the legendary treats she would whip up inside, with their enticing aromas wafting through the house. Who doesn’t appreciate a bite of warm, home-baked chocolate chip cookie straight out of the oven, chased by a glass of cold, cold milk? For those of us who were not as fortunate to have had domestic goddess-like maternal figures when we were kids, Auntie Loulou from Maadi provides a setting in which we can live out our fantasy, this time in Zamalek.

Our visit to Auntie Loulou’s Zamalek home started off strong: a sweet smell drifted out to greet us before we even entered through the doors, and the décor was something out of a fairytale—the place was a manifestation of country shabby chic itself, with red and yellow gingham touches everywhere, including the lampshades, and a harmonious brick and wood interior decorated with painted pots and a doll-sized miniature country cottage and garden display located outside the window by the innermost tables. The setting was something out of a book or a colourful imagination.

Hoping this sensitivity and attention to detail would also encompass the food, we excitedly looked through the menu and decided on the chicken pesto crepe (25LE) and a waffle (23LE) with half-dark chocolate and half-caramel topping per the waiter’s suggestion, as we couldn’t decide between the list of options, which includes Nutella, white chocolate and maple syrup. In addition, we also ordered a passion fruit smoothie (23LE) and a cappuccino (17LE) to accompany.

The chicken pesto crepe aroused our suspicion, as it came to us rolled into a shape that resembled shawerma. But upon first bite, it managed to exceed our expectations; the pesto marinating the generous amount of chicken inside the crepe was truly delicious and there was just the right balance between the pesto and the chicken as well as the cheesy, nutty and basil flavours within the pesto itself. The crepe’s weak point, sadly enough, was the crepe itself; the shell was very thick, closer to that of a thin pancake than a crepe, which rendered its overall texture, as well as the gustatory experience one would expect from a crepe, less decadent. Apart from the filling, the crepe itself tasted almost old.

We thought there must be something wrong with the batter that is used, because the waffle similarly disappointed. The waffle itself was freshly made and immediately brought to us – one half drizzled in dark chocolate, the other in caramel sauce – but it still managed to taste somewhat stale and the texture of the waffle was also soggy.

The drinks were the last straw. The cappuccino was watery and the passion fruit smoothie had stronger pineapple notes than passion fruit, not to mention that it was cloyingly, unpleasantly sweet.

Everything is always better in our imagination and never quite lives up to that which we conjure in our own minds. Auntie Loulou, in conjuring images of sweet country life and simple living and food made with butter and mom’s love, was no exception to this. If you feel like indulging your childhood fantasies in Auntie Loulou’s beautiful interior, you may want to opt for a reasonably fail-proof item, such as the banana split (25 LE) assembled with Movenpick ice cream, instead.