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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Royal Bakery: Fresh, Homely Baked Goods at Dokki Café
The concept of freshness often passes over the heads of many a cairo café owner. In Dokki, however, the smell of fresh, steaming coffee welcomed us into the little room that is Royal Bakery. Although it stocks traditional Arabic treats, the café feels more like a Barvarian lodge married to a Ye Olde England pub; whatever its origins, the atmosphere of dark wood and hanging lanterns make this a homely place to start the day.
The bakery prides itself on making quality and fresh baked goods, as well as being a fine chocolatier, which sells dainty gift boxes and extravagant desserts. They even have real chocolate Easter eggs if anyone is still looking.
The menu begins by offering royal breakfast, which comes with fresh juice, a royal croissant, toast, a selection of condiments, eggs, and tea or coffee – all for 18LE. However, this choice was not available at the time of our visit, so we ordered the not-so-king-sized breakfast made up of a cheese croissant (9LE) and mocha coffee(15LE), alongside a cheese and beef roll (21LE) with a latte(15LE).
The croissant tasted buttery and had a tender, soft inside with a light and crispy outer crunch; inside, the cheese was a strong Emmental, which oozed of European finesse. Everything about the cheese and beef sandwich tasted fresh, and we were ecstatic to have finally tracked down a good bread roll in the city. It was light and soft, tasting like it was fresh out the oven that morning. The sandwich fillings were delicious, and made for a tasty combination, as the strong cheese was accentuated by the smoky sliced beef. All of the salad ingredients were also crisp and flavoursome.
Our mocha coffee was a rich with a cocoa mixture – obviously made by the hands of real chocolatiers – although the chocolate did somewhat overpower the coffee flavours, while the latte also suffered from being a bit on the milky side.
The menu offers a modest selection of sandwiches and salads with nothing too fancy to ruin the home cooked stylings of the place. All sorts of pastries are on display throughout the shop so that diners can choose anything from a humble bread roll to fancy fruit pastry. All the goods are baked on site and if you were in any doubt as to Royal Bakery's authenticity, a flour-smattered baker in his tall chef's hat will pop his head around the door every so often for added assurance.
The drinks menu is also simple, but offers plenty of flavoured syrups to add a little something to your morning coffee.
This is a real rival to Paul, which seems to run the bread market in most cities in this hemisphere. Royal Bakery provides a homely alternative to other such restaurant's chic sophistication, although its goods are just as extravagant and delicious.
With Brew & Chew satisfying the cravings of Maadi residents, and Dip n Dip spreading their fantastic desserts in New Cairo, Nasr City and 6 of October City, the sweet-toothed of Zamalek can be forgiven for feeling a little neglected – that is until now. Chocolate by name, chocolaty by nature, Joe’s Chocolate Bar on Taha Hussein Street could be the answer to every chocaholic’s dreams.
As a venue, Joe’s Chocolate Bar is divided into two floors; the top floor has nothing remarkable about it but allows smoking, while the ground floor is where the ‘chocolate is. Besides the melted chocolate-like decoration on the wall (which is installed upside down, so instead looks like chocolate waves) the calm lighting and wood walls create a relaxing and cosy ambiance to the place.
The items on the menu are limited and nothing grabbed our attention, but we opted for the Molten Chocolate Cake (47LE), Triple Chocolate Crepe (41LE) and their new special item – as the waiter was so keen to mention – Oreo Waffle (49LE).
The molten chocolate cake had a bold chocolate flavour and a very moist texture; the gooey centre had a fantastic pudding-like consistency, which shows that it was cooked to perfection and, overall, the dessert had a spot-on sweetness. On the other hand, we would have preferred that the ice cream was served separately, because the hot temperature of cake melted it quickly and made the top of the cake rather soggy.
The triple chocolate crepe was just as good, meanwhile; coming as three thin, light and fluffy triangular servings, each one was filled with a generous amount of melted milk chocolate, and drizzled with white, milk, and dark chocolate. We also asked for fruit (10LE) on the side which consists of mini cubes of kiwi, bananas, and strawberries, and it was surprisingly fresh even though it’s not strawberry season yet.
As for the Oreo waffle, we expected nothing more than a waffle with crushed Oreo on top, but, impressively, the waffle itself had an actual layer of Oreo in the middle. Despite the waffles needing a little more milk chocolate on top and being a bit chewy, they were largely soft with a slightly crispy exterior, and the flavour of the Oreo popped in every single bite.
Joe’s Chocolate Bar definitely impressed with their well-executed desserts and big flavours, but we felt that the variety on the menu is too safe and a bit limited for a dessert specialist. We’d very happily come back for the molten chocolate cake, though.