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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Nola: More Cupcakes in Cairo, Hurrah!
Here’s yet another reason why living in Zamalek is awesome if you have a sweet tooth! Located on the always busy Brazil Street just off of 26th of July Street is Nola, a quaint and elegant little cupcake shop with charming decor and sweet desserts. Though it’s definitely not the first pastry shop in Zamalek to sell cupcakes (you’ve got Loolie’s and Sugar N Spice in walking distance), it is the first to devote itself entirely and completely to cupcakes.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit, the cupcakes are sold in two sizes, a tiny bite-size and a large size, which– quite honestly– is not as large as we had hoped it would be. The cupcakes are arranged in a glass display shelf on one side of the shop, while the other side holds a chalkboard with the menu list written out in coloured chalk. Nola’s interior is painted in Robin’s Egg blue with elegant floor tiles, white chandeliers and two white high-top tables in the centre for you to wait at while your order is being prepared.
The upper level is completely devoted to the in-house oven and baking section, where a new batch of cupcakes is consistently being baked. So, if they’ve run out of your favourite flavour; be sure to ask when their next batch will be ready: it could be a matter of minutes.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit; the following cupcake flavours were available: chocolate, peanut butter, blueberry, apple, vanilla, carrot, coconut, red velvet and lemon meringue. Prices range from 8.50LE for the vanilla cupcake all the way up to 12LE for the quite extravagant chocolate cupcake.
The cupcakes are all so prettily arranged and decorated; you almost feel bad taking your first bite. Biting into the little treat, you’ll find that the cake’s texture is lovely and chewy with just the right consistency of fluffiness. In some cases such as the vanilla (8.50LE) and carrot cupcakes (11LE), the icing is just a little too creamy; as we prefer ours to be thick and heavy.
Some flavours are also a little too vague; it was difficult to figure out if our cupcake sample was carrot or banana, especially since the cake itself tasted more like banana cake and the icing had too much butter. The lemon meringue (11LE) and coconut cupcakes (9LE) brought interesting twists to the traditional flavours, but while they were sweet and pretty; they were nothing special to write home about.
The red velvet (10.50LE) is decorated with a picturesque, fluffy cake texture, though its cream cheese icing overpowers the cake’s flavour. The chocolate cupcake (12LE) has a rich, creamy chocolate icing that complements the rich chocolate cake.
All in all, the cupcakes at Nola are sweet, pretty and daintily decorated: they’re the perfect gift to bring to a ladies’ afternoon tea or an elegant birthday party. Their moderate sizes and so-so flavours stop them from becoming our all-time favourite desserts in Cairo; but since this is only the shop’s opening week, we see great potential in Nola’s future.
At first glance, some Cairo cafes seem to have it all; good atmosphere, design, location and overall outlook. Then, when you actually decide to give them a go, you end up with unprecedented disappointment.
Located in a quiet street in the Sheikh Zayed, Kahve grabs attention with its Turkish name and seemingly chilled atmosphere. The place is adequately-sized, with both outdoor and indoor seating available, and despite being full at the time of our visit, it still retained a relaxing ambiance; perfect for reading a book by yourself, or going on a casual date.
We asked a waiter if there were any tables available and he, right away, began arranging one for us. Our menus were laid in front of us and we began our search for something to order. The menu’s not huge in terms of variety, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Kahve offers hot beverages (15.50LE-21LE), mostly coffee-based, of which the Nutella Turkish Coffee (16.50LE) was the most striking. Some cold shakes, cocktails and smoothies were also offered (19LE-29.75LE). As for food, we spotted some savoury items including basic sandwiches, croissants with fillings (11.50LE), pizza and crepes (25.75LE). Some desserts are also offered, including chocolate fondant (29.75LE), waffles (15.75 LE), tarts, muffins, cookies and donuts. The final item on the menu was the shisha, of course, which comes in all sorts of flavours and varieties (20LE-30LE).
The true beginning of the end came with us placing our order. Our waiter, quite surprisingly, did not recognise several items on the menu. He then proceeded to deny our request for Salami pizza claiming that the only pizza toppings available were Hotdog, mushrooms and cheese. Quite baffled, and slightly annoyed, we opted for a Hotdog Pizza and a Cheese Lover’s Pizza (27.75LE each), green tea, water and the Chocolate Lover’s dessert (30LE).
A whopping forty-five minutes later, our table was just as empty as it had been when we first arrived. Our pizzas and Chocolate Lovers dessert only arrived after we had asked for them three times, and our green tea and water came after we had to remind the waiter that we had, in fact, asked for them two times. The pizzas were quite small in size, thin, crisp and laden with cheese; totally delicious, but not particularly filling. The same, however, cannot be said for the dessert, as it lacked an adequate amount of ice cream and chocolate sauce, had none of the nuts it claimed to have on the menu, and the brownie itself tasted quite stale.
All in all, it’s a shame Kahve, with its lovely setting, fell so badly in the service department. Sure the pizzas were scrumptious, but they sure weren’t worth the wait. The Chocolate Lovers dessert was a total disaster and our waiter completely forgetting our order was quite a nuisance.