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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
P.S Café: New Restful Café in Zamalek
Everywhere you look in Cairo there is always a new café opening up and it usually happens at the speed of light. Take P.S Café in Zamalek for instance. Located just off of Brazil Street, P.S Café is fairly secluded from the chaotic traffic on 26th of July Street.
The interior décor is quite funky with dark stone walls and fresh orange detailing. We visited on a sunny morning so we decided to enjoy the weather and sit outside. During the daytime, the outdoor area is quite limited and consists of four or five tables at most. In the evening however, when all the other shops close, the area expands and takes up quite a lot of the pavement; adding more tables. Plants fill the surrounding space and because of the location there is not a lot of direct sun light; so it could be a pleasant refuge on a hot summer day.
The menu at P.S Café isn’t particularly surprising or fascinating. Most of its items are what we see in other cafés such as salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes and crêpes. The menu had the occasional spelling mistake which was fairly amusing. We opted for a mango smoothie (12LE), rocca salad (13LE) and the chicken quesadillas (20LE), as well as an American coffee (10LE).
The smoothies we get here in Cairo are never very good; tasting like very cold juice as opposed to one mixed with milk or yoghurt. The smoothie at P.S Café was no different. It was tasty but it just wasn’t a smoothie- it was more like iced juice. The American coffee was quite strong and definitely gave us the caffeine boost we needed. The rocca salad was quite modest; unfortunately it was made with canned mushrooms instead of fresh mushrooms and with grated roomy cheese instead of Parmesan. We were really looking forward to our chicken quesadillas; however, we were ultimately disappointed. They had too many peppers in them, killing the flavour of the chicken, and for some reason there was dill all over – which really makes no sense. The sour cream was thin and seemed more like milk and once again, there was a lot of dill added.
Though the food didn’t impress, P.S Café is great for a drink. With soft drinks and tea starting at 4LE and coffee at 8LE, it’s very cheap. The view is nothing to boast about but at least the street is quiet.
No matter how many foreign cuisines come to the Cairo restaurant scene, there’s nothing quite like authentic Egyptian food - a sentiment that had us eager to try recently opened Heliopolis eatery, Skalans.
Located in the Sheraton Buildings area, close to Hamada Sheraton – another famous street eats hub in the area serving foul and ta’ameya— Skalans is a small shop with quirky blue garbage cans for chairs and an interior floor designed to look like that of the street. Gaining more popularity by the day, Skalans was already crammed up people at the time of our visit and when we did eventually find seating, we found the chaos left by the people who came to eat before us waiting.
Torn between all the drooling choices in the menu – from liver sandwiches, Alexandrian spicy sausage sandwiches (8.50LE-10.50LE each) and Hawawshi (12LE- 23LE), to pastas (19LE) and spicy meat platters (30LE - 32LE), not to mention some grilled cheese sausages – one of Skalans' specialties (10.50LE) – we finally settled on a medium and a large Hawawshi (12LE and 19LE), an Alexandrian sausage sandwich (8.5LE) and two packs of French fries (5LE each).
Besides our main bites, we wanted to also try the dessert and between Skalans – a sandwich comprised of cream, honey, jam and halva (halawa) – (8.50LE) and a Nutella dessert – halva with nutella –(8.5LE) we opted for the latter.
An hour later, the cashier screamed our number and our food was ready, alongside some complementary pickles. Served in half pita bread portions, our hawawshi was quite tasty; though somewhat greasy, it boasted perfectly seasoned minced meat and good consistency and was surprisingly light.
Smothered in Tehina, chopped vegetables and a mere half a sausage, our Alexandrian sausage sandwich was quite disappointing, on the other hand; lacking the traditional Alexandrian pungent, aromatic seasoning, the sandwich was far from flavourful and actually rather bland.
Despite the unfamiliar mix, our Nutella-halva blend was perfect; surprisingly light, the two flavours actually worked together and managed to be both creamy and light at the same time.
Overall, despite some missteps, such as the slow service and the unnecessary and deafeningly loud music, our visit to Skalans was satisfying enough; just don’t expect your visit to be a relaxing one.