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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
On Toast: Delicious French Toast in Zamalek
Whoever thought that post revolution Egypt wasn’t a good place to open up a new business has been proven wrong by all young entrepreneurs out there starting up new ventures. In Zamalek, there has been a tremendous increase in food and beverage venues. One of the latest to open is On Toast on the intersection of Marashly Street and Taha Hussein Street.
On Toast’s best asset is easily its covered terrace. The wooden chairs are comfy and the view isn’t too bad either. Inside there is an open kitchen where you can see the chef at work. The venue has just four tables and is therefore more appropriate for take away and small groups.
We started off with a strawberry smoothie (17LE) while browsing through the menu. Despite it being 6PM we opted for the On Toast breakfast (35LE), as well as a croque monsieur (28LE) and a shrimp cocktail (35LE). The strawberry smoothie was excellent and was served in a pottery vase, which not only looks very funky but it also keeps the smoothie colder for longer.
We chose scrambled eggs for our breakfast and they came with salmon, sausages, mushrooms and of course toast. The portion of salmon was quite generous and the eggs were well prepared. We had some issues with the sausages though since they were overly spiced; taking away any real taste and the mushrooms were immensely sour for some reason.
The sour flavours didn’t stop there since the shrimp cocktail too had a sour sauce. The sandwiches came in three huge chunks and were generous on the shrimp, however it was really too sour and the taste of the shrimp disappeared in the overwhelming sour bomb. The croque monsieur fared better, however. Thankfully the cheese was grated but unfortunately it wasn’t fully melted, this was probably due to the abundance of cheese. If On Toast would take off some cheese it would be the perfect croque monsieur.
The best part of our meal came in the end when we indulged in the pain perdu (26LE). Pain perdu, also known as French toast, is basically toast soaked in milk and cinnamon after which it gets fried. On Toast serves it with caramelized apples or bananas, where we preferred the latter to the former. Overall it was a delicious dessert that will definitely have us returning to On Toast.
After a hard day's work, there’s often nothing better than putting your feet up and relaxing with a hot drink and a slice of cake. Of course, Cairo’ cafés are second to none, but finding a sophisticated spot, not filled with shisha smoke, can often be somewhat of a challenge. The Coffee Club is amongst an abundance of dining options in newest Tivoli Dome in Sheikh Zayed.
As soon as we entered the dome, we spotted the tranquil fountains and greenery bordering the Coffee Club’s comfortable outdoor seating. The entire front of the café opens up to allow a breeze in, whilst the interior is simple, painted in a timeless deep red and cream. The waiter promptly delivered a couple of menus and much to our surprise, the Coffee Club is not just limited to coffee as its name suggests.
Of course, the coffee and frappe sections are the most diverse; with the options of adding syrups, extra shots, marshmallows, ice-cream and swapping caffeinated to decaffeinated. Flavoured tea, fruit juices, mocktails and all the usual sodas are also available. We settled on one flat white coffee (18LE) and an orange juice (20LE). Both were delivered swiftly, with the flat white sporting an artistic illustration on top of its thin layer of froth. The coffee beans were rich and slightly bitter, made with a good amount of milk. The orange juice was fresh, tangy and bitty, making for a rather sharp thirst quencher.
The food menu was unexpectedly large offering breakfasts of pancakes (25LE), breakfast wraps (32LE), cooked breakfasts (46LE) and fruit salads (20LE) whereas the all day dining menu boasts salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, fish and chips (55LE) surf and turf (99LE), fish and meat dishes including steak (99LE). Also on the menu – and a little out of place – is a selection of Thai dishes, namely curries. We chose to sample cheesy garlic bread (19LE), followed by sweet and sour chicken (75LE).
Both portions were substantial; the garlic bread was made from two slices of thick, soft bread, cut into four large triangles and appeared slightly golden on top. The four-cheese topping added a delicious richness, despite being slightly greasy. Our sweet and sour fried chicken pieces were swimming in a flavourful sauce, which although was not overly wonderful, was neither too sweet nor too sour. The generous mound of white rice in the middle was fluffy and well-cooked.
Their desserts don’t feature on the menu; they must be handpicked from the large glass counter inside the café. From the tempting looking cheesecakes and chocolate mousses, we ended our meal with a big slice of carrot cake (23LE). Unfortunately, the sponge was dry, with a disappointingly thin layer of butter icing on top, and in the middle. The large helping of chantilly cream on the side almost helped curb our disappointment.
Our overall experience was one of relaxation, nice food and friendly service; however, the Coffee Club does over-complicate the notion of coffee and dessert and although we're glad it does, we feel like they would benefit from concentrating more on their 'signature' desserts.