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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Little Shop Around the Corner: New Café & Pastry Shop in Zamalek
We won’t keep going on and on about new places opening up in Zamalek because we might just lose our breath doing it. More and more venues are popping up and honestly, it’s pretty cool. So, for now, let us focus on the café and pastry shop Little Shop Around the Corner on Mahmoud Azmy Street.
Mostly orange and black, the décor is quite modern and bit stark. Literally a little shop, it has a small counter looking out onto the street with about three or four stools to sit on. Two blackboards on the wall by the cashier list the available items and their prices, while a long counter holds the cashier, a display fridge and their baked goods.
Little Shop Around the Corner offers a large selection of breakfast and midday snacks that include sandwiches, salads, quiche, muffins, pies, cookies and more. Catering to the morning commuters, the café has a selection of coffees such as Macchiato (10LE), latte (16LE) and white coffee (5LE) – they offer soya milk too. They also have milk shakes where a medium one will cost you 16LE and a large one 20LE.
The sandwich choice includes varieties such as an egg salad (18LE), smoked beef with cheese or tuna with cream cheese (22LE). Salads included a creamy pasta salad, a green salad and a chicken with pineapple one (24LE). Apart from the typical café friendly dishes, the Little Shop Around the Corner also offers sausage rolls and what they call ‘hand pies’ with cheese (10LE), meat (14LE) or vegetable (11LE) fillings. There are pretzels and Laugen bread for 5LE and a large selection of sweet snacks including cookies (8LE), puff pastries with apple filling and spice cake.
Wanting to try a little bit of everything we eventually settled on the tuna sandwich, pasta salad, cheese quiche and banana bread. The sandwich came in a firm, dense sort of baguette that tasted fresh but might have fared better with a strong cheese. The tuna mix itself was good, but if you don’t like onions than this sandwich is not for you. The quiche’s cheese filling was tasty and satisfactory but its crust was a little on the doughy side.
The pasta salad looked tempting with a mix of orecchiette pasta, red beans, peppers and cheese in a mayonnaise sauce. While the ingredients are a good combination, the salad lacked tang and tasted overwhelmingly of cream sauce. The banana bread was well moist and did not disappoint flavour wise.
Going into Little Shop Around the Corner we were rooting for them. There’s something charming about it and how neat and tidy its approach is. We are not at all ready to write it off as ‘not good enough’ because their effort and approach is much appreciated. Considering that they have literally been open a few days, the few tweaks needed to take their dishes to perfection are no doubt around the corner.
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.
Overall, everything was a bit on the heavy side.
Delivery is coming soon!