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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Avenue: Newcomer on the Cairo Restaurant & Bar Scene
When you want to go for a night out in Cairo, it is usually a safe bet to visit one of the boats located in Zamalek. One of them is the Imperial Boat, which hosts three venues. There is Purple downstairs, Mojo on one side of the top deck and newcomer Avenue on the other side. Unfortunately, it seems that the recently opened Avenue still has a long way to go until it becomes a household name on the Cairo nightlife scene.
Upon entering Avenue, you will be struck by the venue's bright white and silver setting. The trendy and funky ambience is obviously aimed at bringing in a young crowd. There are couches that you can settle down on and some high and low tables. The seating area is very spacious and suitable for large groups. The music playing at the time of our visit was Om Kalthoum, which was slightly odd; in this modern atmosphere, you wouldn’t expect classical Arabic music to burst from the speakers.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit, we were immediately confronted with Avenue’s biggest problem; there were no other patrons. According to the bartender, the venue has been very quiet up until now with only two busy nights so far. However, Avenue does deserve a chance; so we settled down at the bar.
The drinks menu consists of a variety of cocktails, champagnes, shots, martinis and regular beers and wines. Most of the cocktails are well-known classics except perhaps for the peculiar Facebook Martini. The drink is a cocktail of Martini, blue Curacao and milk. This blue and white combination might look tempting on paper but when actually presented in a glass, it becomes a strange, creamy, blue mixture. The bartender is not really to blame for this; it is more likely due to the strange recipe itself.
The bartender was very enthusiastic and created a drink that was not listed on the menu. It was a variation on a Tom Collins cocktail but with milk added: it was only ok, but for 40LE we can’t complain.Cocktail prices start at 40LE, which would be very reasonable if the drink itself was gratifying.
A Stella beer will set you back around 30LE, which is quite expensive considering the small size of the bottle. The whiskey sour was a bit too sour for this reviewer’s liking, and when ordering a whiskey on the rocks, the new drink was poured into the same glass. Avenue also offers shisha with regular flavours, starting from 25LE. You can have your shisha while relaxing on one of the couches or while sitting at the bar.
The cuisine served at Avenue is mainly Middle Eastern with some French and Italian dishes. When we inquired about the roumalade sauce served with the calamari 28LE, none of the waiters seemed to know what it was. Finally, we were told it was lemon sauce, but when the calamari arrived, it was presented with chili sauce instead. The crème brûlée (24LE) was served oddly before the appetisers. It tasted rather mealy and lacked enough vanilla flavour.
Avenue has a great location with nice Nile views and has the potential of becoming a good restaurant and bar. The staff is very friendly and eager, but they failed at blending a decent drink for us during our visit and seemed to have no knowledge about their own menu. Perhaps if some adjustments were made, Avenue could become a nice hangout spot to have a drink and a bite while watching the Nile river flow by.