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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Bar D'O: A Little Taste of New York in Zamalek
Newly opened Bar D’O is located inside the President Hotel, underneath the cocktail haven that is Amici. The name has already become the butt of many a joke. For instance, run the name through Google and you’ll end up with a video of a New York drag queen show. Plus, some Cairene’s have event taken to pronouncing it like the word ‘bardo’ – meaning ‘also’. However, step inside and you’ll find pictures of Brigitte Bardot on a chalkboard-menu and everything begins to make sense.
The bar is inspired by the Meatpacking District in New York and is designed using a distinct warehouse style. Red brick walls, exposed piping and minimal decoration are the main aesthetic features. The menu at Bar D’O is still under development so for the time being the chalkboard is where you can browse your options.
Bar D’O offers a variety of cocktails such as sangrias, mojitos and bellinis which are all served in jugs and jars; adding a twist to their presentation. Although all cocktails are 90LE, the jars are almost 700ml. The mojito served at Bar D’O might be one of the best we’ve had in Cairo. It had the perfect combination of sweetness and mint. However, the drink could have used another shot of rum.
In keeping to the theme, they also offer the New Yorker cocktail which is a mix of whiskey, Red Bull, orange and cranberry juices. Even non-whiskey fans would devour this drink within five minutes. The New Yorker tastes sweet with a hint of sourness coming through every now and then. However, once again the alcohol was a bit lost.
The Long Tail cocktail is a concoction of tequila, cranberry juice and orange zest. Where the other cocktails lacked in alcohol this one had it in abundance. In fact, it was too strong to drink and it was only after the ice melted that we were able to work it down.
Bar D’O also has a food menu with lots of options. The shrimps with olive and lemon (70LE) make for a perfect little snack. Beware of the shrimp though as they are drenched in oil will drip everywhere if you’re not careful- especially when you’re tipsy.
We found the staff to be very pleasant and attentive; our drinks and food were served fast and the staff had sufficient knowledge of their menu – which is a rarity in Cairo. We definitely see ourselves returning to Bar D’O for afternoon drinks and snacks.
With many of the most frequented bars in Cairo located in the city's international chain hotels, the lesser-known inns are understandably overlooked when it comes to nightlife. However, such hotels develop a certain, charm while enduring the test of time, and manage to establish themselves as the city's best kept secrets.
Located on the corner of Tahrir Street in Dokki, El Tonsy Hotel boasts a rooftop café-bar that has grown in popularity as a result of its moderate prices and magnificent Nile view. Stepping out of the elevator on the 18th floor, visitors must walk through what appears to be the venue's shisha storage space, before reaching the terrace. The view is undoubtedly the highlight of the place and it certainly provides relief from the immediately obvious shortcomings of Brown Lounge.
Requesting a menu, the waiter handed us a flimsy and greasy booklet which appeared to be on the verge of collapsing into single pages.
The menu seemed full of a wide variety of meals including cheese burgers (14LE), beef or chicken shawerma (11LE-18LE) and taamia (7LE). Salads include green (9LE), Greek (12LE), chicken Caesar (14LE) and an assortment of local dips (6LE/each). The menu also offers a variety of tagines, along with meat and chicken platters.
At first, we were intending to order lentil soup (10LE) and stuffed vine leaves (14LE). However, we were visited numerous times by the waiter to be told that these, and the majority of other options, were in fact unavailable. Spring rolls (11LE) were recommended to us, and we opted for Arabiata pasta (14LE), with penne rather than spaghetti.
With local beers (15LE) and a small selection of wines readily available, it appears food is rarely ordered at Brown Lounge, with most patrons opting for a good drink and smoke by the Nile view instead. Rather than alcohol, we finished our meal with an enjoyable cup of green tea (8LE).
The simple dishes of pasta and spring rolls took almost an hour to arrive; unfortunately, the long wait came to no avail. The pasta was both undercooked and chewy whilst the red sauce topping was tasteless and overly salted. Generously sized, the four, large spring rolls were stuffed with carrots and lettuce, and although the better of the two dishes, they would have benefitted from a dipping sauce of sorts. But in the end, this is a bar, and we're always grateful for cheap beer.
Brown lounge is evidently not a place best suited to fill an empty stomach. However, if you’re ever in the mood to enjoy a relaxing drink with a gorgeous view, this is the place to be.