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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
L'Aubergine: Infusing Life into the Heliopolis Bar Scene
The neighbourhood of Heliopolis has a lot to offer when it comes to shopping, dining and general comfortable living. Unfortunately, that is more or less where it stops since in terms of nightlife there aren’t too many options. Enter L'Aubergine. Zamalek’s old favourite has extended its reach, all the way to Heliopolis.
The interior of L’Aubergine Heliopolis is fresh and funky keeping with a modern style; large windows look out on the street and open the space up. With seats placed directly by these windows, it’s a novel and enjoyable experience to go out for a drink in Cairo and enjoy the outside view with the occasional tram passing by.
L’Aubergine is divided in two different areas. The first one has a seating area where you can have dinner; the Plexiglas chairs are quirky yet comfortable. The other area, more suitable for just having drinks, is at the bar and includes the area behind it. However, if you choose to sit here you will miss out on the view since you’d be tucked behind a wall.
Apart from beer and wine L’Aubergine only serves non-alcoholic cocktails - though we're told that management is working on bringing hard liquor to the equation. We tried the virgin Bellini (20LE) but were quite disappointed. We’d expected a peachy drink but ended up with bubblegum-infused water. Perhaps for this reason it’s better to stick with a glass of Cape Bay (47LE).
The food menu is extensive, ranging from smaller snacks to full meals. The tomato, mozzarella and basil salad (24LE) was refreshing and came in a relatively big portion; we were especially pleased with the real basil which was in it – often a rarity in Cairo. The mussels with lemon (38LE) were also quite generous in portion and while the mussels themselves were tasty, the lemon was undetectable; some of the mussels were pretty stuck to their shell and were impossible to extract. If you want to try something a bit more exotic, the Yakitori shrimp with pineapple (76LE) is a good option. Drenched in Yakitori sauce, the addition of pineapple makes for a very refreshing dish.
In the evening, L’Aubergine hosts a busy crowd of locals yearning for a drink or a meal. On the weekends it’s best to make reservations. The staff are accommodating but were a bit slow when it came to the drinks, whereas the food on the other hand was served quite swiftly.
If you’re in the area and are looking for a safe place to grab a drink or snack, then L’Aubergine, just like its Zamalek counterpart, will most likely hit the spot.
On Gezira El Wosta Street in Zamalek, Jazz Mate offers the full package. With jazz music playing throughout the day, you are welcome to feast your ears as well as your appetite on their food and beverage menu. Next to the Flamenco hotel, the place is small and is primarily adorned in deep black and brown finishes.
Welcomed with the slogan ‘Put a Little Jazz in Your Life’, the space is divided into two floors. The lower level has a few tables, a counter overlooking the street, the kitchen and a television that plays old black and white videos of old jazz musicians. A small flight of stairs takes you to the upper floor which is where live performances take place every weekend. A few tables fill the space as well as a piano, speakers, microphone and other musical equipment. This area stretches to carry some more tables as well as sofa seating. Black and white photographs cover the walls with images of famous jazz musicians to complete the overall look.
The food menu at Jazz Mate offers breakfast, sandwiches, salads, soups, main course and a range of beverages, as well as sweet options such as waffles, cheesecake and brownies. We tried the country fried chicken (49LE) and deep fried fish (49LE) which come with two side dishes of your choice. We also ordered a vanilla milkshake (20LE) which came first. With the right amount of sugar, it was a little watery but good nonetheless.