Situated on a small side street off Brazil Street in Zamalek, L’Aubergine has been around for ages. A long time ago, in the nineties, the restaurant and bar sported a much more laid back look; the upstairs area had walls wonderfully cluttered with posters, photographs and other memorabilia and the low tables and dark tones spoke the language of a no-nonsense bar. On the other hand, the ground floor was mostly overlooked in comparison. However, with the turn of the century and an infatuation with ‘modern sleek’, the upstairs bar was no less than destroyed, replacing the old with newer, and definitely, shinier furniture. As disappointing as this was, the downstairs area also changed, and thankfully for the better.

The restaurant on the ground floor oozes warmth as you step in. The terracotta coloured walls speckled with purple and deep red illustrations, the ambient lighting and simple furniture invite you to have a relaxed dinner and drinks. Among the bustling conversations, the service is attentive and quick. The menu hasn’t changed much over the years and would especially cater to vegetarians with many interesting non-meat options such as vegetarian couscous (32LE), ricotta/mint ravioli with yoghurt sauce (34LE), pumpkin kobeiba and their known to be delicious mushroom quartet (38LE).

We started with a ruccola and mushroom salad (29LE) and grilled halloumi cheese (32LE). The salad was fresh with big chunks of mushroom and the grilled halloumi had a nice consistency, grilled to perfection, with chopped tomatoes on top that worked very well with the saltiness of the cheese. Bread is served before the meal, and it’s a nice to touch to ask it to be heated.

The chicken teriyaki main course (48LE) was tasty, with a slight kick of spice and tender pieces of chicken lathered in teriyaki sauce. The rice could have been a bit smoother and the sauce a little bit lighter, but overall it was enjoyable. The gnocchi with Bolognese sauce (36LE) was also very good, being well seasoned and full of flavour. However, the gnocchi pieces themselves are quite large and could fill you up rather quickly.

They serve most alcohols at L’Aubergine, with the actual bar placed upstairs, though. A Heineken beer goes for 31LE, and as the most expensive wine, a glass of Ayam Zaman costs 50LE, while a tequila shot is priced at 50LE.

The atmosphere is perfect for Thursday night drinks and a snack, or even a date. The chilled out music makes for a relaxed setting and the overall prices are relatively decent. If you’ve finished your meal and feeling like a little more action, maybe pop up to the upper floor and check out the shiny bar, younger crowds and pumping music. Otherwise, downstairs is the way to go.