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Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.
Nomad: Dokki’s Rooftop Watering Hole
The name ‘Nomad’ implies that you might just pass through, but this Cairo rooftop bar is a fine place to kick back in for a while. Located on the top floor of the King Hotel in Dokki, Nomad serves food and drinks, and is a perfect spot for a relaxed evening after you’ve finished your daily commute.
Although it doesn't have a Nile view, Nomad’s panorama is still a satisfying skyline. Unfortunately, the entire area is roofed and the balcony’s edge is quite high, so you don’t get the full wind-in-your-hair breeze that you’d expect. However, the air is still considerably fresher when you’re ten floors above the streets below.
Nomad’s decor is simple yet comfortable. Sturdy outdoor furniture is covered by thick red cushions, and potted plants spread throughout the space, adding some always-appreciated greenery.
The bar is not known for its superior service. It may take some effort to get the attention of the server, and you may have to wait a while for your drink or shisha. However, if you are not in a rush and don’t mind hearing the same Madonna song a few times before someone notices and changes the track; Nomad is a decent place to hang out with friends, have a few beverages and maybe a small meal.
The highlight of the Nomad experience was the impressively cold drinks. A bottle of chilled Sakkara (17LE) is presented with a properly frosted mug. The glass of Grand Marquis White (27LE) is poured to the very top, and so cold that condensation builds on the outside of the glass. Such details are not to be taken for granted in an outdoor bar in Cairo.
In general, the food was tasty: a plate of chicken with mushrooms (38LE) was served with both white and cinnamon rice, which was an odd pairing, but had a nice flavour on its own. The mushrooms and cream sauce were also warm and comforting; but the chicken suffered from a few hard bits and was a slight turn-off.
We recommend sticking with the lighter fare, especially the fried halloumi appetiser (22LE). This modest yet filling plate features two slices of French bread smothered with melted kashkaval and fried halloumi, dusted with pepper and accompanied by thick slices of deliciously juicy tomato and French cucumber. Paired with icy drinks, this turned out to be quite a perfect summer treat.
Jewel of the Zamalek crown, the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino never ceases to dazzle, offering rich oriental vibes with a refined twist, especially this year with the hotel’s fancy Ramadan kheima, Som3a Basha.
A play on Khedive Ismail Pasha, who built the castle for a French Empress, the theme of the kheima is that of a castle setting with all its luxury coupled with the authentic feel of Egyptian street food served from carts and vendors.
As we walked past the Marriott Promenade Garden leading to the tent, we were struck by a surprisingly beautiful cool weather in dry July – a promising start to the night.
As we stepped inside, we were immediately taken by the elegant ambiance, stylish lanterns, beautiful castle inspired décor and smiling waiters.
We picked a table with a good view of the stage, and waited patiently for the Sohour buffet to begin (10.30PM). As we waited, we were offered the drinks Karkade (Hibiscus) and Tamr Hindy (Dates). The Karkade was bold in flavour, and tartness, and despite being slightly warm, it was refreshing. The Tamr Hindy was easy on the sugar and had a pleasing hint of bitterness that complimented it.
The live Takht show began soon after and we were transported – there was just something about the atmosphere, the spirit, the music and the night that made us forget how hungry we were.
When we did remember how hungry we were, and the buffet opened, we headed on over to check it out. All the food, except for the salads and desserts, was served in authentic street-carts with a kitschy, yet classic Egyptian feel to them.
We took a stroll down the aisle where the carts were, and had a good look at everything before we decided what to dive into. The buffet ranged from falafel and eggs, to grilled kofta and chicken. The salad selection consisted of assorted vegetables, dressings and yoghurt and though the selection provided no surprises, the food was quite flavoursome and we went back for seconds – of course.
No Ramadan sohour would be complete without shisha and we opted for Grape and Peach (30LE each). In terms of quality, both were bold and distinct, though the grape was a bit too harsh for our taste. In terms of coal maintenance, however, you’ll need to be patient – on the busier nights, the shisha attendants, are somewhat overwhelmed.
Then, as we started to feel a bit peckish, we went back for dessert and were met with a large selection of fruits and sweet Ramadan delights, our favourite of which was the Zalabya cart. You might have to time your dessert excursions, though, with the desserts quickly getting cold in the breezy weather.
Overall, the aura and the entertainment at Som3a Basha were delightful and, although not faultless, the Marriott has made good use of its space.