For anyone familiar with Downtown Cairo, Al Americaine on Talaat Harb Square is one of those venues that everyone knows. No doubt we have all seen this restaurant with its bright red neon lights at one time or another. Perhaps you passed it when strolling through the square or when stuck in traffic and you were forced to stare at it for an hour or so.

The interior of Al Americaine is divided into two floors and somewhat resembles an American diner; hence the name. The first floor is home to the open kitchen and cases filled with desserts. There are seats and tables next to the windows, so you can keep an eye on the street outside. Upstairs is a seating place only. Despite its large space, Al Americaine is not crammed with tables. Every table is arranged so that you are not sitting too close to your neighbours.

The menu at Al Americaine is nothing more than a single piece of plasticised paper, with one side in Arabic and the other side in English. It's actually more of a combination of English and French. You’re better off reading the Arabic version though, because many items are missing on the English/French side.

One of the remarkable features of Al Americaine is that you hardly hear any outside noise despite it being located on such a busy intersection. Classic Arabic music like Farid El Atrash songs softly play in the background. Dressed up in classic outfits, the waiters are very friendly and leave you alone most of the time.

The menu at Al Americaine is a mixture of everything. There is Egyptian cuisine, like tehina (8LE) and kabab (28LE), and some international dishes such as spaghetti Napolitano (8LE) and burgers starting at 8LE. The tehina was very tasty and a cut above the average restaurants’. It came with fresh white bread that was quite delicious. The pasta bolognaise (7LE) tasted a lot like typical Egyptian macaroni and the tomato sauce was very well spiced and served in a generous portion. Considering the price, it’s a bargain.

The piccata (45LE) was equally nice; the meat was very flavoursome and tender. The escalope pané (32LE) was good yet slightly overcooked and a little difficult to chew. All meals at Al Americaine are served with salad and fries. All desserts and ice cream are made by the venue itself. We sampled the Al Americaine combo (18LE), which consisted of a scoop of strawberry, chocolate, mango and vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and nuts. The ice cream was very good and had a distinctive creamy texture; you can really taste that it was homemade.

If you want the true Downtown experience, then step into Al Americaine. Their regular customers are locals still holding onto the grandeur that Downtown Cairo once possessed. Al Americaine also has Wi-Fi and you can also have a frappuccino for 11LE. Just look outside and you will be entertained by everything and everyone passing by. And really, the food is actually good.