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Al Azhar, Cairo, Egypt.
Studio Misr: Egyptian Cuisine With a View of Historic Cairo
Located on a high hill in El Azhar Park, Studio Misr offers panoramic views of Cairo, where you can enjoy a traditional Egyptian meal on an expansive terrace with the breathtaking background of the Muhammad Ali Mosque and the Citadel.
Unlike other Studio Misr branches, the restaurant's decor does not mimic that of an Egyptian film studio. Instead, the restaurant consists of a large terrace with various levels that overlook a garden with a series of fountain pools pointing towards the Citadel. The furniture and decor are simple, so as not to detract from the amazing views.
Studio Misr offers the usual array of mezzas (average price 15LE) including hummus, vine leaves, sambousak and grilled halloumi cheese. Alongside the mezzas comes the freshly-baked bread that Studio Misr is famous for.
The main meal options (ranging from 50LE to 120LE) consist of various combinations of grilled chicken, shish tawouk, kofta and kabab served with baladi salad and rice. There is also the option of fatta and mansaf at an average price of 40LE. Because all meals are served in generous portions, we recommend ordering a variety of mezzas and splitting a main dish for two people.
Do not forget to save space for Studio Misr’s dessert. In particular, we recommend the araak el balah. This unique and delicious dessert consists of dates baked with caramel in a flaky pie crust and topped with vanilla ice cream and nuts.
After such a filling meal, enjoy a walk around the park’s premises and stop by the viewing point from where, on a clear day, you can see all three Giza Pyramids on the horizon.
Studio Misr in El Azhar Park is the perfect venue for an afternoon date, family outing or friends gathering, offering a comfortable and picturesque outdoor dining experience in Cairo.
Since opening its first branch in Sheikh Zayed’s Arkan Mall, Baladina has come to foster a reputation for serving truly authentic Egyptian dishes – a reputation that is made all the more impressive when you consider the number of restaurants in Cairo that claim likewise.
The restaurant’s success has led to the opening of additional branches, including one in Maadi’s the Platform, with the most recent finding a home in Beverly Hill’s Westown Hub. The new branch replicates the restaurant’s rural Egyptian aesthetic to a tee; the waiters donning traditional galabeyas is the most striking of the eatery’s trademarks. As a venue, Baladina offers both indoor and outdoor seating as per all of the venues in Westown Hub and as soon as we were seated, we received two menus – one for food and the other for drinks, with the latter offering everything from teas and coffees, to juices, smoothies and even traditional Oriental drinks such as hibiscus, tamarind, et al.
As for the food menu, the set-up is as you’d expect – hot and cold appetisers, salads and soups are available, though the grill and tajin sections are where things get interesting – but let’s rewind.
To begin our meal, we ordered a basic vegetable soup (20LE) – we visited on a particularly chilly day – and rokak with meat (45LE). The soup was, by all intents and purposes, fine; there was nothing to be offended by, but there was absolutely nothing that would pull us to order it again – it was just a very simple, homely soup, though the portion was pleasingly large. The same can be said of the portion size of the rokak; the difference, however, was that we couldn’t enough of it. To those unfamiliar with rokak, it’s essentially a pastry, usually stuffed with minced meat and baked. Said minced meat was seasoned perfectly; it was full of flavour, though if there was one criticism – and it’s a strange one – it’s that there was too much meat and the whole thing was a bit messy to eat, subsequently.
Moving onto the mains, we ordered Circassian chicken (72LE) and a moussaka tajin (35LE), which comes with a side of rice. The former is a dish that uses walnut sauce was nothing short of delicious; the walnut sauce itself was rich and flavourful, while the strips of chicken were cooked to a perfect tenderness. We had few complaints about the mossaka, too; filled with slices of aubergine, onion and pepper, there was a enticing sweetness to the dish as a whole and, even though the onion and pepper outnumbered the aubergine, it was great when mixed with the rice.
Of the desserts, we went for a classic: Om Ali (30LE). The combination of puff pastry, milk and nuts was perfect, with the crunch of the nuts against the softened pastry adding a great textural contrast and it wasn’t blindingly sweet as can be the case among Cairo restaurants.
Washing our meal down with a glass of doum juice (20LE) – made of ginger palm root – we were full, satisfied and actually welcoming that feeling of being anchored down by your food, unable to move in any real way. Baladina’s new branch proved to be as authentic as its others and it should do well in a place like Westown Hub .