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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.
There’s nothing quite like the warmth of an authentic Egyptian dinner brewing in a kitchen. It’s a complex, almost ethereal, equation that many Cairo restaurants have tried to replicate and the latest to do so is La Fandi in Maadi.
The small venue is located in the dining complex, the Courtyard, houses a total of ten tables and has found its home in a cosy corner, where it’s managed to cultivate an even cosier atmosphere, drawing on 1960s Egypt for inspiration. Small touches like an old-timey radio, mason jars of pickled vegetables and old-school wooden chairs, tables and chairs hit the spot.
Like all cafes and restaurants at the Courtyard, La Fandi has outdoor and indoor seating arrangements, separated by the restaurant’s glass front.
At the time of our visit, two staff members were holding the fort, both of whom were more than welcoming. The menu is a little more intricate than one might assume, offering breakfast (till 11AM), a rather enticing selections of appetisers – referred to as na2na2a, or ‘snacking’ – as well as traditional Egyptian sandwiches and some creative hawawshi variations.
From the appetisers, we ordered some potato wedges with a special ‘Egyptian seasoning’ (10LE), an Alexandrian liver sandwich in saj bread (33LE), a roasted eggplant, tomato and arugula sandwich (15LE) and, most interestingly of all, hawawshi with pickled lemon (30LE).
The food took no less than 30 minutes to arrive, which is a little on get than you’d expect when considering the straightforward build of the each item; however, the staff assured us that the long waiting time is down to the fact that everything is made from scratch – including the bread.
Everything arrived wrapped nicely – fast-food style – and labelled. We dived into the potato wedges first, which were crispy and golden on the outside, soft and smooth on the inside, the special seasoning was more of a dressing, made up of tehina and sesame seeds, which all came together perfectly.
The hawawshi was next on our radar and it too was a little different to the traditional hawawshi you get elsewhere. The meat was noticeably fresh, lean and with next-to-no-fat, leaving the pickled lemon to still the proverbial show. The Alexandrian liver sandwich was just as successful, meanwhile; the liver was noticeably fresh and, unlike many similar sandwiches that see the peppers and the seasoning dominate the overall flavour, it was full of flavour. Not everything was perfect, though; the roasted eggplant was rather off. The eggplant itself was devoid of any flavour – to the extent that we opened up to sandwich to make sure – to find one slice of it, with the addition of mozzarella cheese. Though we welcome all and any creativity in food, the tomatoes clashed with the rest of the ingredients and, overall, it was really under-seasoned.
The modern spin on classic Egyptian food has been done many times over the last few years to mixed success; La Fandi follows suit to a certain extent, but largely plays within the box of the country’s traditional foods. This is both its greatest strength and its biggest weakness, but overall, we’d have no qualms in returning for a quick na2na2a, so to speak.