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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.
Abou El Sid has established itself amongst the greats when talking about authentic Egyptian cuisine in Cairo. With branches all over the city and beyond, we were excited to see what special fetar program they had to offer this Ramadan, so we headed on over to the Maadi branch with high hopes and empty stomachs.
We arrived thirty minutes before Fetar, as was required, even though we had placed our orders over the phone earlier that morning. The outdoor area was quiet and quaint in the light of the setting sun, with stern-faced waiters gathered around the door getting ready for what seemed to be a Battle Royale Fetar to end all fetars. But this quiet proved to be the calm before the storm; staff members wearing every colour uniform imaginable were running around in circles trying to get everything ready in the minutes before the call to prayer.
Right before Fetar, we were offered the restaurant’s Ramadan drink selection and opted for karkade (Hibiscus) and amar el din (Apricot) (18LE each). The karkade was tart and refreshing – not too sweet like what many venues tend to offer. The amar el din, meanwhile, is an acquired taste at the best of times and lacked the classic apricot taste and sweetness.
As for the soup and appetisers, they all suffered one fatal flaw: they were cold. In the fetar rush, the show-runners at Abou El Sid neglected that, though setting down the starters a full ten minutes before fetar is time efficient, it isn’t very enjoyable for the guests. The Chicken Orzo soup (22LE) tasted quite nice, but other than its temperature, its lack of chicken was disappointing. For appetisers, we had Lamb kofta (42LE), kobeba (36LE) and stuffed vine leaves (28LE) with baba ghanoug and cucumber yoghurt salad (15LE each). There isn’t much to say about both the kofta and the kobeba – they were both cold, dry and overall unappetising. The Vine Leaves fared better – without being spectacular – especially when paired with the cucumber yoghurt which, like the baba ghanoug, tasted pleasantly homemade.
For our main course, we chose the Veal Chunk Tajin (68LE) and the Circassian Chicken (62LE). The tajin was delectable and perfectly cooked, with the rich and inviting veal served in a bed of equally delicious vermicelli. The Circassian Chicken was a different story, however. The classic walnut sauce was clumpy and hardly enough for the bed of bland rice that lied beneath it. Though the chicken itself was good, the dish as a whole was a letdown.
After we finished eating, we became uncomfortably aware of how loud and chaotic the surroundings were. With waiters shouting orders, big groups of people and electric fans that did more to irritate than to keep us cool, it was only the nostalgic sounds of Om Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez that maintained any trace of atmosphere.
Pondering the idea of dessert, we were a bit confused as to who to ask for the menu – there seemed to be new faces and uniforms every couple of minutes. After asking for the menu three times, we discovered that, to get anything done, we had to ask the, assumed, Head Waiter, and after finally getting a hold of him, he took his sweet time with it.
We’d almost forgotten about dessert when they set down the Om Ali and Mohalabeya (25LE each). The Om Ali, though pleasantly warm, had no milk, which was quite unfortunate, because it actually tasted good. The Mohalabeya on the other hand, was heavenly with delicate vanilla flavours and roasted nuts sprinkled on top.
Overall, we were disappointed and left wishing for a do-over. The evening’s execution had not gone as planned and the food and the overall atmosphere had suffered. From the chaos of service, to the mess-ups with the food, it was a poor reflection of a giant in the dining scene.