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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Café Riche: Historically Rich, Real Cappuccino
Built in 1908, Café Riche boasts a casual atmosphere laden with nostalgia and deeply entrenched with Egyptian historical significance. Long-time patrons have said that back in its bustling beginning, the café was quite the happening place for intellectuals and artists alike; mulling over endless cups of coffee as they discussed life’s philosophies and politics. Rumour also has it that in 1952, Café Riche was where Abdel Nasser’s regime planned their coup that would soon overthrow King Farouk’s rule.
With history in tow, the café itself is a historical landmark among many in the area, located between Tahrir Square and Talaat Harb Square on Talaat Harb Street. Once you scurry off the busy street and slide through its humble entrance, you’re quickly greeted by friendly staff dressed in traditional garb. Enjoy the café’s eclectic mix of patrons engaging in different activities like reading books, holding meetings, or catching up with friends.
In the narrow main corridor, local artwork lines the walls while the charming table arrangements are composed of the ever-common tiny wooden chairs, checked red and white tablecloths, and as a plus, high quality cloth napkins. Simple, glossy flower vases grace the centre top, complete with one single, fresh flower; tying in a cosy, personal touch. While an adjacent room is just next door, its green fluorescent lighting gives off a strange feel.
They offer a full-scale menu including a variety of espressos, coffees and fresh juices. While the lemon juice (10LE) wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, the cappuccino (12LE) was satisfying with a surprisingly sufficient amount of foam. The mint tea (8LE) came as a sweet arrangement of your own kettle, providing enough water for a few cups. If mint is your thing, you should be pleased; as the mint literally filled the kettle with freshness and a powerful punch of flavour. Beers are also offered, which is rare for a café, with both Stella and Heineken available for 13LE.
Salads, including your traditional Greek, run around 7LE. Chicken platters including shish tawook and similar dishes are offered.
From its historical and convenient location to the tasty, decently priced drinks, Café Riche is definitely the place to go for a relaxing drink or two with friends, or an afternoon spent reading that book you’ve been dying to finish.
Located in the recently opened Porto Cairo, Le Grand Royal offers two types of outdoor seating; right in front of the restaurant’s facade and across from it overlooking the dancing fountain. Being ones who appreciate a nice view, we chose to sit right next to the fountain and were led to our table straight away.
Wanting to grab a satisfying meal after a long day at work, menus were nowhere in sight - even a few minutes after we had been seated we still had to call for them.
When the waiter arrived, he laid out two types of menus on the table; the food menu and the drinks and desserts menu. Upon inspection of said food menu, it was clear that Le Grand Royal had a lot to offer in terms of food options. Appetisers, with the Shrimp Konafa being the only item that stood out to us, steak and chicken sandwiches, pizza, burgers and all kinds of beef, chicken and seafood dishes.
The drinks offered were also extensive, with ice-cream based cocktails, fresh juices, smoothies and coffee. The desserts are exclusively western and consisted of gateaux, cheesecake, crepe and ice cream.
We opted for the Chicken Royale Pasta (42.50LE) and the Chicken Florentine (68.50LE). As for our drinks, we picked the Lemon-Mint juice (22LE).
The food didn't take long to arrive and was graciously laid out on our table within a few minutes and we began to dig into our dishes. This, of course, was the moment the dancing fountain show started and we were sprayed with water — so, don’t sit next to the fountain.
With very neat presentation, the food certainly looked appetising. The flavour, however, was lacking. Drenched in a creamy mushroom and pesto sauce, the pasta was heavy beyond words. The Chicken Florentine, meanwhile, which is basically fried chicken with a side of pasta all drenched with the same heavy creamy sauce, was even heavier. Given the fact that the chicken was already deep fried, soaking it in such a heavy sauce is just a big no-no. Our Lemon Mint juice, however, was quite the opposite; light and refreshing.
All in all, our experience at Le Grand Royal was neither terrible nor amazing; it was, to say the most, average. The overall service was quite efficient, but we couldn’t finish our plates, despite the state of hunger we were in, due to how dense they were.