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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.
The general appraoch adopted by restaurants in Cairo is 'bigger is better'. However, it’s important to remember that good things come in small packages. Modest eatery, Six Bites in Mohandiseen, specialise in producing fresh finger-foods.
This curiously small, glass fronted venue is easy to miss. Despite giving the impression of being a catering company, the two fridges at the back of the shop contain a selection of both savoury and sweet pieces, ready to take away. In the instances of pre-ordering – which should be done a few days in advance – the menu boasts a wide variety of mini sandwiches and sweet desserts to choose from, whilst in person, we were able to point out which ones appeared most appetising. Prices are either per kg (100LE-200LE), per piece (2.5LE-5LE) or per ready-mixed platter (140LE-180LE).
Perfectly sized and attractively presented for party food platters, we ordered a variety of mini buns; from the straightforward chicken and cheese types, to the more adventurous seafood combinations. Made fresh daily, each bun-base was deliciously soft and fluffy, supporting the generous, flavourful fillings.
Our favourite had to be the creamy mozzarella and tangy dried tomato (2.5LE) combination, which tasted remarkably like a tiny pizza. Another delicious bite was the more unusual labna and thyme (2.5LE), which was both smooth and delectable. The smoked salmon was also thoroughly enjoyable, complete with a creamy filling, crunchy salad pieces and a small slice of lemon. Unfortunately, the blue cheese and walnut combination – although made with good quality cheese – was slightly too potent for our tastes, as was the adventurous white cheese sharkasia (2.5LE). Although assured of its freshness by the shop assistant, due to a slight greying of the meat, we were too nervous to try the roast beef bacon and lettuce (3LE) sandwich.
As for the desserts, each one was more scrumptious than the other. The chocolate tart was piled high with chocolate chips, while the inside was filled with a rich, creamy, chocolate paste. The blueberry pastry was filled with sweet cream, as were the seasonal fruit creations. The bitesized caramel and strawberry cheesecakes were exceptional and were wonderfully sweet, thick and creamy.
Despite occupying such a modest venue, Six Bites offer exceedingly good finger foods at more than reasonable prices, making them an excellent catering choice for any occasion.