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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Cafe Supreme: Popular Chain’s Chicest Branch in Mohandiseen Falls Short on Service
Café Supreme's unexplainable popularity has made it a 'name' so to speak on the landscape of Cairo cafes. Well-established in the city with several branches around the busy capital, its latest branch, strategically located right across the Shooting club in Mohandiseen, recently opened its doors.
Upon entering the two story café/restaurant hybrid, one can almost immediately spot a clear differentiator- this branch flaunts perhaps one of the chain's classiest interior designs, with shiny well-polished floors and tables, swanky black chandeliers hanging on one side and a classic colour scheme.
As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by an eager waiter who, quite distractingly, made us change tables three times in order to offer us more comfortable seating. The spirit of the gesture was appreciated but it was quite unnecassary. After finally settling on a table, we skimmed through the menu noticing no new additions to the chain's classic offerings of light and tasty appetisers, hefty main dishes and traditional desserts, alongside its sister chain Sushi Bay's Asian options.
Opting for the Shrimp Konafa (59.5LE) as an appetiser, the Supreme Signature Pasta (49LE) and the Flamed Grilled Chicken (65LE) as main courses, from the Café Supreme menu and the Crispy Shrimp Tempura Rolls (59LE/ 8 pieces) from the Sushi Bay menu, we waited hungrily. The food, quite disappointingly, arrived inconsistently with some dishes arriving before the others.
Nonetheless, it was - without a single exception - quite outstanding, both in taste and in presentation. The Shrimp Konafa came with a chili dip and boasted four tender shrimps enveloped in a shell of crisp konafa, while the Supreme Signature pasta boasted an adequate portion of penne pasta drenched in creamy white sauce with just the right consistency and topped with grilled chicken pieces. The Flamed Grilled Chicken, arriving with sides of mashed potatoes with spicy gravy and sautéed vegetables, was just as pleasing with the perfectly-cooked chicken breasts retaining their juiciness, as were the pleasingly fresh Shrimp Tempura rolls.
After the belly-warming meal, we ordered mint green tea, only to have apricot green tea arrive at our table. Upon drawing the waiter's attention to this shortcoming, he went on to get us a single serving of mint green tea instead of the two servings we had previously ordered. In the end, though, we got both our requested servings of mint green tea, which was thankfully delightful.
In a nutshell, Café Supreme has managed to continue offering decadent dishes that come in ample servings at decent value for money and good quality. The branch's interior décor is definitely on point, yet the same cannot be said about its level of service.
Over the last year or so, new restaurants in Cairo have been introducing more and more exotic cuisines to the dining scene, be it Mongolian or even Peruvian with a Japanese twist, leaving classic favourites like Italian and Asian last week’s news. However, recently opened restaurant, Akli, has gone against the tide and specialises in not only one cuisine, but six, across everything from soups to desserts.
Located off Meccas Street in Dokki, Akli is divided into two zones; the ground floor, which has a exposed glass-wall baking room and shawerma station that wasn’t working at the time of our visit, is made for take-out orders, while the top floor is for dining-in. Besides the unfinished ceiling – which doesn’t seem like it will be finished because the AC duct has already been installed - the interior of the restaurant is on the classic side, with olive green, traditional panelled walls behind ruby buttoned couches. The setup of its tables is also pretty basic, but it actually has a cheerful view of a mini garden. If we were to compare it to another restaurant, Akli has the same spirit of everyone’s favourite, Bon Appetit.
Now let’s talk about the food. Our first flight was to Italy with Spicy Arancini Di Manzo (25LE). Starting from the spot-on creamy texture and the scrumptious golden brown crust, to the melted mozzarella cheese and minced beef, which was bursting with Italian herbs flavours, those four fried Italian rice balls were rather tasty.
Our second stop was at our beloved country with Sojouk (42LE). Lying on a bed of chopped parsley in true 90’s style, the grilled sausage was seasoned well, but it was a bit tough and dry. Overall, though, the appetiser seemed incomplete and needed some kind of a sauce or a dip with it.
Moving to the mains, we opted for the Greek Shrimp Saganaki (120LE). Made of perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp in tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese, the dish was a good one, but it wasn’t Saganaki. There was too little cheese to the flavour and the tomato sauce didn’t have any Greek flavours and tasted like Egyptian vegetable stew. One the other hand, the side of lemon rice added a good zesty flavour to the dish.
We also tried Adana Kebab (89LE) from the Turkish side of the menu. Two pieces of kofta laying on Lebanese bread and served with tahini dip and basmati rice topped with nuts, the dish didn’t capture anything particularly Turkish. Although the kofta was seasoned well and the rice was light and fluffy, the dish was overpriced – it’s almost exactly the same as Shawarmaister’s Kofta Halabi Platter which costs 45LE.
We finished our meal with the French Nougat Glace (27LE) for dessert; a rectangular slice of flawless vanilla ice cream filled with mini bits of pistachio and dried fruits. It was served with sour cherry syrup with a very sticky consistency, but the dessert as a whole was light and well executed.
There’s something about what Akli is trying to do that you can’t help but appreciate – but it’s not an easy job to perfect six different cuisines in one kitchen. The ambiance of the restaurant will take you back in time when you used to dine in a sporting club with the family and the food was, overall, good but there’s nothing remarkable about it.