Cairo Cafés

TBS - The Bakery Shop: Fresh Brunch at Sheikh Zayed's Arkan Plaza
Published On: 16/12/2014

Brunch: the wonderful, yet slightly obscure to this region, concept of a meal that fits between breakfast and lunch. It's the perfect meal for lazy, laid back days and TBS, perhaps one of Egypt's finest bakery chains, seems to be the perfect place to feed our mid-day rumbling bellies. The branch at Sheikh Zayed's Arkan Plaza presents TBS's signature modern design of basic off-white and wooden brown colour scheme complimented by immaculate glass windows that allow the light to ever so brightly seep into the adequately sized bakery. The minute we walked in, our nostrils were gleefully attacked by the delicious scent of fresh baking and our eyes went straight to the fridges and displays boasting a wide array of edible eye-candy. Our server greeted us and waited patiently while we tried to make up our minds on what to order. With regards to what TBS has to offer, its menu is composed of many sweet and savoury croissant variations (7.75LE to 11.25LE/piece), alongside different types of baguettes, toast, tarts (9LE-12LE/piece), Danishes (9LE), muffins (7LE-9.50LE), cronuts (9.50LE), cookies, mini pizzas and donuts (8LE.25-10.50LE). TBS has also very recently launched some new pastry items including Raspberry and Blueberry tarts (12LE), the vegetable (10LE) and chicken (13.75LE tarts), as well as sun-dried tomato, spicy feta and mint feta puffs (8.25LE). You can also customize your own sandwich, by picking your own baguette and fillings. Of course, you can also enjoy a freshly-squeezed juice or some coffee with your treats. As you can see, the options are plentiful. After taking slightly too long to figure out what to choose, the server swiftly boxed and packaged everything neatly. The first bite we took was of the Multi Cereal Croissant (8.25LE), which tasted light, decadent and better than any white croissant we've ever had - healthy options can actually taste good, after all. After that, we dug our teeth into the Rix Milano (9.25LE), which is basically a dough-wrapped sausage, and it tasted just as fresh as the former. The Mini Pizza (7LE) was also quite delicious, though tasted very similar to the Rix Milano. The Almond Croissant (8LE) was quite delightful, sweet and topped with slivered Almonds, but needed a tad more filling, as did the Pain Au Chocolat (9.25LE). TBS seems to have successfully retained its quality whereever it has gone, with everything tasting exceptionally fresh. Moreover, the servers were, as always, welcoming and efficient and the place was spotless and neat, giving us all the more reason to come back.

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El Dokan: 'Balady-Chic' Fountain-Side Restaurant & Cafe in Cairo Festival City
Published On: 12/12/2014

When it comes mall dining, there's a strange phenomenon that continues to grow across the occasionally bemusing Cairo dining scene. Why so many restaurants try to present a fine-dining, full-out food experience in busy and bustling shopping complex is a mystery. The more successful ones are the ones that allow you to grab a quick, uncomplicated bite - which is exactly what we had in mind when we approached El Dokan in New Cairo. Located right by the dancing fountain in Cairo Festival City Mall, El Dokan's seating is exclusively outdoor, but still quite comfy and cosy. We were greeted by a waiter at the entrance and seated right away. At the time of our visit, the place was bustling with customers, yet in no way felt too crowded, thanks to a sensibly spaced layout. Our waiter laid out our menus in front of us and we began scanning what turned out to be rather typical balady-chic options. From a variety of Foul platters (9.50LE-26LE), to various Falafel (8.5LE-11LE), egg creations and jazzed-up cheese options, including some delicious sounding grilled halloumi cheese (35LE), El Dokan offers the usual basics but manages to spice them up a bit by offering variations of them. For more main course suited dishes, El Dokan offers an array of feteer, Mana'eesh (37LE-50LE), Shawerma, Koshary (20LE) and Hawashi (25LE), amongst some other Egyptian cuisine-inspired options. We placed our order and had our drinks – green tea (16LE) and regular tea (13LE) – arrive before our food.  Said food, however, arrived a few minutes later and we couldn't wait to dig in. The tomeya (20LE) came in a generous helping accompanied by a balady bread basket and tasted scrumptious enough to be eaten  straight off the plate with a fork. The Labneh with Zaatar (20LE) was also light, creamy and definitely delicious. The Chicken Shawerma platter (45LE) featured thin, unrolled Syrian bread layered beneath chicken chunk, and was cooked and seasoned well, but arriving a bit cold. The Beef Shawerma Sandwich (40LE) was also quite delightful, but had the same issue of not being hot. Once we informed our waiter of the problem, however, he apologised on the spot and offered to reheat our dishes, which took little to no time and saved us some disappointment. All in all, El Dokan is a pleasant and charming hangout spot, which is partly owed to its prime location by the dancing fountain. The food initially arriving cold was a definite pet peeve, but our waiter managed to save the day by efficiently handling the issue. Though many will point to the fact that the whole balady-chic approach has been exhausted, the fact of the matter is that it's not going away anytime soon and at least El Dokan does it well.

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Coppermelt: Quality Desserts & Cakes at Chic New Cairo Patisserie
Published On: 07/12/2014

With colder weather come the ridiculously deep cravings for comfort food; winter seems to turn us into chronic sugar-craving maniacs. Thankfully, Egypt has a long, sordid love-affair with sweets and desserts and there's no shortage of new purveyors of such treats. One of the newest is Coppermelt, which touts itself as a cafe and restaurant - a label that does it disservice and doesn't indicate how expertly made their desserts and baked-goods are. Located in a rather peculiar spot on New Cairo's only instantly identifiable street, Road 90, Coppermelt gives off a rather postmodern European feel. Boasting endearing Christmas decorations and props at the time of our visit, there's no better trigger to gorging on sweets than the festive season. Its interior carried a chic vibe, with a grey and subtle copper-colour scheme and the place is exceptionally and immaculately organised. We were greeted by a pleasant server who graciously introduced us to what the charming patisserie had to offer, and took us around for a mini tour. Starting off at the dessert side, we saw bright, intricate cakes (165LE-175LE) with a Blueberry-Lychee looking particularly alluring. The colourful cake bites (6.5LE/ piece) display came next and our server gave us each a 'bite' to try; the Red Velvet and Chocolate- Peanut Butter bites were heavenly and melted right in our mouths. We saw some more displays of flavoured meringue, cookies (3LE-17 LE/ per cookie), brownies (12LE/per piece) and potted dirt cakes (25LE), as well as traditional Oriental sweets (150LE/ kilo). Another interesting dessert creation we found was the Blueberry Mehalabeya (19LE). Moving on to some of the savoury options, Coppermelt offers an array of sandwiches and bagels stuffed with salmon, chicken, roast beef and many other options (20LE-25LE). We also spotted some mini pizzas and bread loafs in all colours, shapes and sizes. After our tour, we had to make the painfully limiting decision of what to order. After some serious thought, we went for some red velvet cookies (8LE/cookie), some chocolate brownies, a piece of red velvet sponge cake (8LE) and a vanilla dirt cake (25LE), which were quickly wrapped up in chic little boxes. To say the desserts were phenomenal is an understatement; the cookies were chewy, not too sugary and filled with white chocolate chips, while the chocolate brownies were also quite decadent, yet still attained a certain lightness to them despite bursting with dark chocolate chips. Moreover, the dirt cake was quite creamy and mouth-watering and the red velvet sponge cake was delicious despite tasting like it needed a bit of a kick, probably due to its lack of any frosting. There's a very good chance we'll hibernate throughout the winter season at Coppermelt. With such well-ordered displays, friendly service and delicious treats, Coppermelt is an excellent addition to New Cairo.

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Hookah Lounge: Chilled Shisha Cafe in Heliopolis
Published On: 27/11/2014

Shisha, hookah, water-pipe – whatever you want to call it, it's every bit as essential to Cairo cafes as chairs and tables are and the majority of places across the city serve it as a key ingredient to the quintessential Egyptian experience. Located in the bustling Marghany Street, Hookah Lounge stands out with its bright purple sign and white painted walls. We were greeted at the entrance by a waiter, who offered us the choice of either indoor or outdoor seating. Spending any kind of prolonged time outside in Cairo in November is likely to have you shivering to the bone, but Hookah Lounges outdoor area is equipped with surprisingly effective heaters. We were instantly seated in the mildly crowded lounge without having to wait and had our menus laid out before us in a jiffy. The design of the place immediately puts you at ease, boasting a laid back white and silver colour scheme. We especially loved the gigantic, colourful shisha design strewn to the side wall and thought it added a rather charming feel to the place. Going for a rather non-fussy menu, Hookah offers no-fuss mainstream dishes; pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, salads and burgers pretty much dominated the menu. For the shishas, however, they offer a wide range of flavours and mixes. We placed our order and had our shishas by our sides a few minutes later. The blueberry-vanilla (27LE) was quite heavenly, albeit a bit too strong in flavour. We, nonetheless, loved it. The cherry-vanilla (27LE), which wasn't on the menu, but made as a special request for us, was much lighter than the former and tasted just as delightful. Our coal, however, was not regularly maintained and we had to ask the waiter continuously to change it. Arriving right after the shishas, our steaming main dishes looked absolutely mouth-watering. The Fried Mozzarella (25 LE) consisted of four large pieces of fried, breaded cheese with a dip and tasted as sinful as deep-fried cheese should taste. Our Chicken Alfredo pasta (49 LE) came in a hefty serving and consisted of penne pasta – as requested – topped with dense white sauce and grilled chicken chunks, sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Though nothing stands out as being extraordinary in the food department, everything was cooked well and served in big, filling portions. But this being a cafe called Hookah Lounge, the focus is very much on shisha and though it wasn't tended to as regularly as one would like, the quality and variety of the different flavours makes it a haven for shisha fans.

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Cafe Supreme: Bustling Cafe in Korba, Heliopolis
Published On: 23/11/2014

In Cairo, the term 'hanging out' has become almost synonymous with cafes. With no short supply of coffee shops and ahwas in Egypt's capital, a few hot drinks and a bit of a smoke were in order; so we headed to Café Supreme's Heliopolis branch. Located in the ever-crowded, yet confusingly charming neighbourhood that is Korba, Café Supreme offers both indoor and outdoor seating. We were greeted by a busy looking waiter who kindly obliged to offering us a table outdoors, despite how crowded it was. We took our seats, but couldn't help feeling squashed amongst the dozens of customers. Our menus were laid out in front of us within seconds and we took a few glances at it, despite knowing we weren't up for a full-on meal. Offering its usual, no-hassle main courses, however, including pizzas, pastas, chicken and beef dishes and salads, Café Supreme definitely makes for a viable eatery.  On a chilly autumn night, nothing seems to warm us up more than some shisha and hot chocolate and with that mind-set, we opted for  Vanilla-Coconut, Lemon-Mint and Blue Mist shishas (each for 37LE) and some Dark Swiss Hot Chocolate (22LE). Our shishas were by our sides and ready to be smoked within a few minutes and tasted quite lovely, with the waiter carefully placing the coal so as not to burn them out too quickly. The hot chocolate arrived a couple of minutes later and it looked and smelled as enticingly alluring as any dark chocolate creation should; it was thick, satisfying and tasted like real, unsweetened dark chocolate. Needless to say, we definitely contemplated ordering seconds. All in all, Café Supreme, as always, seemed to give us the best of both worlds; solid service and quality offerings. The dark hot chocolate was possibly the best we've had in a while and our shishas were regularly maintained, with our waiter stopping by every few minutes to replace the coal. The only problem was the whole issue of too many customers that made us feel a bit suffocated.

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Thomas Patisserie: Sweets, Cakes & Desserts in New Cairo
Published On: 17/11/2014

Having already made its name in the Egyptian dessert market, Thomas Patisserie is by no means, an unfamiliar brand. Thomas' latest branch in New Cairo, however, is still new and pristine and so, being the adamant sweet-tooths we are, we decided to hit it up for a much-needed sugar fix. Located in a rather odd part of New Cairo, in the Medical Park,  Thomas is relatively spacious yet lacks any seating areas; it's the type of patisserie you go to when you want to take your desserts to-go. The interior appearance of the venue unabashedly leans to the sleek, dark, black spectrum of decor; an obvious attempt at obtaining a chic and posh design. The whole vibe, however, is a little too much and ends up looking a little tacky rather than the elegant. The place offers a variety of desserts, divided into the two obvious types; Western and Middle- Eastern/ Oriental treats. Taking a glance at all the desserts offered at the time of our visit, we couldn't help but notice that the gateaux and cakes looked much better-stocked and more alluring than their Oriental counterparts. The Oriental desserts on display, however, included lots of the classics like Basbousa (40LE-60LE/ Kilo), Konafa, and Baklava amongst others. You can also order a selection of the three for 130LE/Kilo. We migrated to the better lit display of all the gateaux, tarts and cakes one could ever think of. From round, English-type, breakfast-friendly cakes (70LE) to full-on, occasion-orientated cakes (120LE-150 LE for a small one and 170LE-210LE for a large one), the cakes came in all sizes with all kinds of flavours and toppings.  Moreover, the infamous French delicacies, Macaroons, were also available in a multitude of flavours (175LE/ kilo). Gateaux, both normal-sized (9LE-16LE/piece) and soiree-sized (100LE/kilo), were also available and we opted for a few pieces to indulge in. Other savoury baked goods can also be found at Thomas, including pates, croissants and mini pizzas (5.50LE-8LE/ piece). Gourmet chocolates (175LE/ Kilo) are also offered and would make lovely gifts for any occasion. Our gateaux were well-wrapped in a box and were pleasing to the eye. The classic, sugar-topped, millefeuille was light, yet decadent, with the pastry tasting exceptionally fresh.  The mango tarte was also quite delightful and light. The chocolate gateaux, however, despite tasting alright seemed to lack a certain oomph; chocolate desserts should never taste average. All in all, Thomas offers quite a lovely selection of desserts for all kinds of occasions. Despite its wishy-washy design and quite peculiar location, it still did have adequate service, with super friendly staff. The desserts themselves were not ground-breaking in the taste department, but were still of notable quality.

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Café Supreme: Surprisingly Good Food at Concord Plaza Mall Branch of Café Chain
Published On: 03/11/2014

It's not every day that you come across a restaurant or cafe in Cairo that offers high quality dishes that are easy on your wallet. Café Supreme is one such place that breaks the trend. The chain's newest, and fourth, branch in New Cairo has recently opened in Concord Plaza Mall on Road 90. With both spacious outdoor and indoor seating, one could almost always land a table, even on the busiest of nights. The whole design and feel of the place is rather contemporary, with its basic colour scheme and glass panelling. We were led to our requested table outdoors and our waiter promptly brought us our menus. Café Supreme does not necessarily specialise in a certain cuisine, but rather offers no-frills, generic dishes one would expect of a cafe, as well as some surprising items. From Shrimp Konafa (59LE) and an interesting-sounding Munchies Basket (53 LE), to an exotic-sounding California Salad (38 LE), the appetisers sounded promising. The main dishes were no let-down either, offering countless pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and meat-based platters.  The abundance of waiters around meant that one could always be found to take orders in a jiffy and so we made our order and patiently waited. Our food did not take that long to arrive and was laid in front of us, twenty-five minutes after we had ordered it, but, disappointingly, some plates arrived before others. This definitely was quite the pet peeve and just slightly annoying and unsettling. The food, however, was cooked to utter perfection. Our Flamed Grilled Chicken (65LE), arrived in the form of two thick, well-grilled chicken breasts accompanied by our requested sautéed vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy on the side. The chicken was tender and well-marinated and the vegetables were crunchy and neither soggy nor oily. Supreme's Signature Pasta (49LE) was also quite the delight to our taste buds. The huge dish consisted of penne pasta drenched in white sauce - that had the right consistency - topped with a grilled chicken breast and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The Roast Chicken BBQ pizza (65LE) tasted, however, a bit perplexing. Whilst the pizza dough itself was delicious and thin, the toppings did not taste right and the overall taste ended up being sweet and slightly off-putting. The overall stellar service at the restaurant is definitely worth a mention for it was efficient and on-point. Our waiter even offered us blankets when the weather got too chilly. To wrap up, Café Supreme offered us tasty food of superior quality without breaking the bank, as well as very pleasing service. Sure the pizza tasted a little confusing, but the rest of the dishes were sumptuous and mouth-watering.

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Kahve: Cozy Cafe in Sheikh Zayed
Published On: 16/10/2014

At first glance, some Cairo cafes seem to have it all; good atmosphere, design, location and overall outlook. Then, when you actually decide to give them a go, you end up with unprecedented disappointment. Located in a quiet street in the Sheikh Zayed, Kahve grabs attention with its Turkish name and seemingly chilled atmosphere. The place is adequately-sized, with both outdoor and indoor seating available, and despite being full at the time of our visit, it still retained a relaxing ambiance; perfect for reading a book by yourself, or going on a casual date. We asked a waiter if there were any tables available and he, right away, began arranging one for us. Our menus were laid in front of us and we began our search for something to order. The menu's not huge in terms of variety, but it'll do in a pinch. Kahve offers hot beverages (15.50LE-21LE), mostly coffee-based, of which the Nutella Turkish Coffee (16.50LE) was the most striking. Some cold shakes, cocktails and smoothies were also offered (19LE-29.75LE). As for food, we spotted some savoury items including basic sandwiches, croissants with fillings (11.50LE), pizza and crepes (25.75LE). Some desserts are also offered, including chocolate fondant (29.75LE), waffles (15.75 LE), tarts, muffins, cookies and donuts. The final item on the menu was the shisha, of course, which comes in all sorts of flavours and varieties (20LE-30LE). The true beginning of the end came with us placing our order.  Our waiter, quite surprisingly, did not recognise several items on the menu. He then proceeded to deny our request for Salami pizza claiming that the only pizza toppings available were Hotdog, mushrooms and cheese. Quite baffled, and slightly annoyed, we opted for a Hotdog Pizza and a Cheese Lover's Pizza (27.75LE each), green tea, water and the Chocolate Lover's dessert (30LE). A whopping forty-five minutes later, our table was just as empty as it had been when we first arrived.  Our pizzas and Chocolate Lovers dessert only arrived after we had asked for them three times, and our green tea and water came after we had to remind the waiter that we had, in fact, asked for them two times.  The pizzas were quite small in size, thin, crisp and laden with cheese; totally delicious, but not particularly filling. The same, however, cannot be said for the dessert, as it lacked an adequate amount of ice cream and chocolate sauce, had none of the nuts it claimed to have on the menu, and the brownie itself tasted quite stale. All in all, it's a shame Kahve, with its lovely setting, fell so badly in the service department. Sure the pizzas were scrumptious, but they sure weren't worth the wait.  The Chocolate Lovers dessert was a total disaster and our waiter completely forgetting our order was quite a nuisance.

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Etoile: Busy Cafe & Patisserie in Downtown Cairo
Published On: 12/10/2014

Located on 26th of July Street, in Downtown Cairo, this three-storey patisserie is both a chic little café on the top floor and a charming dessert shop on the first floor with a great deal to explore in terms of cakes and sweets. Upon entering Etoile, rows upon rows of tasty treats are presented in a long glass refrigerator ready for selection including an extensive display of intricately detailed cakes starting at 4.50LE per slice. We tried a soft sponge cake filled with sweet cream and topped with a delicate layer of moist icing - simple but delicious. The great thing about these cakes is that once purchased, you can keep them in the fridge for up to two days and they will taste just as fresh as the day they were baked.  A dozen of these delicious delicacies can be purchased for the price of 54LE or the more expensive cakes at 60LE.  The café upstairs is a little quieter and offers a selection of the cakes from the shop downstairs plus an exquisite variety of hot and cold beverages. The décor was pleasantly simple with wooden tables and chairs in a comfortable air-conditioned atmosphere. We ordered a slice of Caramel Cheesecake and a slice of Cherry Cheesecake (10LE each). They were deliciously creamy with a soft biscuit-base that had a hint of orange peel.  The cherry cheesecake even had some whole-cherry pieces hidden inside the cream, which created a pleasing texture.  To wash down the cake we also ordered one Strawberry Juice (10LE) which was full of luscious strawberry pieces and one Vanilla Milkshake (11LE) made with creamy vanilla ice cream. Etoile also has a small ice-cream kiosk right beside the entrance with one scoop costing 2.50LE and the variety is much larger than we expected; chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, caramel, cantaloupe, mango and even kiwi, are some of the options. While the chocolate and vanilla were exceptional, the kiwi flavour was debatable.  The variety goes beyond cakes and incorporates a range of Oriental desserts and some very posh chocolates in shiny wrapping, which make perfect gifts for special occasions.  Etoile does have a down side however – it gets crowded to the point where it becomes difficult to even move around the store.

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Eduscho Kaffee: Pleasant Cafe in Maadi Grand Mall
Published On: 27/09/2014

Cairo is over-flowing with pleasant places to indulge in a small robust espresso or a tall creamy latte. Located on the first floor of Maadi Grand Mall, Eduscho is a perfect location for a quick coffee before returning to a shopping spree. The café's decor is nothing special though it does take up a large area fully equipped with marble-affect tables and green cushioned wooden seating, plus there are fans above to provide a comfortable atmosphere.  However, Eduscho is an open-area cafe which means you will be surrounded by shops and people walking left, right and center, so if you're looking for somewhere quiet and secluded then this isn't the place.  Nonetheless, it does offer a pleasant and varied menu. After seating ourselves and browsing the generous selection of drinks, we ordered a medium Cappuccino (15LE), one Hot Chocolate (15LE), an Ice Latte (16LE) and a Lemon Juice (12LE). The Cappuccino was pleasant and decently sized, however both the hot chocolate and ice latte were significantly lacking in milk and tasted very watery.  Thankfully the lemon juice served no complaints, it was fresh, zesty and sweet all mixed into one tall glass. It is also possible to have cream or a flavour syrup, including toffee, caramel and vanilla, added to your drinks at an extra 5LE. Despite being a café where the focus is on the beverages, Eduscho offer a small range of sandwiches, salads and desserts at decent prices.  We opted for the Waffles with Nutella which were deliciously moist, sweet and generously smothered in the warm chocolate and hazelnut sauce. Although a fairly ordinary café, we did find something a little special that not all cafes provide. A little built-in shop selling a range of stylish tea and coffee appliances. The good news is there is currently an ongoing sale: one tall trendy water purifier was 100LE now costs 85LE and a coffee and espresso machine is for sale at 1450LE.

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Cairo Weekend Guide: Live Music, New Party Series & New Art

Hello Cairo! A three-day weekend beckons and the gods have gifted us with warmer weather. If ever there was a time to shake off the inevitable temptation of weekend idleness, it's now. Although, staying in bed and watching something on a laptop is also pretty sweet, actually. Whatever the case, ther