Cairo Cafés

Nino's: Zamalek's Newest Bakery & Dessert Shop
Published On: 16/11/2015

If you tried to count how many bakeries and dessert shops there are in Zamalek, you'll quickly run out of fingers – and possibly toes. But Cairenes have a notorious collective sweet-tooth that is seemingly passed on generation to generation, and the latest store to capitalise on this inherited love of all things sweet comes in the form of Nino's – a name that was spotted at many bazaars and food events in the past. Located on Al Mansour Mohamed Street, the aesthetic of the venue combines kitsch - think traditional wooden ahwa chairs - and the fluffiness of a cupcake shop – think pinks, whites and photos of baked goodies. Like many venues of its kind, in-store seating is minimal; there's one table on the right of the entrance and a bar with high chairs on the left, with the counter facing the shop-front. Browsing the display case and ordering was a little more difficult than it should have been; none of the items were labelled with prices or names, prompting us to ask a million and one questions to the one staff member holding down the fort. We eventually dived headfirst in the jar-stored cakes – one containing chocolate cake and the other containing chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla cream (25LE each). We also tried a Nutella cupcake (15LE) as well as a chocolate and vanilla cupcake (15LE) and a brownie (10LE) – yeah, we were hungry that day. Unfortunately, all the items had one thing in common – they were dry, which was especially strange with the jar-cakes, whose layered build would suggest that they would be moist. Dryness aside, the chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla cream cake jar stood as the highlight. The slight saltiness of the peanut butter was a perfect foil for the sweetness of the chocolate and the creaminess of the vanilla. The plain chocolate cake was just a little too sweet and the chocolate cream contained un-caramelised sugar, giving it an unpleasant graininess. The issue with dryness, meanwhile, effected the brownie most; it lacked that very specific moist chewiness and was actually a little crumbly – and the same could be said for the cupcakes. There was little difference between the Nutella and chocolate-vanilla and the latter's blue icing tasted heavily artificial. Overall, we couldn't help but be disappointed at the time of our visit to Nino's. Visually, it ticks all the boxes, the items are incredibly alluring and the rise of Nino's as a pop-up stall to full-blown shop should be commended; however, the shop needs several tweaks before it can really make an impact – all the ingredients are there.


Zack’s Bakery & Café: Simple, Fresh Breakfast at Rehab City Bakery
Published On: 12/11/2015

Nothing beats the smell and taste of freshly baked pastries coming right out of the oven with a cup of cappuccino; which is why we headed over to Zack's in Rehab City, Located inside Smiley's Grill takeaway restaurant – a location which caught us off guard - we entered what was a small, six-table shop, furnished with leather sofas, chairs and bookshelves filled with old books with some euphonious jazz music playing at the background. Excited to try out some fresh bites, we checked the menu which had a selection of some typical bakery eats such as sandwiches, loaves, cakes, pies and cookies. It caught our attention that some of Zack's displayed items – especially the croissants- were still missing from the menu. We kicked things off with a brown bread tuna sandwich served with some salty chips (23LE). Enveloped in a multigrain, crunchy and savoury brown bread, our tuna sandwich infused with vegetables was quite tasty and the salty chips on the side complemented it perfectly. Looking to try Zack's desserts, the diversity of sweet bites including brownies, pies and cookies; we went for Zack's signature chocolate biscuit cake (18 LE). Comprised of small pieces of biscuit blended smoothly with chocolate and coated with a thin yet rich chocolate layer, our chocolate biscuit cake was perfect. We concluded with a refreshing Ice Latte (24LE) and a Heart Beet cocktail (25LE) – a vegetable and fruit blend – which was among several other large and healthy energising drinks. A mix of Cabbage, half lemon, half orange and a green apple, the Heart Beet cocktail was a match made in heaven; a guiltless cocktail drink which was both tasty and quite fulfilling - the perfect end to our breakfast. Perhaps Zack's location is somewhat unconventional – some might even think it's a turnoff – but the food, the music, the reasonable prices and the attentive staff made our experience quite pleasurable and all the more worthy.


Sweet Frog: Fro-Yo Fun at Mall of Arabia
Published On: 25/10/2015

Like so many fads in Cairo, frozen yoghurt came, saw and conquered the minds, hearts and sweet-teeth of many a Cairene. Egyptians love all things sweet – regardless of what time of the year it is – and frozen yoghurt is no different, with several fro-yo specialists enjoying popularity across the city, mostly in malls. Several have even used the healthy snacking angle, while the endless customisation options only sweeten the deal. This is the case for one of the newer ones in town, Sweet Frog. In a matter of five years, the American chain has gone on to settle into almost 350 locations – from the UK, to South Korea, to the Dominican Republic, to 6th of October City's Mall of Arabia. As is the case with other frozen yoghurt joints, you're left to your own self-serving devices; pick an appropriatey-sized cup, fill it with the desired flavour of yoghurt, then go nuts at the toppings station. Said toppings station affords you a fittingly eclectic range of munchables, including cereals, nuts, chocolates, gummy sweets – the list goes on. One of the first things Cairo's fro-yo fiends will notice is that Sweet Frog's cup sizes just make more sense; unlike other stores, the smallest cup isn't insultingly small and the largest isn't needlessly big. Either way, you are master of your own destiny when it comes to pricing as it's all done by weight. But let's get to the important parts – the creation and consumption of frozen yoghurt. We decided to see if we really could put together a healthy snack, growing for the low-fat option, with muesli with chocolate and coconut (160gm/28LE) – that's pretty healthy, right? Unfortunately, the low-fat yoghurt was also low on flavour, having little-to-no discernible taste. Luckily the toppings added the required flavour, but the whole creation lacked the creaminess and subtle sourness of yoghurt. Deciding to get a little more experimental with our next fro-yo, we went for plain yoghurt and water melon yoghurt together in one cup – yeah, we like to live on the edge – as well as a coffee and chocolate (155gm/26LE). combo, the latter of which were outstanding, especially in tandem, with the sweetness of the chocolate working well the slight bitterness of the coffee The water melon, meanwhile, was excellent, too, so much so that we would recommend trying it by itself. Generally, at the time of our visit, the toppings station was a little bare in the sweets and chocolate department, but everything in the fruit section was glowing with a noticeable freshness. All in all, it's difficult to weigh up these kinds of places next to each other, because few of them really do anything different and rely on being weirder and wackier when it comes to the toppings. What Sweet Frog does deviate with to a certain extent, is the types of fro-yo offered – just to reiterate, the water melon is fantastic.


El Forn: Reasonably-Priced Bakery at Sheikh Zayed's Downtown Mall
Published On: 20/10/2015

While the endless expansion of the Cairo areas such as 6th of October City and New Cairo is well-documented, Shiekh Zayed doesn't seem to get the same attention despite being home to some of the best dining and entertainment facilities in the city, the latest of which has come in the form of Downtown Mall, where we came across El Forn. Presentation is the name of the game for the bakery, which was first caught by Cairo 360 radars thanks to its Facebook page and website, which position the venue as a one-stop shop for all your baked needs. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, much of the 'menu' was unavailable, though El Forn generally offers everything from breads and croissants, to cupcakes and donuts. As a space, El Forn carries an easy, airy vibe. Off-white walls and wooden fixtures come together to create a pleasant and simple aesthetic. Of the items available, we went for 1/8 kg of Menen with rouny cheese and 1/8 kg of Menen with white cheese and olives – both 50LE per kg each. With a fairly generous amount of filling, they were surprisingly light, unlike the ghee-heavy ones you might find elsewhere. A chocolate muffin soon lured us and at 7LE, it would be criminal not to try what turned out to be a rich and chocolate-heavy snack. The muffin opened the proverbial floodgates; next up on our anonymous tasting-tour was a small custard donut (5LE) – large donuts sell for 8LE – which was soft, sprinkled with plenty of powdered sugar, though it could have done with a little more custard. Of the other many temptations at El Forn we took away a pack of two seeded baguettes (9LE) and some Baton Sale with sesame seeds (32LE per kg). The former were unremarkable but proved great value-for-money, while the latter were a little soft to the bite, rather than crunchy – in all fairness, however, they were delicious and there are crumbs and sesame seeds across the keyboard as we speak. While El Forn's baked goods might not be on the same level as some of the other more established bakeries in Cairo, their great prices and advantageous location suggest that it'll be around for some time to come.


Nutelleria Egypt: First Nutella Shop in Cairo Meets Expectations & Then Some
Published On: 09/08/2015

One day, someone will tell the story of how the world fell in love with a hazelnut chocolate spread created in a small town in Italy. Yes, we speak of the worldwide phenomenon that is Nutella. Few countries love to indulge in their sweet-tooth than Egypt and so news of a Nutelleria shop opening at Porto Cairo Mall and bringing Nutella-infused happiness was greeted with a delirium – and we're not exaggerating when we say that. With fresh smell of baked chocolate treats ghosting through the area, Nutelleria's Porto Cairo mall shop is difficult to miss. Decorated with several sizes of Nutella jar – including gigantic ones – and an extravagant melting chocolate fountain, our arrival and amazement was something akin to when Charlie entered into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Excited to try out everything and anything, we ordered a chocolate waffle infused with Nutella (24LE), a plain waffle with Nutella topping (24LE), a date tart with Nutella sauce (25LE) and a 'Nutella injection' – Nutelleria's avant-gardist approach to consuming Nutella through a syringe (10LE). With the venues still in soft opening mode, some items on the menu are unavailable – but everything we were able to get our hands on were outstanding. The waffles were the perfect combo of soft and crispy, smooth and chewy, with the Nutella adding the perfect chocolate kick. The base of the date tart was crunchy and crisp making for a perfect textural contrast with the soft dates and rich Nutella sauce. We then sealed the deal with a Nutella injection comprised of Nutella's pure hazelnut spread – it's like a neater version of eating Nutella with a spoon. Recovering from our Nutella fiesta, we were offered a complimentary Fiore Tea by the friendly staff; a tea made from a dry flower that blooms in hot water. Served with basil leaves, the tea, which filled the air with a strong, sweet aroma of sweetness, was perfectly soothing. Nutelleria also offers a large variety of cheesecakes, assorted tarts, ice-cream, as well as many other chocolaty items, soon to be available after their ground opening – and based on our visit, we can't wait. In the end the experience delivered what it promised. There's no critiquing Nutella itself – it is what it is – but as fans, we were relieved to find that the kitchen's craft was up to scratch – let's just hope it stays that way.


 Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream: A Fiesta of Flavours on Maadi's Road 9
Published On: 29/07/2015

Ella Fitzgerald surely wasn't right when she serenaded Summertime and the Living is Easy; because it isn't, not in this heat. Perhaps if you're not on the beach tanning, a large scoop of the creamy, rich and refreshing ice cream that is Cold Stone and Creamery, is all the treat you need around this time of the year. With its newly opened branch in Maadi on Street 9, Cold Stone Creamery will have your head turning with a colorful selection of insanely tasty flavors, its freshly baked biscuits invigorating your nostrils and its miniscule to gigantic ice cream sizes. Between the creamy rich vanilla, the coffee-infused mocha, the multi-colored berry fiesta, the nation's most beloved nutella flavor and many others, the choice was obvious; pick one flavor and take forever to choose, or spend all our cash delving into all the ice cream flavors available in the store. After picking the largest ice cream biscuit-which you can order plain or with chocolate, we opted for four different flavors; a large scoop of oreo ice cream (17LE), another with dark chocolate flavor (17LE), a cotton candy flavor-an instant throwback to our childhood (13LE) and a mint-flavored ice cream scoop (13LE). The insane flavorful fiesta of ice cream didn't disappoint; they were all unique, tasty and quite delightful. We would've however preferred if the ice cream texture was thicker but the delicious flavors that pampered our taste buds completely made up for that. Tempted to try out more of what Cold Stone Creamery offers, we opted for a 'Strawberry Blonde' waffle with a blackberry sauce, marshmallows, strawberry and vanilla ice cream filling (35LE with 7LE for every additional filling). The waffle was insanely tasty; only the marshmallows were quite dry. Cold Stone and Creamery also has a fantastic selection of milkshakes from which we ordered a refreshing Blackberry milkshake (30LE). Overall, tasting most of all the flavors Cold Stone Creamery has in store for us was an incredible experience that will surely keep us coming to quench our ice cream urges. Perhaps if there was more room into our tummies, we would've definitely ordered the zesty lemon ice cream which was light, sour and super refreshing. Check out Cold Stone Creamery's ice cream and dessert menu on their Facebook page.


Eid 2015: Where to Buy Kahk & Other Eid Treats in Cairo
Published On: 14/07/2015

With Eid all but here, Cairo's obsessive gaze will turn away from konafa, basbousa and the other traditional Ramadan turns, to that simple little thing called kahk. The biscuit-cake hybrid doesn't leave as much room for bakeries in Cairo to be as creative and experimental as is the case with the konafas and basbousas of the world, but that doesn't mean Cairo's confectioners aren't going all out – here's where to get your kahk from this Eid El Abd With an unprecedented crowd vigorously awaiting its kahk at this time every year, making scrumptious kahk is surely one of El Abd's specialties. Whether it's plain sugar-coated Kahk or the ones infused with nuts, El Abd is a leader in kahk-making. The shop is also known for its refreshing ice cream and for offering a wide range of oriental desserts. Abdel Rahim Koueider Abdel Rahim Koueider is known for being the go-to shop if your sweet tooth is craving oriental desserts. During this Eid, Abdel Rahim Koueider offers a wide range of kahk fillings including plain butter kahk, pistachio kahk, walnuts kahk as well as kahk infused with Turkish delight. Tseppas Another go-to shop if you would like to try out a delicious selection of oriental desserts, Tseppas has a selection of tasty as well as affordable kahk, petit four and ghorayeba for you to try out this Eid. Tortina Widely popular for fashioning oriental deserts with creative western twists, whether with their konafa infused with Nutella or their best-selling Panna Cotta this Ramadan, Tortina are leaders in making the best creative desserts out there. Treat yourself with their selection of creative specialties this Eid including their Nutella kahk, red velvet kahk, their mouth-watering pistachio ghorayeba and their petit four collection. La Poire When it comes to perfecting desserts, La Poire knows what they're doing. La Poire is one of Egypt's leading pastry shops known for producing desserts inspired by French pastry and combining it with our own oriental baking. This year, La Poire offers a delectable assortment of their kahk best-sellers, including walnut kahk, Turkish delight kahk, pistachio kahk and many more. Salé Sucré Another leading pastry shop offering a wide variety of goodies from trifles, fruit cakes, cheese cakes, and many others, Salé Sucré celebrates Eid this year with a wide selection of kahk, cookies and petit four wrapped in fancy boxes to complement the festive mood. Bisco Masr A leader in the field of kahk-making, Bisco Masr takes pride in producing 100% Egyptian cookies and for being one of the local brands best established for making quality and affordable kahk, as well as a appetizing selection of other types of cookies including ghorayeba and cinnamon cookies. Dukes Best known for their crowd-pleasing delicious dirt cakes, Dukes is exciting its fans this Eid by bringing colours to their kahk. Dukes Kahk and biscuits are now available upon order with different colours and flavours, promising a tasty treat. Lamandine Widely popular for its insanely tasty chocolate mousse croquant cake and for a costly yet delectable medley of desserts, Lamadine offers you this Eid a selection of kahk goodies that we can hardly wait to try out. Le Carnval Whether with their tiny Maltesers cream konafa or with their delightful Mont Blanc Konafa which was a treat for the eyes and the taste buds, Le Carnaval never disappoints. This Eid, Le Carnaval offers a delicious selection of kahk and petit four wrapped in fancy rectangular boxes promising to satisfy all your senses. Happy Eid!


Tortina: Dessert Chain Scores Big with Inventive Ramadan Specials
Published On: 06/07/2015

Spicing up Konafa with brand new fresh and creative fillings has become a common Ramadan trend in all the pastry shops and bakeries across Cairo – think of it as this generation's contribution to Ramadan tradition. We've seen the infamous Nutella infused konafa, the viral red velvet and konafa topped with meringue, dates and fresh cream – the list goes on. There's certainly plenty out there, but experience has shown us that not all of these Frankenstein creations work;which is why we were thrilled with how heavenly – yes, heavenly – Tortina's Mango Konafa turned out to be. Paying a visit to Tortina's Maadi branch, we were immediately struck by the succulent selection of crisp, amber-colour konafa dishes with more toppings and fillings than the mind can comprehend. Tortina's konafa specialties include Konafa Mars Cheesecake, Black Forest Konafa, Nutella-layered Konafa Bowl and a rather tempting Strawberry and Cream filled Crispy Konafa. One of the pleasant staff members recommended the Mango Panna Cotta pyrex (210LE) – Tortina's signature dessert dish this Ramadan comprising of konafa, fresh cream, Panna Cotta and fresh mangoes. Naturally we dared not say no, because, well, you try saying no that. While the combination of konafa with cream and/or mango is one of the more widely accepted of these Ramadan variations, this one had one intriguing addition; mango flavoured panna cotta. So, here's how it goes; a layer of fresh cream anchors the creation, which is topped by a layer of fresh mangoes; on top of that is the konafa, while on top of that, is the panna cotta. While panna cotta's jelly-like consistency may not be the first thing you'd want to pair with konafa, the whole thing works. So fresh, so smooth and so flavourful, the panna cotta instantly melted in our mouths, though, overall, the dessert needed a few more mango slices. In addition to konafa, Tortina also offers a wide selection of traditional Egyptian sweets and desserts, including basbousa and katayef available in different sizes and prices- 55LE for small platters, 65LE for medium sized ones and 75LE for bigger platters. Many bemoan these kooky twists on traditional favourites and few execute them as well as Tortina has this year. They haven't simply bunged a load of ingredients on a konafa; these creations have been though through, they've been crafted and, maybe most importantly, they're unique.


Ruffles House: Ramadan Treats at Charming Bakery in Sheikh Zayed
Published On: 04/07/2015

Many come out of the end of Ramadan packing a few more pounds than they did entering it – an inevitable conclusion to the Holy Month, thanks to traditionally lavish fetars, late-night sohour and, of course, the heightened intake of desserts and sweets. It certainly doesn't help that confectioners and bakers across the city battle for hearts, minds and stomachs every year with all manner of kooky adaptation to classic Egyptian favourites like konafa and basboosa – so, in a way it's their fault. Right? One such place that is as guilty of driving our sweet-tooth cravings into overdrive is Ruffles House, thanks to some visually delicious and rich images of the Sheikh Zayed vendor's festive specials doing the rounds on social media in the lead-up to Ramadan; because let's be honest for a second – there's something irresistibly cute about a dessert in a mason jar. Sorry, make that three different sizes of mason jar. Cute. But let's backtrack for a second; Ruffles House actually has two branches in the area – one inside Beverly Hills compound and the other in the little-known Curve Mall, which is located behind Tivoli Dome, and the one we visited. The mall is still under construction and Ruffles House is the only venue open at the moment, meaning that you needn't worry about long queues and mad crowds any time soon. Of the several options we were faced with, we went for small jars of konafa with mango (21LE), red velvet basbousa (25LE) and filo pastry and date cupcake (21LE), as well as a jar of cherry cheesecake (25LE) – the latter isn't a Ramadan special, but looked too good not to try. Pardon us for sounding like a broken record, but we need to talk about the mason jars again; it makes for a fantastic visual, showing you layers of colourful deliciousness all piled onto each other - an appetising sight if we ever saw one. The konafa with mango was surprisingly light but, despite tasting fresh, desperately needed more cream to break the richness of the mango and the sweet crunch of the konafa itself. Popular among bakeries in Cairo this year, the red velvet basbousa, is a little different than most. While many incorporate the food dye in the basbousa, Ruffles House's version also uses plain layers of basbousa. Although it was full of flavour, there were two points that let the dessert down; the first was the fact that the basboosa was perhaps a little undercooked – it was pale in colour and lacked that pleasing golden finish. In addition, it was also a little too sweet to keep going back for more. The filo pastry and date cupcake, meanwhile, was a mixed bag; while the dates were used to good effect, much of the filo pastry was soggy, rather than crunchy, and needed more frosting or cream – something to help it go down a little bit smoother. Ironically, the standout was the non-Ramadan specific, cherry cheesecake; everything worked perfectly. The layers of biscuit were rich and buttery, the cream was fresh and, well, creamy, and the pieces of cherry gave the dessert just the right amount of subtle acidity. Presentation-wise, Ruffles House can't be faulted – we'd challenge anyone to walk in and not walk out with several jars of goodies. Unfortunately, small miscues ruined what could have been perfect desserts – but that doesn't mean we won't be going back for more.


La Poire: Confectionary Chain Delivers the Goods with Special Ramadan Desserts
Published On: 29/06/2015

As per the last few years, Cairo's bakeries and confectionaries have gone all out this Ramadan in an effort to outdo each other in the creativity department when it comes to traditional Egyptian desserts and sweets – and La Poire is no different. A giant in its field, quality has never been issue of La Poire and, this year, there's no shortage of options, either. Visiting the one of the Maadi branches, we would challenge anyone to step into a La Poire during Ramadan and not be overcome by indecision – there's just so much to take in. At the time of our visit, the branch had already begun selling kahk – traditionally made by bakeries and households alike in Eid – but we were drawn almost immediately to the Nutella konafa, as well as its mango counterpart, and ready-packaged Oriental sweet boxes for just 40LE per box. Sold only in whole, we tried the konafa with berries (150LE), which is essentially structured in two halves; the top half features berries over cream, while the lower half is where the konafa comes in, with layers of it and more cream continuing to the bottom of the bowl that it comes in. Tasting every bit as delicious as it looked, the real surprise was how fresh the cream was, as well as the pure taste of the berries. It all made for a surprisingly light and airy dessert, with the contrast in textures ensuring you go back for a second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth bite. Other traditional desserts with kooky, modern spins at La Poire include Red Velvet basbousa (160LE) – and its konafa version (150LE) – which has been the talk of the town – well, social media – as well as a particular creation that brings together basbousa, konafa, cake and pistachio. Not the faint of heart, the dessert sells for a whopping 190LE and is one of the more outrageous appropriations of classic Egyptian sweets to emerge this Ramadan. Other, simpler options include the slightly more established and aforementioned konafa with mango (150LE) and the and inevitably super-sweet and ever-so-slightly over-priced konafa with Nutella (175LE), as well as Aish Saraya cake with pistachios (150LE). Many bemoan what was once called by our friends at Cairo Gossip "the perversion of desserts, " but there's an intangible thrill about consuming these quirky versions of Egyptian classics – a thrill you will readily find at La Poire this Ramadan. 


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Valentine’s in Cairo: Where to Go & What to Do in Egypt’s Capital

'Tis beginning to look a lot like Valentine's; giant red hearts, puffy helium balloons and enormous red teddy bears hovering are all over the streets of Cairo. But we're here to tell you that your Valentine's Day doesn't have to be that soppy; with plenty of restaurants, hotels and clubs hosting Val