Cairo Cafés

Dukes: Delicious Baked Goods at Heliopolis Patisserie
Published On: 31/01/2015

Bakeries are in no short supply around Cairo and while roaming the streets of Heliopolis, we came across a city favourite - Dukes. With its slick black and white facade and reputation for delicious dirt cakes, it was time to drop in and see how the years have treated this venue. Upon entry, we found a large glass display of colourful selection of gateaux, dirt cakes, tarts, macaroons and giant cupcakes. Additionally, Dukes also serves soups, salads, sandwiches, vegetable casseroles, pasta and main courses, alongside bread, mini pizzas and other baked goodies. After much contemplation, we opted for the Black Forest Gateaux (15LE), Chocolate Dirt Cake (25LE), Charlotte Gateaux (15LE), and a Mini Smoked Salmon Cake (12LE). The only table at the venue was occupied, so we took our orders to go. The Mini Smoked Salmon Cakes were pretty simple and was layered in thin white bread with salmon paste in between, and covered entirely with smoked salmon slices. While the portion was tiny in comparison to its price, the fresh salmon and surprisingly flavourful salmon paste wa quite a treat. The Black Forest, a rectangular cake with multiple layers of chocolate topped with whipped cream, had a satisfying amount of chocolate, but the excessive cream overpowered everything and made things quite messy. We recommend the Chocolate Dirt Cake to true chocoholics instead. The combination of moist chocolate and thin layered cake was the highlight; we only wish the decorative flowers on top were edible as well. The Charlotte Chateaux, meanwhile, was a fruity masterpiece, consisting of a creamy cheesecake filling, topped with slices of strawberries, and engulfed in a pink sugar icing that holds it all together. The flavours complement each other perfectly into a delicious piece of gateaux. Unable to try anything else in fear of a sugar coma, we stopped there. Dukes is definitely one of the top patisseries in town thanks to its huge andcreative menu; it's a shame there isn't any space to enjoy the food there, though.

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Waffle Station: Excellent Sweet & Savoury Waffle Creations at Americana Plaza Mall
Published On: 29/01/2015

There's something about going to see a movie that requires constant snacking. At Americana Plaza, the area surrounding the cinema has booths serving everything from ice cream to hotdogs and cupcakes. What really caught our eye, however, was the Waffle Station booth. The menu isn't exactly huge, but offers traditional sweet waffles, as well as savoury sandwiches, alongside milkshakes and coffee. The savoury options all use waffles as bread, including the Cheese Burger (28LE), Chicken and Cheese (27LE), and Club Sandwich (22LE). The desserts include the Sugar and Cinnamon waffle (25LE), Philadelphia Cheese Cake waffle (27LE), Apple and Cinnamon waffle (25LE), or you can create your own where each sauce or topping costs an additional 5LE, and a bowl of ice cream costs 9LE. We opted for the Cheese Burger and Chicken and Cheese  alongside the Sugar and Cinnamon with additional ice cream. When we were reluctant about the Philadelphia Cheese Cake waffle (27LE), the server offered us to try it. We're not too proud to admit that he was right and ordered one as well. The savoury options tasted just as delicious as they looked. Taking a little longer to prepare than the desserts, the Cheese Burger, topped with melted cheese, onions, lettuce, ketchup and mayo, was very tasty yet surprisingly light. Similarly with the Chicken, topped with cheese and lettuce, we couldn't decide our favourite. The chicken was cooked very well, and all the ingredients were fresh, and packaged very neatly. While neither of them was particularly filling, we still thoroughly enjoyed them. The desserts were simply incredible. Topped with walnuts, icing and ice cream, the Sugar and Cinnamon waffle, was our favourite between the desserts. The Philadelphia Cheese Cake topped with berry sauce, despite the novelty, just couldn't fare up to the Sugar and Cinnamon. We found Waffle Station to be a very enjoyable experience. It's not easy to create something delicious with minimal ingredients, let alone create something new.

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Pottery Café: Laid Back Branch of Popular Café in New Cairo’s Meeting Point
Published On: 24/01/2015

Egypt's endless collection of cafés seems to have a single identifier: excessive noise. While occcasions often call for the hustle and bustle of a Cairo cafe, one needs to hang out somewhere hushed and more relaxed every now and again for the sake of one's sanity. Located in one of New Cairo's Meeting Point, Pottery Cafe offers a small indoor seating area, as well as a less attractive, semi-indoor, tent-covered seating area.  Opting for the indoor seating area, we took our seats amongst the almost exclusively white interior, with the exception of a single, brightly coloured wall. The café was neither packed, nor noisy in any way during our visit, making for a generally tranquil ambiance. A waiter made his way to us a couple of minutes later, with menus in hand. For those not familiar with the popular chain, Pottery Café surprisingly offers an adequate selection of dishes, considering it does not label itself as a restaurant. From salads, pizzas, pastas, fajitas, steaks, sandwiches and burgers to basic desserts, one can definitely assemble a filling meal here. As for drinks, everything from frappes, smoothies, milkshakes and juices are offered. As soon as we made up our mind, our waiter came by and immediately jotted down our order, arriving back with it about 30 minutes later. Our margarita pizza (33LE) came with the requested toppings of black olives (10LE) and mushrooms (6LE) and was satisfactory yet unspectacular, as was the Quattro Formaggi pizza (42LE). Both were cooked well and without any disastrous faults, but simply lacked any flair or points of interest, so to speak. The Fettuccini Alfredo pasta (39LE) was, on the other hand, quite lip-smacking with the cream sauce having just the right consistency and the penne pasta being well-cooked. It did, however, lack a considerable amount of chicken cubes. In a nutshell, though branding itself as a café, Pottery Café does a sufficient job at offering an ample array of food options. Though the pizzas were, at best, average, the pasta was quite delectable. And, lest we forget, the café's general quietness is refreshing and its service to be on point.

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Rigoletto: Classic Egyptian Ice Cream Chain Opens Shabby New Branch in Maadi
Published On: 21/01/2015

When it comes to confectionaries and buying sweets in Egypt, people rarely stray from what they've tried and tested. Every time your parents visit someone and bring konafa, basboosa or gateau, we can guarantee it's always from the same vendor - Egyptians are a habitual people. Egypt's oldest ice cream vendor, Rigoletto, is no different. Having been around since the late 1980s, Rigoletto is known for not just the ice cream, but for cakes and other goodies as well. With a new branch on Road 233 in Maadi, we thought we would go check it out. Now, if you have never tried Rigoletto before, this particular venue will not entice you to. Extremely underwhelming, the venue consists of white walls, a cake fridge and an ice cream fridge. There is no décor and there's no ambiance. Now, most vendors could never pull that off, but when you have an extremely well known brand, nobody really cares about what the store looks like, so long as the sweets are still good. So without further fuss we opted for a slice of Cheesecake (14LE) and two scoops of Vanilla Croquant Ice Cream (16LE). The full size cheesecakes cost either 80LE or 100LE depending on the size, while the ice cream can also come in 150ml boxes (10LE) or 1L boxes (55LE). Our server swiftly prepared our orders offering to top the cheesecake with strawberry syrup for an additional 5LE. We agreed and took our desserts to the car, because there's nowhere to sit. The Cheesecake was very delicious and had an interesting consistency that worked particularly well with the crust. The syrup might be too sweet for some, especially since the taste of cream cheese isn't very striking, so it isn't for the faint hearted. The Vanilla Croquant Ice Cream was a pleasure as well. Topped with caramel and hazelnuts, the blend of flavors and textures gives a new dimension to the creamy ice cream. While the brand name carries a reputation and a loyalty, resting on your laurels is a dangerous game to play; there's so much competition these days that this new branch of Rigoletto may find that, despite, their consistent quality, the trendier brands might trump them in the long run.

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Nola Cupcakes: Popular Cupcake Store Opens Up in Cairo Festival City Mall
Published On: 06/01/2015

It's definitely hard to keep impressing after being around for quite some time, but Nola somehow seems to be constantly on top of its game. If it isn't a new branch popping up, it's some new creation; they always have some kind of surprise up their sleeve for us. Located in Cairo Festival City Mall, Nola's newest branch boasts its signature Mint-dominated colour scheme and whimsical, Alice-In-Wonderland-Like interior. With huge cupcake displays to the left and an adequate seating area consisting of white, floral chairs and tables to the right, the place feels quite cosy yet chic. The dangling chandelier and bright lighting of the place also add a nice touch, as well as the blackboard with the menu sprawled on it in colourful chalk. Walking in and taking a quick look at the cupcake displays, we were greeted by one of the two servers present at the time. Friendly, informative and quite amicable, he helped us choose flavours that best suited our mood. Offering cupcakes (8.5-14 LE) in all imaginable flavours, Nola doesn't stop at that, with several flavours of Cronuts (12-15 LE), as well as Cheesecake Cups (14-15 LE) available. The cupcakes are also offered in three sizes: regular, mini (31.5 LE/7 pieces) and grand. Opting for quite a mixture of the regular-sized cupcakes, we went for the Pralines N' Cream (13 LE),  Red Velvet (10.5 LE), Chocolate Peanut Butter (12 LE), Chocolate (12 LE) and Blueberry (10 LE) ones. Our verdict? All of them, without an exception, tasted fresh, creamy and absolutely lip-smacking. Our favourites, however, were the Pralines N' Cream and the Chocolate Peanut Butter, whose frostings were unbelievably decadent.   In a nutshell, being one of the main initiators of the cupcake trend in Egypt, Nola is definitely held on a pedestal when it comes to us always expecting the best of the best from them. Judging by the lovely staff, the breath-taking design of the place and the undeniable freshness of the cupcakes, Nola both met and exceeded our expectations.

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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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Cairo Weekend Guide: Cairo Flea Market, Tania Saleh, Cinderella the Ballet & More!

Hello Cairo! A sunny few days is teasing us with the promises of better weather as we count down the days to summer, but it fares well for the weekend ahead with Cairo's nightlife venues, theatres and cultural spaces playing host to an eclectic range of events. On Thursday, Cairo Jazz Club kicks of