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Cafe Supreme: Mall of Arabia Branch Does Justice to Consistent Restaurant & Cafe Chain
Published On: 14/04/2015

When it comes to the success of emerging restaurant or café chains, consistency is key and, more often than not, it's difficult to come by on Cairo's dining scene – even between different branches of the same chain. When we headed to Café Supreme's 6 of October City branch, located amongst the outdoor restaurants and cafés across the fountain, we had our fingers crossed that it would be just as impressive as its counterpart branches, which we had previously visited. As soon as we were seated in the indoor area, menus, boasting the café's usual line-up of risk-free dishes and beverages, were presented to us.  Going for the Chicken Caesar Salad (40LE), Fungi Pizza (43 LE), Supreme Signature Pasta (49 LE), and the Pesto Chicken Sandwich with a side of Caesar salad (39 LE), along with sodas, we awaited our order patiently. The drinks made their way to our table within a couple of minutes, with slightly dusty-looking cups, which our waiter instantly proceeded to exchange with cleaner ones. The food arrived about fifteen minutes later and we didn't look back from there. The Chicken Caesar Salad came in quite an ample portion with heaps and heaps of lettuce topped with strips of well-cooked and well-seasoned grilled chicken, croutons and shredded cheese drenched in Caesar dressing. It tasted quite fresh, but it was very short on dressing making it a little dry at times. With a thin crust holding a layer of fresh tomato sauce topped with mozzarella cheese, fresh mushrooms and black olives served on a wooden peel, the pizza was quite light and delicious – the fact that the mushrooms were fresh and not canned added a nice touch. The pasta, which came in penne form as requested, boasted a delicious, albeit too-heavy, cream sauce and grilled chicken strips, while the pesto chicken sandwich came in brown baguette, also as requested, with grilled chicken strips topped with tomatoes, lettuce and pesto mayo sauce that a little more of would've been appreciated. All in all, Café Supreme's Mall of Arabia branch does the chain justice in maintaining its consistency. We could speculate all day long what their trick is – but with excellent service and simple but well-executed dishes, why question a good thing, right?

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La Pizza Alforno: Italian Pizzeria Misses the Mark at Citystars
Published On: 14/04/2015

Few cuisines are more saturated on the Cairo dining scene than Italian cuisine – Lebanese is a strong contender, but it's Italian that, more often than not, is quit divisive when it comes to that tricky little thing called authenticity. Some restaurants are able to capture what the cuisine is about, while others fail entirely. Cairo 360 had previously paid a visit to La Pizza Alforno's Sheikh Zayed branch and the reviewer largely enjoyed their time there, but, in our experience, that doesn't even begin to guarantee that its Citystars branch would be as successful – consistency is another field that few restaurants maintain.   Sporting the same redbrick oven, the decor is definitely part of the restaurant's highlights, especially when you consider it a sanctuary of sorts from the hustle and bustle of the mall. The staff were immediately very helpful, and polite, upon entry, showing us to our seats and placing menus on our table with the type of subtle urgency that any growling, hungry diner needs. We opted for a Mussels Trio (55LE) to start off the meal – mussels in a tomato sauce with garlic. While it was on the greasy side, it was so flavourful that we'd have been very happy with more. Looking for some kind of lubricant for the carb-heavy meal ahead, we ordered Lemon and Mint (16LE) and Orange (16LE) juices – both were fresh and flavourful. The menu doesn't offer a lot of variety when it comes to pastas and we opted for the Shrimp Fettuccini (62LE). Though the pasta was cooked well – something that is by no means a certainty across Cairo – and it was all seasoned well, it was everything else that let the dish down. What was meant to be a creamy sauce was actually very runny in consistency, while the shrimp was cooked unevenly. Hoping the pizza could salvage the situation, the Mama Mia Pizza (55LE) disappointed, too. The promised pepperoni was scarce – as was the mozzarella – and although the base was cooked to pleasing balance of crunch-and-chew, the addition of cheddar cheese did the pizza no favours; it dried and hardened to an almost waxy consistency fairly quickly and, if its use is the cause of having such little mozzarella, was just unnecessary. Hoping to end on a high note with Crème Brule (26LE), the dessert disappointed, too. The best part of a Crème Brule, hands down, is the layer of caramelised sugar on top – call us pretentious, but there's something incredibly satisfying about cracking through the brittle layer. Unfortunately, however, there was no such satisfaction; the top had barely been kissed by a flame and the rest was ever so slightly undercooked. It's unfortunate that, at the time of our visit, much of the food disappointed. La Pizza Alforno has all the ingredients to be a top Italian restaurant in Cairo, but lack of attention to detail derailed any hope of that.

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Oysho: Classy Beachwear, Loungewear & Lingerie by Spanish Brand at Mall of Arabia
Published On: 13/04/2015

Brace yourselves, summer is upon us- and so is the new season of Game of Thrones, clearly, but let's focus on the shopping. 'Tis the season of regretting all the food we've been going around the capital trying out for the past few months, especially the moment we find ourselves squeezing into tiny pieces of fabric to parole around in on the beach. Feeling the need to stock up on a few essentials, we visited Oysho in Mall of Arabia. Despite not being big in size, the Spanish loungewear, lingerie and swimwear brand's branch in the 6th of October City mall manages to offer quite an inclusive display of lingerie and beachwear. The whole relaxed colour scheme of the place, complimented by a laid back music playlist, set the ambiance for a stress-free shopping spree. What will immediately strike you about the store's offerings is that, from the designs, to the colours, to the cuts, it's all very demure and classy – there's nothing that can be accused of being tacky here. The swimsuit and beachwear section, which dominates the front side of the shop, drew us in with its display of colourful pieces. From bikinis, to one-piece swimsuits, to light cover-ups, all beach essentials are offered. From the pool of swimsuits offered, a hot pink strapless number (499LE), as well as a teal tie-up one-piece swimsuit (399LE) caught our eyes, as did the Paisley print bikini top (259LE) and bottoms (169LE). When it comes to lingerie, Oysho keeps things sophisticated yet simple, with practical and comfy items. We spotted lace push up bras (259LE), as well as lace briefs (169LE), amongst a few other lingerie options. Oysho not only offers lingerie and swimsuits, but also a few pieces of casual apparel, including a long, deep pink maxi dress (499LE) and floral print shorts (299LE), amongst other garments. Finally, praise should be given where it's deserved and the sales personnel definitely deserve some, thanks to their helpful attitude and general friendliness. They managed to get us our sizes in many of the items we requested, and resourcefully offered alternatives to the ones which were out of stock. Moreover, they continued to get us whatever we needed whilst we were trying things on in the fitting rooms, making our whole visit smoother, with less hassle involved.

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Shaun the Sheep Movie: Simple, Unpretentious Animation for Adults & Kids Alike
Published On: 12/04/2015

Based on the Shaun the Sheep highly-popular television series – which in itself is a spin-off of the much-loved stop animation franchise of Wallace and Gromit – the big-screen version of Aardman Studios' small-screen superstar delivers the laughs and the "baas" in what turns out to be one of the most refreshing and innovative animated offerings this year. Scripted and directed by first-time filmmakers Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, Shaun the Sheep is completely without dialogue and its story is centred on a sheep called Shaun (grunts and sheep noises provide by Justin Fletcher); the leader of a flock living on an enchanting rural ranch run by the hard-working man referred to as The Farmer (Sparks). Daydreaming of a day-off from The Farmer's demanding schedules and daily routine of feeding and shearing, Shaun, with the help from his fellow sheep, decides to stage a revolution of sorts by putting The Farmer to sleep – so they can be free to do as they please - by locking him in a caravan and tricking him into believing it's nightfall.   Disaster soon strikes when The Farmer's caravan accidentally rolls off and into the nearby city sending the animals on the farm in complete chaos. Feeling somewhat responsible for what has happened, Shaun decides to head into the city and try to get The Farmer back who in the meantime, has developed a case of amnesia. Most of the laughs – the comedy is simple, subtle and typically British – are delivered through the mumbles, grunts and groans of the animals and humans alike, making it pretty clear that you don't need a celebrity voice-over, complicated visual effects or even an audible dialogue to get your story across. The narrative is easy to follow and there's something awfully comforting about watching an animated picture which – aside from a couple of hilarious references to movies such as The Silence of the Lambs and Taxi Driver – doesn't need to go down the usual product-placement or pop-culture-reference road in order to connect with its audience.   In terms of characters and set-design, the film's incredible attention to detail is evident and there is an effortless charm about it from beginning to end. Adult or child, it's hard to imagine anyone who won't be enticed by the story; delightfully charming, Shaun the Sheep is a much better way to spend eighty-two-minutes of your time than you'd think.

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Il Mulino: Typically-Italian Restaurant Expands Menu with More International Flavour in Maadi
Published On: 12/04/2015

A very serious problem that has proven to be the undoing of many a restaurant in Cairo is that of consistency. Many a time, Cairo 360 has been impressed, occasionally even wowed, by an evening of fine dining, only to find that, quite often, the very same restaurant becomes a shadow of its self down the line – and not even that far down the line. Hoping this wouldn't be the case, we dropped by Il Mulino in Maadi – a classic and favourite in the area. We were seated in the cosy outdoor area on the wooden furniture under the patio umbrellas, before a waiter arrived with our menus and a bottle of water. The menu covers a wide range of breakfasts, salads, soups, sandwiches and main courses, as well as bakery items and an assortment of desserts. We opted for an order of Bruschetta (18LE) and Grilled Haloumi (44LE) from the appetisers, and Beef Stroganoff (89LE) and Pollo Al Limone (64LE) for our mains. While we waited, we were served a fresh bread basket with butter and pesto; both of which were delicious and whetted our appetites. The Bruschetta and Haloumi arrived first. The Bruschetta featured tomatoes spiced with garlic, basil and olive oil and possessed a very tasty twang.  The slightly toasted slices of brown bread worked very well with the tomatoes. With diced tomatoes garlic, basil and olive oil, the bruschetta had a fresh and sharp taste, with everything seeming fresh and full of flavour, while the bread that the concoction sat on toasted perfectly. The Grilled Haloumi was similarly successful, featuring three thick cuts of cheese, grilled to release flavour. Combined together, the two appetiszers were delicious. The main courses arrived shortly afterwards, but we were a little disappointed by the Stroganoff, primarily because it didn't resemble stroganoff in consistency. The sauce not being creamy enough and the use of bell peppers and pickled cucumbers made it taste a little too far from the classic Russian dish. With that said, however, the meat itself was well cooked and the sauce, while unauthentic, was still flavourful and seasoned very well, while the side of basmati rice was pleasantly fluffy and well-cooked. The Pollo Al Limone fared much better. Served with sides of thick-cut, well-fried potatoes and grilled and seasoned vegetables, the portions were extremely generous. A total of four grilled chicken breasts drenched in the slightly creamy and savoury lemon sauce made for a tasty and filling meal. Il Mulino sports a very comfortable and laid back atmosphere, complimented by friendly staff and generally very decent food. Il Mulino seems to have strayed a little far from originally serving just authentic Italian food, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

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Furious 7: More Gravity-Defying, Eye-Popping Action
Published On: 07/04/2015

Characterised by the same brand of implausibility and outrageously absurd action set-ups that made the series so popular, the laws of physics are once again defied by the Fast & Furious crew who return to the big screen with another surprisingly entertaining instalment to the fast-paced film franchise with their long-awaited and bitter-sweet sequel, Furious 7. The appointment of James Wan to direct initially turned heads, but despite the horror director's lack of experience with the action genre, he delivers a film that will please loyalists. The story picks up not long after the events of the previous film, with Dominic 'Dom' Toretto (Diesel), Brian (Walker) and the rest of the crew now living a relatively peaceful and uneventful life in Los Angeles. It's only when the revenge-seeking Deckard Shaw (Statham) comes knocking that jolts them out of their seemingly humdrum, routine lives and they're approached by the shady Mr. Nobody (Russell) with a deal that will set Dom and co. up for a showdown with notorious hacker, Ramsey (Emmanuel). There's little freshness or innovation about the set-up, but then the plot has never really been much of a concern for the franchise. The story – which has a little bit of a James Bond-esque espionage feel this time around – is crazier and sillier as the minutes go by with the gaps in narrative and logic unapologetically compensated for with a heavy dose of adrenaline-filled action. One particular air-drop scene stands out, while the Abu Dhabi backdrop provides a fittingly over-the-top setting for proceedings. The death of Paul Walker halfway through the production naturally put a serious strain on everyone involved and it was a question whether the entire movie will be scrapped as a result. Luckily, with the help from Walker's two brothers – who stood in as body and stunt doubles – clever CGI tricks and the heartfelt performances from the entire crew – including a scene-stealing performance from Kurt Russell - Furious 7 provides a touching send-off to the Walker. 

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Leila: Fountain-Side Lebanese Restaurant Falls Short on Service in Cairo Festival City
Published On: 07/04/2015

There is nothing more disappointing than when a positive first impression later being falsified by the reality of a venue. Leila, a Lebanese eatery with plenty of branches in Cairo and one in Alexandria to boast, sure seemed like the perfect choice for a quick bite in the busy shopping complex, but unfortunately did not manage to live up to expectations. Located right by the fountain, in a prime location, Leila offers both outdoor and indoor seating. Whereas the indoor seating area is quite cosy, the outdoor area seemed more tempting, given the unusually refreshing spring breeze. Upon being seated, our menus found their way to our table. Leila's menu offers a comprehensive array of Lebanese delicacies, including the 'Metabbal Debs El Remmen' (27LE), ich comprises of eggplants smothered in pomegranate molasses, an assortment of Kofta dishes (77LE), as well as mixed grill options (99LE-149LE), Lahm Baajine (42LE), an assortment of Lebanese pastries (55 LE), as well as some grilled chicken based dishes and authentic Lebanese desserts. Feeling a bit adventurous, we went for two Lebanese pizzas (55LE each), not exactly knowing what to expect. For some pre-food refreshments, we went for mint green tea as well as Vanilla-Coconut and Peach flavoured shishas (40LE each). The process of ordering, which included us having to go through a few waiters, was hectic. Our table was peculiarly not assigned a single waiter, and so whereas one would be taking our food orders, another would be taking our drink orders. Arriving a good fifteen minutes after ordering, the shishas were initially light yet flavourful, but then no proper coal maintenance made the experience shortlived. The pizzas, which arrived ten minutes after the shishas, were surprising to say the least and looked nowhere near traditional. Presented on ceramic platters atop a metal stand, the pizzas were slightly cold and boasted uncooked pieces of homemade mozzarella cheese, topped with Rocca leaves and tomato slices atop a thin pastry. Whereas the pastry tasted more like that of Manakeesh rather than pizza, the mozzarella cheese was quite delicious, yet the overall taste of the dish as a whole was quite disappointing. The mint green tea seemed to have been completely forgotten, despite us asking for it twice, yet finally made a surprise appearance towards the end of our meal. To wrap up, Leila was a confusing mixture of a great location, with spot on ambiance, but dissapointing service.

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Le Grillon: Enduring Restaurant & Bar in Downtown Cairo
Published On: 06/04/2015

It might have seen better days, but Downtown Cairo is steeped in history and character – things that extend, even if superficially, to its restaurants, cafes and bars, including Le Grillon on Kasr El Nil Street. Divided into two parts with two separate menus, Le Grillon offers a sheltered outdoor area that we were told was the 'drinks area' and then a more elegant indoor restaurant which is used mainly for food, though this opens from 9PM.  It is possible to order something from the food menu and eat outside however if desired.  We decided to explore the drinks menu and check out the outdoor part as the décor was rather alluring and exotic with fake green vines and jungle-like scenery.  However it was rather odd to see the waiters in this unlikely scene dressed in a black suit and bow-tie. The atmosphere is pleasantly relaxed, almost basic; think beer, shisha and meeting up a good old gossip.  During our visit we opted to try one lemon juice and one mango juice each costing 12LE each and finally one beer (Heineken) at 21LE from the alcohol menu. The lemon juice was deliciously sweet, zesty and light with a fluffy white foam on top but the mango was a little too thick in consistency and also arrived ten minutes after all the other drinks as the waiter told us it was still frozen.   Afterwards a gust of curiosity led us to try a Bloody Mary (35LE) from the cocktail menu; the classic mixture of vodka, tomato juice and various spices arrived in a tall glass. Unfortunately, the overall flavour lacked the kick taste of vodka; however, there was a spicy aftertaste that lingered long after. After a tequila shot (40LE) ridded us of even more inhibitions, we were excited to try others drink from the cocktail menu though most were unavailable as the waiter told us there was no longer a bar man. Le Grillon offer an interesting mix of apertisers which, though a little expensive and small in portion, were quite delicious and pleasantly served.  We opted to try the shrimp cocktail (40LE) which was small yet flavoursome with large succulent shrimps and a tangy sauce. The atmosphere at La Grillon is very quiet, relaxed and good for enjoying shisha and a drink; it's by no means a detestable place to enjoy an evening, though the service was somewhat sloppy during our visit, especially which made 10% tax and 12% service charge a little difficult to swallow.

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The Cobbler: Another Un-Funny Adam Sandler Vanity Project
Published On: 06/04/2015

There's an old adage in sports that says "you're only as good as your last game." This is true in the case of the very talented Thomas McCarthy, who was riding high on a hot streak with indie gems such as Win Win and The Station Agent. That is until The Cobbler; an unfocused and illogical almost-comedy starring the maddeningly inconsistent Adam Sandler. The story follows Max Simkin (Sandler); an introverted fourth-generation cobbler who took over the family's business in New York City, after his father, Abraham Simkin (Hoffman) decided to walk out on him and his mother, (Cohen). Bored and clearly miserable with the monotonous routine that is his life, Max's big break, so to speak, soon comes in the form of a magical stitching machine – yes, you read that right – which he comes across late one night in the store's basement when the power goes out. Tasked to fix a pair of expensive shoes brought in by a rather outspoken customer, Max decides to use the antique machine to finish his work.  However, he quickly realises that the machine's magical powers can transform the wearer – in this case, him – into the owner of the shoes.  Commence eye-rolling. Naturally excited, Max milks his discovery for all its worth, but soon finds himself wrapped up in some shady dealings with sly real estate mogul, Elaine Greenawalt (Barkin). Sporting his trademark dishevelled, droopy-eyed look, things get off to a good start for Sandler, but it's not long before couple of head-scratching and unexpectedly bizarre turns - in what is an already bizarre premise - take over the story, one of which has the film asking its audience to believe in Sandler's character as a hero, of sorts, with no hint of sarcasm. Naturally, the entire picture and its half-baked premise descend into just another chapter in Adam Sandler's string of Happy Maddison vanity productions. And that's never a good thing – such a shame for such a talented comedian.

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Ex Machina: A.I. & Philosophy in Intelligent Sci-Fi Thriller
Published On: 05/04/2015

Elegant, though- provoking and clever, the beautifully envisioned Ex Machina is the latest sci-fi thriller that takes, shapes and sends the already probed concept of artificial intelligence into a realm of its own, resulting in an excellent viewing experience well deserving in its own right. Brought to life by famed novelist and screenwriter, Alex Garland – see Beach and 28 Days Later – the story is centred on Caleb (Gleeson); a gifted programmer and an employee at Bluebook - one of the world's most popular search engines - who wins an opportunity to spend a week with the company's eccentric CEO, Nathan (Isaac), at his luxurious retreat somewhere high-up in the Alaskan Mountains. Upon his arrival, however, Caleb learns that his prize is no holiday as he finds out that he has actually been recruited to participate in an experiment – the Turing Test – which is hoping to examine the behavioural limitations of Nathan's latest artificial intelligence creation, Ava (Vikander). See, Ava is a softly spoken, beautiful and a highly-intelligent humanoid robot that has the ability to talk, think and feel; her brain has been made up of all Bluebook's searches and her body, apart from her expressive and human-like facial features is entirely made of complex and transparent synthetic wiring.     The test, which includes a total of seven supervised 'talking' sessions between Caleb and Ava, is to determine whether Ava's way of thinking and behaviour is in any way different from that of a human; an examination that is soon followed by a dark exploration of human nature. Alex Garland's feature debut – a notion which in itself is a little hard to swallow given that the film doesn't look anything like the work of a beginner - is sleek, seductive and effortlessly stylish. Chillingly effective, Garland offers his long-list of ideas - one of them exploring the threat of advanced technology upon humanity – and builds his theories through a series of interesting conversations and clever dialogue. Shot with great precision, the one-set location is suitably claustrophobic and the cool-colour palette used throughout plays as a perfect representation of Nathan's reclusive and advanced world of scientific philosophies and its immense possibilities.   Charming and at the same time absolutely petrifying, Isaac – recently seen in Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis – is riveting as a mad scientist type, who spends his completely closed off from the outside world but, well ahead in his very own. Gleeson's physical awkwardness is affable and his vulnerability makes him the perfect candidate for his role ,while Vikander – a trained ballerina – is the movie's heart and soul, however crazy that may sound. Broodingly slow andintense, Ex Machina is a must-see and no matter how sluggish the movie may seem on the outside, its underlying complexities are endlessly engaging.

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Egyptian Modern Art Museum: Discover Egypt's Rich History in Art at Cairo Opera House

Situated within the Cairo Opera House complex in Zamalek, the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art is an outstanding display of contemporary paintings and bronze sculptures by Egyptian artists.  Situated within the Cairo Opera House complex in Zamalek, the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art - also known as the