The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Cafés Frais

Cafés Frais: Rooftop Café with Nile View in Zamalek

  • Novotel Cairo El Borg, 3 Saraya El Gezira
  • 11 AM to 12AM -
reviewed by
Anne de Groot
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Cafés Frais: Rooftop Café with Nile View in Zamalek

is home to few hotels but the Novotel is often overlooked, perhaps because of
its inconvenient location. Situated just off of Kasr El Nil Bridge, the dull
and grey-looking building is shrouded by trees and is easy to miss. The
entrance of the hotel is also a bit peculiar because it is on the lowest floor,
which is basically the basement. However, on the hotel’s rooftop, Café Frais
offers terrific view of the Nile.

The entrance
to the café is a bit weird; you have to pass through the gym before you step out into
this open-air café. The first thing that will immediately catch your attention
is the water element. Not only are there little waterways but two Jacuzzis as well! The rooftop
view is pretty spectacular; with the Cairo Tower so close; you could almost
touch it. Half of the terrace is partitioned with glass panels and the other
half is open-air.

The menu at Café Frais is quite extensive, but
it’s more suitable for lunch than for dinner. Novotel doesn’t serve alcohol; so
there is a large variety of non-alcoholic drinks on the menu. Besides the
fruit cocktails there are also eight different types of Ice tea such as spicy
ice tea, blueberry ice tea and Hawaiian ice tea. If you do have something to
celebrate, there is alcohol-free champagne starting at 40LE. The food
menu has a lot of sandwiches and some salads and pizza.

For our
drinks we sampled the spring cocktail (32LE): pomegranate mixed with orange and
pineapple juice topped with lemon soda. We also tried the honey apple ice tea
(28.50LE). We ordered the beef burger (41LE) and smoked fish salad (49LE) off
the food menu. Unfortunately, service was very slow and it took too long for our
food and drinks to arrive. A total of 45 minutes passed before our food was
served, and our drinks still hadn’t arrived. The view is pleasant and entertaining but it can
only keep you occupied for so long.

order of smoked fish salad consisted of salmon, mackerel and eel and lacked the
side of toast promised on the menu. The waiter warned us that it would take ten
minutes for the toast to arrive because it had to be brought up the elevator. The
smoked salmon was nice but not really filling. The pieces of eel were very
salty as was the mackerel. It came with orange coulis, which might sound very
weird but combined with the salty fish it was actually very tasty. The beef
burger had a little too much onion and the meat tasted a bit over-spiced. The
carrot salad that came as a side dish to the burger was delicious, though.

apple honey ice tea tasted nothing like honey or apple but more like cinnamon
and had a strange brown-orange tint to it. The spring cocktail was just as
unattractively tinted but more refreshing than the ice tea. Both drinks weren’t
particularly bad but not exactly anything to shout about.

While Café
Frais offers a great view and décor, its service and food are unfortunately poor.
However, if you feel like a cold non-alcoholic drink with a splendid view, this
rooftop café is a good option.

360 Tip

If you prefer the comfort of indoor dining, the Novotel Cairo Tower is also home to Le Gout.

Best Bit

Seeing the lights on the Cairo Tower up close.

Worst Bit

The service and food doesn't quite match up to the spectacular view.

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