Carlos Café & Restaurant: Alexandrian Café Chain Opens in Heliopolis
Launched in 2006, Carlos Café & Restaurant began as an exclusive venue operating under the strictest quality control system of any café. With five pristine locations in Alexandria, Carlos has come south to Cairo with a new branch in upmarket Heliopolis neighborhood, Almaza.
Visible by brightly-lit signage and a gleaming glass front, Carlos instils a sense of modern comfort to a street occupied by cosmopolitan franchises. Stepping inside, we immediately noticed the café’s spotless, sleek interior.
Dark wooden furniture and wall accents are used throughout the café, as are rustic, claret leather couches and chairs. Several TVs are kept on mute, entirely dedicated to football matches, whilst the speakers play a delightful mixture of jazz, swing and Oriental tracks.
At the time of our visit, the cold weather allowed for shisha (30LE) to be served in the usually non-smoking seating area on the first floor. The second floor is split into an indoor smoking area and an expansive outdoor balcony, where diners can enjoy the surprisingly pleasant view of the street below.
Immediately tended to by one of waiters, we were brought the two separate menus; one for food and the other for beverages and desserts. Actual photographs of their dishes are used to illustrate the pages, while the food menu boasts impressive options for everything including breakfast, starters, main courses, paninis and sandwiches.
To drink, we ordered one Carlos Royalty (24LE) cocktail, with the addition of strawberry sauce (5LE). Presented in a tall glass with a slice of kiwi decorating the rim, the concoction was an exotic blend of mango, strawberry, orange, banana and kiwi juice.
To start, we requested the Pumpkin Soup (18LE). Served in a ceramic bowl, the soup was accompanied by three slices of fresh garlic bread. Creamy and incredibly rich, the pumpkin provided a subtle hint of sweetness without being overpowering.
For a main course, we selected the Calypso (39.50LE); a large platter of generously portioned sliced sandwiches. Filled with hefty helpings of cold cuts, mozzarella, mushrooms and olives, the flat bread was baked to a crispy perfection, making it an incredibly appetising meal. The French fries served alongside were thinly cut and golden-brown, sprinkled with an aromatic herb blend.
The grand finale was our dessert; a miniature Chocolate Fondue (32LE) and an authentic brew of Moroccan Mint Tea (14LE) with honey (4LE).The fondue was pure, rich Belgian chocolate that was sinfully delectable. Presented with sliced bananas and apples, as well as marshmallows and chocolate wafers, each dipping option was as enticing as the last. The tea was boiled and placed in a steel tea pot alongside an Arabian tea cup all placed on a silver serving tray. Presentation aside, the tea was a powerful brew with tinges of mint and honey offsetting the robust flavour.
More than your average café, with good service and even better food, Carlos has established itself as one of the best cafés in one of the most popular areas of the city.