La Villa: Modest Mohandiseen Café
Newer Cairo cafés tend to be on the gaudy side, but tucked away in one of the more tranquil streets in Mohandiseen is La Villa; an inconspicuous little café that is slightly shabby from the outside, perhaps, but more endearing from within.
Seating is available both indoors and outdoors – under a covered tent – and the café attracts regular customers from the neighbourhood, who keep coming back for the warm, friendly service and excellent shisha.
Inside, the café is rather awkwardly furnished and feels a bit like a dining room. The walls hold several television screens and a host of activities are on offer, including backgammon, cards, chess and even a Playstation 3, available for use upon request.
Overall, the food at La Villa is decent in both quality and price. The menu is varied, offering a very large selection of hot drinks, fresh juices, cocktails and soft drinks, as well as a wide array of traditional Egyptian grilled meat dishes. Looking for a refreshing thirst-quencher, we ordered a watermelon juice (LE16.75), which can also be ordered in the form of a blended smoothie; it was just as refreshing as we hoped it would be. We then ordered the shish tawouk (LE55), kofta (LE55) and hot dog (LE32), all of which came with a side of French fries. Of the three, the shish tawouk stood out; well prepared, nicely charred and full of flavour. Generally speaking, the food was satisfying, though nothing out of the ordinary.
If you’re in the mood for something more veggie-friendly, La Villa also offers various vegetarian pizza and pasta dishes, as well as an ‘Oriental Corner’ with a variety of fiteer, both sweet and savoury. And if you’re dropping by in the morning, you can look forward to a traditional Egyptian breakfast – foul, taameya, omelette – though the continental breakfast options are rather limited.
Feeling quite full by this point, we decided to take it easy on the dessert, despite the quite exhaustive selection; so, we settled on a fruit salad with ice cream (LE16.75). As it turned out, it was an excellent choice – just the light finish we had in mind. The ingredients were fresh and tasty, and we appreciated that the salad wasn’t too sweet, because it was sweetened using only natural fruit juice, which is uncommon in Cairo.
So, La Villa turned out to be your typical Cairo café; but we mean that in the best possible sense. It offers a comfy and very relaxed atmosphere and is a place where one can quite effortlessly become a regular.