Praecingo: Disappointing Nile City Boat Café
The stationary boat-based venues around
Cairo often gather unfair disreputability. We’ve seen more than just a few of
these venues close down in recent months; their following seems fickle. On the
top deck of the Nile City boat in Zamalek, Praecingo is a café and lounge that
tries to bring a bit of glamour and class to the spot.
There is little decor to speak of:
comfortable, low couches are arranged centrally and by the edge, where they are
only sullied by the view of the scorched NDP building across the Nile. The dimly lit area is
counteracted by the tens of flat-screen TVs that are arranged high on the walls
showing music channels. Intending on a low-key bite at this café/lounge, we
were taken aback by the 100LE-minimum charge. Unless you plan to have a two-course
meal and a drink or shisha, you will almost certainly struggle to reach the minimum charge.
While an extensive menu of starters,
salads, grills and desserts are on offer; this is still a café at its core. A
range of flavoured shishas are offered at 25LE a pop including the lay, and a
generous serving of fried mozzarella from the starters was hot and gooey in the
best possible sense, but lacking in seasoning.
order of a cappuccino Maltesers tart (24LE) was underwhelming; especially due
to the two and a half pieces of stale Maltesers that were embedded in it.
Equally as disappointing was the fruit cheese cake (24LE), which is available
in cherry, blueberry or strawberry. The base was actually sponge cake, and both
were worryingly warm.
There are plenty of cocktails on the menu;
or ‘mocktails’ as they insist on calling them. The Praecingo mocktail (22LE) is
a thick, generous blend of strawberry, banana and mango juices. Though it was
full of flavour, it too was warmer than it should have been; either the banana
or mango juice tasted a little off.
The orange and carrot juice (19LE) was very
noticeably fresh, but the carrot-orange ratio leant much more towards the
former, and there were more grainy carrot pieces floating around than we
expected. Luckily, the curvy mocktail (22LE) saved the day: its combination of
apple and pineapple juices with grenadine made for a light thirst-quencher.
We also tried the cinnaspresso; a mixture
of espresso, sahlab, and cinnamon served with cinnamon sticks. A cup of what looked, smelt and tasted like a
plain espresso arrived. When we enquired as to what was going on, the waiter revealed
that there was actually no sahlab, no cinnamon, and no cinnamon sticks; just
cinnamon ‘flavouring’, which we were charged for as a separate 4LE order to the
14LE espresso. We were not surprised to find that it still tasted very much
like a normal espresso.
Being the venture of Egyptian comedic actor
Ahmed Helmi, Praecingo should be immune to the financial demise of many a Cairo
venue. But any hope that this reviewer had of a pleasant evening out was quickly
eroded by the mediocre service and poorly prepared food and drink.