Shahrzad Cafe: Fresh Juices at Simple Cafe in Downtown Cairo’s Talaat Harb Mall
Downtown Cairo’s Talaat Harb Mall isn’t the trendiest place in town, but is overflowing with outlets and all the cafes and restaurants in are situated on the ground floor. Our latest trip was to a cosy little café called Shahrzad. The name, of course, comes from the famous 1001Nights.
With its loud Arabic music, warm colours and dim lighting, Shahrzad Café possesses both the atmosphere of a bar and a café entwined. It’s quite small and dainty inside and actually looks more interesting from a distance, yet all in all the venue is a pleasantly comfortable one with a tantalising drinks menu.
Whether it’s hot drinks, cold drinks or a deliciously sweet cocktail, Shahrzad’s menu provides it all. We ordered Strawberry Juice at (13.75LE); Turkish Coffee (8.50LE) and a Shahrzad Cocktail (14.75LE) which was an interesting mix mixture of kiwi, banana milk and vanilla ice cream.
Firstly the strawberry juice tasted incredibly fresh and contained chunky strawberry pieces; the glass was generously sized too. The Turkish coffee was strong and robust just – as it should be – yet the Shahrzad cocktail, though generously sized and looking quite delicious, wasn’t as enjoyable as anticipated; the sweetness of the banana milk and vanilla ice-cream just didn’t go down well with the sourness of the kiwi. However, overall the prices aren’t bad.
There’s a vast range of drinks to try, however, and the list of cocktails kept us entertained with their unusual names and bizarre mixes, like the Romeo and Juliet; a mixture of mango; banana milk and banana pieces. They also offer canned drinks though these are expensive compared to outside: popular non-alcoholic malt beverage, Byril, costs 10.75LE, while soft drinks are sold at a typically high 9.75LE.
Desserts are available too, though they’re primarily different flavours of ice cream mixed with fruit or topped with chocolate sauce: the famous Banana Split, which is three scoops of vanilla ice cream, banana slices topped with chocolate sauce, is available for 20.75LE.
The final page of the menu consists of shisha and, being reeled in by the exotic flavours, we opted to try the strawberry flavour at a very reasonable 9.25LE as well as the cocktail flavour which cost a rather high 20.75LE. In the context of other places that serve shisha, they aren’t bad prices, but both tasted of a similarly generic fruitiness and were pretty indistinguishable from each other.
When the cheque arrived, we had been charged for a bottle of water we hadn’t opened. To the waiter’s credit, he quickly deducted the item – but make sure to revise your cheque nonetheless. There’s little here that will truly wow you, but Shahrzad offers a pleasant menu and comfortable atmosphere with decent prices.