Carlo’s: Lively Sohour on Zamalek’s Le Pacha Boat
Rarely is there much to differentiate between the
several docked restaurant boats along Zamalek’s quiet banks. Ramadan is a rare
occasion through which every restaurant, bar, café and lounge can throw off the
shackles and be a little imaginative.
For those who might not have been to Carlo’s before,
the small, inconspicuous entrance is on the right before you step up onto the
main build of Le Pacha boat. What you’ll notice before you even take your seats
is that in an attempt to accommodate as many people as possible, the chairs and
tables are a little too close for comfort.
Carlo’s usual setup would have you pop in for a late-night
snack or shisha, and the sohour menu follows suit. A minimum of 100LE++ per
person is imposed, and the à-la-carte menu covers all your Ramadan hankerings.
We’d heard many a tale of Carlo’s shawerma sandwich
(29.90LE), and so we held back just a little at fetar to make room. Served with a
few prematurely pickled pickles that were taut, the sandwich is handily served
split into two halves of shami bread and neatly wrapped in a thin foil. Unfortunately,
we were left a little disappointed. Though virtually greaseless, the meat was
dry and had us yearning for some tehina or even just some ketchup.
Shish tawouk is available as a hot mezza (39.90LE) or
a main (59.90LE), and we plumped for the smaller version. Six chunky pieces of
chicken arrived at the table, and although perfectly cooked and full of
flavour, the dish also suffered from being dry. You can also have a shish
tawouk sandwich (24.50LE).
Having eaten enough oriental sweets in the last three
weeks to sustain a small country, we squealed with delight at their absence
from the dessert section of the menu. Other Ramadan favourites such as amar el din
(18.90LE), zalabia (18.90LE) and om ali (26.90LE) are on offer. We foolishly
took a step out of Ramadan and ordered the crème caramel, and were rightfully
punished with a firm and stale dessert that broke up in our mouths instead of
gliding like it should.
Not all the different flavours of shishas were
available at the time of our visit, but the cherry and peach versions were
smooth tasting, if a little absent of flavour.
The drinks menu is pretty impressive. The karkadeh and
tamr hindi (11.50LE) are light and sweet, although the latter was served warm
with a whole heap of ice to compensate. Coffee (12LE to 18LE), sahlab (13.50LE)
and mint tea (12LE) are also available, as is hummus el sham (13LE).
The clientele of the venue is a diverse one; groups of
young twenty-somethings, couples and families are all present, and a large
projection screen showing Ramadan TV shows is at one end of the floor. This
isn’t exactly a place that you’d go to wind down at after a long day. There’s a
very real street feel to it, in the best sense of the word. Carlo’s does
nothing spectacular, but is a decent place for a lively sohour.