Le Bistro: The Balady Bar with a Difference
For many, Downtown Cairo is a sea of hustle, bustle and general noise. While the traditional centre of the capital undoubtedly has a certain rustic charm and vibrancy not found in most other global cities, the vibe can become a little intense at times. Taking some time out to grab a quick beer with a pal can be the ideal solution to ease your stress.
While Downtown is packed with many balady bars, some can be a rather raucous affair or a little intimidating and that is where Le Bistro comes in. This gem on Huda Sharawy Street combines a New York style bar with a cosy date night restaurant next door.
Walk down the steps through the difficult-to-spot entrance and find yourself transported from the dusty streets of Downtown Cairo to a New York style neighbourhood dive bar complete with gloomy blue mood lighting and a rather eclectic mix of questionable background music.
Le Bistro provides something of a liberal oasis among Downtown’s sometimes ‘traditionalist’ balady bars and provides an ideal date spot for couples, groups of either gender or even just grabbing a drink and getting lost in your own thoughts without being hassled.
The drinks are reasonably priced in this day and age with local beers still falling below the 30LE mark, with spirits and mediocre cocktails (45LE – 70LE) costing considerably more. Meanwhile there is a TV beside the bar which tends to show a mixture of news and sporting events but it’s usually muted so as not to disturb those who don’ care. This sums up the unobtrusive ethos of the bar overall and the waiters are attentive without being pushy or overbearing.
The bar shares a food menu with the restaurant next door and both provide a satisfying mix of Oriental and international dishes at prices which are reasonable if a little pricey for this side of town. A special mention goes to the Loup De Mer Sauce Moutarde (65LE), which blends a tasty fillet of sea bass with a delicious mustard sauce. The dish is served alongside a portion of white rice and while the portion is a tad small, the dish provides satisfying main course. The restaurant provides a cosy date night treat, but it’s often lacking in atmosphere owing to the fact it’s often empty. The reasons for this are unclear, but may have something to do with the difficult-to-spot entrances which obscure both the bar and restaurant from view to many at street level.
Regardless, though, Le Bistro brings a touch of the big apple to Cairo at prices small enough to ensure a decent night out without breaking the bank.