Le Grillon: Enduring Restaurant & Bar in Downtown Cairo
It might have seen better days, but Downtown Cairo is steeped in history and character – things that extend, even if superficially, to its restaurants, cafes and bars, including Le Grillon on Kasr El Nil Street.
Divided into two parts with two separate menus, Le Grillon offers a sheltered outdoor area that we were told was the ‘drinks area’ and then a more elegant indoor restaurant which is used mainly for food, though this opens from 9PM. It is possible to order something from the food menu and eat outside however if desired. We decided to explore the drinks menu and check out the outdoor part as the décor was rather alluring and exotic with fake green vines and jungle-like scenery. However it was rather odd to see the waiters in this unlikely scene dressed in a black suit and bow-tie.
The atmosphere is pleasantly relaxed, almost basic; think beer, shisha and meeting up a good old gossip. During our visit we opted to try one lemon juice and one mango juice each costing 12LE each and finally one beer (Heineken) at 21LE from the alcohol menu. The lemon juice was deliciously sweet, zesty and light with a fluffy white foam on top but the mango was a little too thick in consistency and also arrived ten minutes after all the other drinks as the waiter told us it was still frozen.
Afterwards a gust of curiosity led us to try a Bloody Mary (35LE) from the cocktail menu; the classic mixture of vodka, tomato juice and various spices arrived in a tall glass. Unfortunately, the overall flavour lacked the kick taste of vodka; however, there was a spicy aftertaste that lingered long after. After a tequila shot (40LE) ridded us of even more inhibitions, we were excited to try others drink from the cocktail menu though most were unavailable as the waiter told us there was no longer a bar man.
Le Grillon offer an interesting mix of apertisers which, though a little expensive and small in portion, were quite delicious and pleasantly served. We opted to try the shrimp cocktail (40LE) which was small yet flavoursome with large succulent shrimps and a tangy sauce.
The atmosphere at La Grillon is very quiet, relaxed and good for enjoying shisha and a drink; it’s by no means a detestable place to enjoy an evening, though the service was somewhat sloppy during our visit, especially which made 10% tax and 12% service charge a little difficult to swallow.