Downtown Cairo is just something else; amid its chaos, we tend to forget the beauty of just walking around and exploring the streets of this lively area. We get caught up in all that is new, and forget that the old has its charms as well. La Chesa restaurant is one of those hidden gems that one cannot simply overlook in downtown; it’s definitely an enjoyable change of scenery. Swiss Restaurants is a company that was founded back in Cairo in 1976, Le Chalet, and Le Chateau were the very first branches to open in Giza under the umbrella of that company. Soon after, Le Chantilly in Korba, and La Chesa in Downtown followed.
We found ourselves roaming the streets of downtown looking for a nice place to have dinner, La Chesa isn’t particularly striking to the eye; from the outside you can’t really tell what is inside, and the sign is pretty timeworn. We got inside and it felt like we stepped in an old ski tavern in Switzerland – minus the fireplace. The walls were mostly a dark shade of brown wood, and oil paintings, while vintage ornaments were scattered on each wall to complete the charismatic design.
It was just before Valentine’s Day, so red table cloths were on all the tables – the colour really complemented the tiny lowlight lamps hanging over each table. We got our menus and almost immediately went for the Cheese Fondue (330LE) – Swiss cheese fondue with white wine, accompanied by pieces of bread for dipping. The white wine is optional, but we got ours with the wine; we don’t know how much it affects the overall taste, but surely the cheese is the highlight anyway. This fondue was phenomenal; it was creamy, perfectly seasoned, rich, and flavourful – simply flawless.
The fondue was really filling – in a good way though, that’s why we decided to get only one appetiser and one main-course to share. The appetiser selection didn’t have a lot of options, the only enticing option was the Shrimp Cocktail (155LE) – it was the classical poached shrimp with a mayonnaise-based sauce and lettuce. It was a good bite for sure – the shrimp was tender, lettuce was fresh, and the sauce was creamy and spicy.
The menu was surprisingly diverse; local snacks and specialties, like Molokheya, with other international pasta and steak dishes, which were abundant. However, we decided to stick with the Swiss Specialty section of the menu and order the Sausage Tessinoise (75LE) – veal sausage, served with onion sauce and rösti potatoes. The veal sausage was extremely tender and tasty, while the onion sauce gave it a rich savoury flavour. The rösti potatoes were crispy from the outside and fluffy on the inside. For anyone who is wondering what these are, rösti potatoes are a Swiss favourite; basically grated potatoes that is then shaped similarly to a flat cake and cooked afterwards with butter in a pan.
The desserts on the menu were only a few options, from which the Profiterole and the Meringue were the only ones that stood out.Then again, that cheese fondue was still bubbling and we couldn’t help ourselves from taking a second dip. As much as we wanted to give their sweet selection a try, the fondue stole the show. As a final point, the food and service at La Chesa were both delightful; especially the host, who, particularly humorous, made our visit more comfortable and enjoyable.