Mercado Café: Classic Mediterranean Cuisine in Heliopolis
The name suggests this is a café, but in
truth it’s much closer to a restaurant. Mercado Café has a unique food menu, and doesn’t
serve shisha as has become the norm for Cairo cafés. Located on the quiet El
Hegaz Street in Heliopolis, Mercado’s interior is almost a perfect square, with
twelve tables spaciously arranged.
the entrance is a large piece of embossed artwork that depicts a coral reef, while
elegant bronze-framed mirrors hang on the walls. All in all, the decor is
unique and engaging. The venue takes so much pride in their decor that the
designer’s name and personal website are on the menu.
The lighting is dim, and a small TV screen shows foreign films on mute, while
background music plays the likes of Frank Sinatra and Charles Aznavour, further emphasizing the restaurant’s classic and romantic atmosphere.
Mercado’s menu features a range of dishes from
Italy and Greece, as well as some French dishes. The choices are a little confusing, and you may
need the waiter to explain some of the dishes for you. For appetisers, we started with cream of mushroom
soup and tomato soup. The taste, smell, and even the small squares of toasted
bread on the side were all deliciously appetising.
For a main course, this reviewer ordered
the chicken cardinal, which consisted of strips of chicken breast with a
rose-coloured tomato sauce and nacho cheese. The dish was served with mashed
potato and sautéed vegetables, and was perfect
in taste and presentation, especially the thick cheese that goes great with the
crispy white bread that comes with the meal.
We also ordered the pasta Sicilia
de Maria, a dish of penne pasta with a Mediterranean tomato sauce made of
calamari and shrimp, and topped with mozzarella cheese. The serving was
particularly large and the seafood itself is delicious, and isn’t eclipsed by
the sauce. We also ordered a delicious Prince Andrew salad, which contains
pieces of grilled halloumi cheese, lettuce, peach compote, cantaloupe and
apple, all seasoned with lemon and spices.
The desserts are few, but two things stood
out; the variety of ice cream and a Nutella pizza. We sampled the Isadora ice
cream; two balls of vanilla ice cream served with a small
serving of hot chocolate sauce.
Cold drinks on offer include house
cocktails, like the Pinky; a strawberry, orange, and lemon combination that tasted
fresh and delectable. From the hot drinks section, we tried a mocha coffee,
which again, like everything that we ordered, was perfect. Espressos and
cappuccino are also available.
Prices are reasonable. Mains cost between
40LE and 80LE, with most pasta dishes at around 30LE. Four types of pizza cost
between 25LE and 35LE, while soups cost between 10LE and 15LE. The range of
starters and salads is huge, and the Prince Andrew salad set us back 25LE, while
desserts and drinks all cost around 15LE.
The service is excellent, and the whole
place is clean and elegant, including the toilets. So if you enjoy dining in calm and classic surroundings, you
are sure to like Mercado.