Continental Goodies in Zamalek
Concept: Fresh and simple deli and bakery fare
Type of cuisine: Danish-inspired
Ambiance: Laid-back bakery and deli that’s great for grabbing easy everyday meals on the go.
Signature dishes: For the second branch of Copenhagen, the restaurant continued to follow its Scandinavian influence with its’ use of smoked salmon, available as a sandwich or croissant with cream cheese, onions and capers.
Dishes sampled: Copenhagen’s roast beef sandwich is made with house-roasted beef in warm, freshly baked bread topped with a slice of cheddar cheese. All that was missing for an authentic roast beef sandwich taste was an extra slather of Dijon mustard or horseradish to add some punch to the flavors.
The glistening pastries were singing to us, and we settled for a strawberry tart and sweet potato jar. The tart was delicately lined with small strawberry halves ideal for little bites and paired with a smooth custard and crisp crust. However, the sweet potato jar was the clear winner. The sweet potatoes are baked then cracked open and drizzled with honey. After puréeing them, the chef spoons them into jars and tops them with cream. The result is something close to the traditional Egyptian pumpkin dessert, ara’a a’asal.
Other menu options that appealed: The pastries and desserts were by far the most difficult to choose from – buttery croissants, Danish pastries and an array of éclairs all competed for our attention.
Beverages: Copenhagen won our hearts with their coffee, which was strong but not bitter. The macchiato was topped with a hearty dollop of foam and whole roasted coffee beans – a much-needed midday boost. The menu includes several cappuccino variations as well as freshly squeezed juices and iced teas.
Décor: The space is bright and minimal with pale grey walls, white wooden high chairs and counter tables. A bicycle mounted on the wall gives a nod to the Danish theme.
Take away/ Home delivery: Both
Clientele mix: With a grab-and-go counter filled with pre-made sandwiches, salads and juices, the café attracts a large business lunch crowd from offices around the area.
Price range: Moderate.
Top tip: The space is ideal for a quick lunch, or a light meal. Lots of light and strong coffee are a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
Opening hours: 7 am to 11 pm
Address: 118 26th of July Street, Zamalek
Tel: 02 2737 4796
Facebook page: Copenhagenegypt
Cosmopolitan Chic in Zamalek
Type of cuisine: International Char-Grill
Argentinean Churrasco, a mix of Greek-style marinated meats , including chicken legs, lamb chops, veal chops and strip loin.
Pineapple crème brulee
Dishes sampled: As the meal began, we were served a basket of warm bread and toasted crackers that came along with the tastiest olive paste and dips. It was a perfect start to a wonderful hearty meal. This was followed by a beautifully colorful goat cheese salad filled with an explosion of flavors, from the roasted pine nuts, to the sweet raisins, and the toasted goat cheese, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, all topped off with a rich glazed balsamic vinaigrette. The Sweet Shrimp Avocado that came afterwards was the perfect combination of sweet and savory, the textures of the crispy tempura shrimp and the creamy avocados were an outstanding marriage.
As the main courses were approaching, our taste buds had already woken up, and were ready for all the bold flavors coming ahead. The succulent and vibrant flavors of the char-grilled meats, potatoes and pineapple on skewers were as tasty as it gets. They just melted in your mouth. The dishes were all well thought out and to the point. The idea of getting your meat and vegetables served on skewers made the meal exciting as well as appealing to the eye.
The meal came to an end with the most mouth-watering and eye-catchy dessert, the Pineapple Crème Brulée was not just delicious, but it was gorgeous to look at. Served in half a pineapple, the flavors were to die for; every bite delicately melting in your mouth. By far the yummiest dessert I’ve eaten in a while.
Other menu options that appealed: Quinoa Salad, Crispy Lasagna Rolls, Fillet Mignon, Chicken Legs, Chocolate Fudge.
Décor: Located on a rooftop with a panoramic view of the Nile, mixing the elements of nature with elegance, Crimson creates an exotic yet relaxing vibe. The feeling of being outdoors while sitting inside and surrounded by open-air wooden ceilings and spacious glass windows sets the tone from the second you walk in. Bring your appetite and some friends, because this outstanding view will make you want to eat and drink all night.
Ambience: Elegant, yet casual. Cozy, relaxed and sophisticated.
From the warmth of the wooden chairs and tables to the vibrant turquoise plates and accessories, the cooling colors of the stylish interior enhance your mood, putting you in a state of mind to enjoy a night of indulgence.
Beverages available: A variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages ranging from a great selection of both local and imported wines, beer, cocktails, aperitifs and spirits, liqueurs and shots.
Clientele mix: A perfect place to have a few drinks with a group of friends. Trendy, urbane couples or groups can go enjoy a wonderful meal with great cocktails and some chilled out background music. After 6 pm if you’re not 25 or above you most likely won’t get in.
Price range: Quite pricey but definitely worth it.
Address: 16 El Moseqar Kamal El Tawil St. (Former Montazah St.) Zamalek
Opening hours: 12pm – 2am
Tel: 0127 505 5555
Facebook page: Crimson Bar & Grill
Food for All Moods In Sheikh Zayed
Type of cuisine: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between: sandwiches, pizza, pasta, burgers and international dishes, with recently added menu items. Healthy options well covered too.
Concept: Every city has them, from Paris to Sydney, New York to Buenos Aires. Those quintessential cafés, bistros and restaurants that somehow, against the competition, draw a loyal and regular clientele and become the heart and hub of the local scene. It seems that affordable pricing, as well as tasty dishes with consistent quality and professional, friendly staff, are a common factor.
Chicken Parmigiana, Lilly’s Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Lilly’s Nachos, Crêpes Nutella
Dishes sampled: A great way to start any meal is with a refreshing drink to ease the transition from work mode to relaxation, and the Piña Colada mocktail (served in a trendy jar of course) did just that. Just the right slushy consistency, with a hearty coconut flavor, it was top notch. As we watched dusk settle over the adjacent fountain and lively square we nibbled on a starter of Chicken Strips. While not particularly dainty, the strips were succulent and freshly fried in a light batter, and the accompanying ‘house’ honey mustard dip went down a treat.
Our garlic toast was served warm, with a liberal coating of grilled cheese. As garlic fans, we might have asked for a tad more of that, but it was tasty, nonetheless. Our main orders followed with just the right time spacing, so we did not feel rushed. The ‘healthy’ option of Grilled Chicken consisted of three subtly spiced grilled escalopes of chicken breast, and came with a generous portion of lightly sautéed seasonal vegetables, including mushrooms. Cooked to perfection, it was filling and guilt free.
The Pepper Sauce Burger was superb. A lean minced beef patty, lightly grilled onion, a truly ‘peppery’ sauce, arugula, and a slathering of mustard, all encased in a fresh burger bun. Served with fries, it was a substantial meal, and left us well pleased with our selection.
The dessert menu offered a multitude of ways to sabotage any half-hearted attempt to diet, so after discussing some really tempting options, we headed for the Chocolate Brownies with ice cream, a simple dish that must be done perfectly, and Lilly’s really nailed it!
Fresh, melt-in-the-mouth brownies with that straight-from-the-oven appeal and aroma slathered with a rich chocolate sauce and served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Heaven on a plate.
We loved the retro tiled flooring, the traditional white painted café chairs and dark wooden tables. Nothing pretentious, just well-chosen, low-key contemporary chic to provide a cozy yet uncluttered venue. The addition of well-placed TV screens gave us a clue as to why Lilly’s is ‘the’ place to catch any important match, we are told you need to book at least a week ahead.
Authentic, friendly and welcoming, with an animated buzz of conversation. We heard everything from trans-Atlantic twangs to snippets of Russian, along with several dialects of Arabic. A really cosmopolitan clientele mix, with a very relaxed vibe. The knowledgeable and helpful service staff made the experience pleasant from the minute we walked in.
A wide variety of hot and cold beverages, juices, mocktails, slushies and smoothies.
Clientele mix: Couple and groups of friends, work colleagues, a true cross-section of a vibrant community.
Price range: Affordable enough to make this a regular haunt.
Address: Mall 2, Sheikh Zayed, after Legenda Compound
Opening hours: 10 am to 2 am. Last orders at 1.30 am.
Tel: 011 5976 0061
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lillys.eg/
Asian Infusion On Zamalek’s Riverbank
Location: Zamalek is becoming more and more appealing than it already is. Recently added to its impressive roster of riverside eateries is chic and sophisticated Mirai.
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi bar and Thai
Being there midday on a Saturday gave us the opportunity to choose what we wanted from the open buffet, which involved most of the menu, we had some appetizers and sushi. We then asked Thai chef, Chef Koraveet Yarangvong to select one of Mirai’s signature dishes for us.
We had Otsu Yama Maki, and for those of you who love sushi this is definitely one of the best you will ever try! A fresh salmon, tuna, avocado, crabstick, and cucumber roll covered with spicy salmon, oats and honey mustard sauce! Superb! That was quickly followed by the extraordinary Mirai Grilled Salmon: fresh, generous, and prepared to perfection, served sizzling in a basil teriyaki sauce for a rich sweet flavor, with a side of lemongrass potato. A good deal of desserts is available. Overall, Mirai has nailed it, a true taste of Asian food at its finest.
Décor: The décor is trendy and chic with an all-glass facade to provide you with a full view of the Nile, wood accents and Buddha statues complete the pleasant yet classy mood. Three different kinds of seating are available, high tables in front of the Teppanyaki chefs watching them prepare your dinner seared over an open flame, square dining tables scattered around the place, and cozy booths with beautiful accents.
Ambience: Being located on the Nile between Sequoia and Left Bank, Mirai’s atmosphere sets the stage for the unique experience you’re about to have, whether you go for their open buffet brunch on Saturday morning or for a more refined date at night, the lighting and the setting will surely enchant you.
Beverages available: Mirai’s drinks menu includes hot drinks, cold drinks, signature cocktails, different types of teas and herbal infusions, beers, wines – both local and imported, imported spirits and alcoholic cocktails.
Clientele Mix: Couples, families and groups of friends.
Price range: Value for money.
Brunch on Saturdays open buffet from 12 pm to 5 pm
All week from 1 pm to 1 am
Abo El Feda Street, Zamalek
Tel: 02 27350014
A Korba Hideaway Worth Discovering
Type of cuisine: This new ultra-hip restaurant serves Cairo residents Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with an Egyptian twist. The fusion menu was conceptualized by Speakeasy’s award-winning chef; it creatively blends Mediterranean flavors and Egyptian classics.
Mantra: “The first rule of fight club is…” the mantra of Speakeasy is just that, without the violence. Speakeasy is a fancy secret hideout for Cairo’s elite. The outside is nondescript; the entryway tangles through an Alice-in Wonderland-type maze, and guests are greeted by a large mysterious door. The concept plays on the prohibition era when the sale of alcohol was illegal and drinking was a black-market activity.
Signature dishes: Speakeasy prides itself on unique dishes that cannot be found on each and every street corner in Cairo. It has purposefully created a unique menu that is elegant and creative while staying true to its Mediterranean roots. From braised duck to foie gras this hot spot is a juggernaut for one-of-a-kind signature dishes.
Braised Duck (braised duck meat served with toasted almonds and butter baked rice), Cognac Seafood Casserole (Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels, Fresh Salmon, and Fish Fillet served with rice), and Martini Foie Gras (grilled foie gras balls served with toasted hazelnut and quinoa salad).
Aged spicy cheese
Red Pepper Puree
Coconut Chicken Wings
Other menu options that appealed: After sampling the delicious hot and cold appetizers with our drinks a quick peruse through the dinner menu left even satisfied mouths watering. Many other items on the menu appealed but two that really stood out were the Vodka Salmon and the Pigeon Roulade. With an extensive beverage menu, there are infinite combinations of food and drink to try.
Décor: The décor is 1920s prohibition-era chic with high ceilings, dark walls, bold columns, and high-end furniture setting the interior of the restaurant apart from its competition. The building itself is a historical Korba villa, but the inside has been renovated by an Italian designer to give it just the right feel. Each piece of décor has been selected to take customers from the streets of Heliopolis and transport them back to a glamorous time of exclusivity.
Ambience: The ambiance takes a few minutes to adjust to as it envelops you into a different time and place. From the darkened rooms, to the smoky air, to the majestic mixing of drinks, the restaurant is unique in all aspects. The air is filled with music, laughter, glasses clinking and the smell of food.
Beverages available: The beverage menu is a huge focus of Speakeasy. After all, the prohibition-era inspired décor wouldn’t work unless it offered some alcoholic beverages to match. In true “speakeasy” form there is a fully stocked bar in addition to many ‘soft’ options. It was hard to choose between a classic cocktail, a glass of wine or a refreshing mocktail. Our Moscow Mule and Whiskey Sour were bang on.
Top Tip: The restaurant is equipped with an amazing ventilation system, but this is still an indoor smoking venue and a cigar lounge, so anyone with allergies or aversions to smoke should be cautious.
Clientele mix: The clientele was high end and dressed to impress.
Price range: While relatively expensive, the menu is incredibly unique and offers an experience that is worth the splurge.
Address: 58 Beirut Street, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt
Opening hours: Dinner only
Tel: 012 117 11046 – 012 117 11062
Scandinavian Flavors Come to Mall of Egypt
Type of cuisine: International with a definite Scandinavian twist. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, with everything from salads, sandwiches and burgers to steaks, chicken and fish. Great desserts as well.
Signature dishes: Berry Mania Fillet Steak, Montreal Steak, Roasted Herb Chicken, Italiano Chicken, Chicken Scaloppini
Dishes sampled: This being a first visit to the recently opened Mall of Egypt, my lunch companion and I were pleasantly surprised by the airy, spacious layout, and convenient access to the well-located food court where Viking is located. The welcome was efficient and courteous, with no fierce Norse warriors lurking in the shadows. A good start.
We were rather intrigued by the concept of ‘Viking’ food so gave the comprehensive menu a thorough going-through before selecting our dishes. This called for a refreshing drink, so we opted for a light combination of orange and pineapple with a splash of grenadine. Just right for an early summer lunch, we agreed. We were quickly presented with a basket of dainty home baked rolls served with a piquant dip. Did we detect mustard, and a hint of gherkin in that creaminess?
It seemed like good sense to share a Viking sampler as a starter, a combination of deep fried chicken gougons, potato croquettes, mozzarella sticks and tender calamari rings. This came with a quartet of dipping sauces; cocktail, marinara, tangy mustard and a gherkin-packed tartare. The platter was more than enough for us to share, and luckily we had breathing space before our main dishes arrived.
The Berry Mania fillet steak delivered as promised. The traditional Scandinavian addition of fruit to meat is nothing short of sheer genius. The raspberry in the glaze was subtle, but gave an intriguing sharp sweetness that contrasted beautifully with the thick, superbly tender fillet. The accompanying huge mound of mashed potato, and al dente mixed seasonal vegetables made for a really substantial meal. The Sea Bed Cocktail with fettuccine again came in a hearty serving. The combination of shrimp, fish, and calamari was bathed in a rich, lemony dill-laden sauce, and the fettuccine had its own sauce with a good quantity of cheese. Note: calorie-conscious readers can opt out at this stage…
The dessert menu is just as rich as the delights on offer, be warned. Agreeing to share, we made short work of the New Black Forest Cake, and the totally trendy Blueberry Gateau, served in a jar. More melt-in -the-mouth mousse than heavy cake, they both went down very easily and served as a perfect end to a long, leisurely weekend lunch.
Other menu options that appealed:
With so much to choose from it would be a hard call. The burgers and sandwiches shown on the well-presented menu looked inviting, so would be high on our list.
Décor: Contemporary, with dark wood, taupe and accents of black, the overall feel is chic and practical. The rear wall has an impressive display of Viking artifacts, reproductions we suspect. As the restaurant faces floor to ceiling windows overlooking the spacious courtyard below, it avoids any feeling of gloominess.
The tables are well spaced, so even though the restaurant filled up quickly with families, young groups of friends and a few couples, the buzz of activity never became overpowering.
A wide range of hot and cold beverages. Creative slushies, milkshakes and virgin cocktails, along with specialty teas and coffees, plus fresh juices. You are spoilt for choice.
Price range: Reasonable to moderate.
Address: Food Court, Mall of Egypt. Entry through Gate A1
Opening hours: 10 am to 1 am daily.
Tel: 010 9690 9300