By Juergen Stryjak
Even if the tourist loves Cairo, eventually he will reach a point after being in town for a period, where he would like to escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, at least for a few hours, to rest and take a break from the dust and the noise. A shady open-air oasis, a restaurant, with tables nestled in a lush garden, far from pollution such a place exists, even in desert-surrounded Cairo. The name of the restaurant is Andrea. The tourist must only be careful to enter the original Andrea. It is hard to believe, but there are numerous imitation Andrea restaurants in town.
Andrea has become a Cairene trademark for relaxing, family-oriented dining, in a wonderful garden, which makes you forget that you stay in one of the world's most vivid cities. Andrea is a sanctuary, a legend operating since 1958, having satisfied whole generations of locals and foreigners living in Cairo.
Recently, during the last years, lots of Andrea branches opened throughout the city. Or so I thought, until Omar Ratib, the owner of the original restaurant, near the Pyramids, told me emphatically that he has never, ever allowed someone officially to use his restaurant's name. Some businessmen thought that they could participate in his success by imitating the legend and by using the name Andrea. Andrea Merryland Heliopolis as well as the one at the Corniche in Maadi or the Andrea in Zamalek, ideally located at the Northern tip of the Nile island Al-Gezira, even the one in the same neighborhood like the original restaurant, near to the Pyramids none of them is connected to Omar Ratib's restaurant. He has filed lawsuits against them, but this will take time, and Omar Ratib doesn't expect a court ruling within the next two years. Only one other Andrea has the real right to use this name, the restaurant of an old Greek at the Moqattam Hills, former co-founder of Ratib's restaurant.
So, I have decided to never enter an imitation Andrea again, which I admit, I have done occasionally before. Honestly, there is no reason for doing this. The poultry dishes were very delicious when we ate there recently, our little son enjoyed the children's playground and we were able to talk to our friends without being interrupted by him continuously. My wife especially liked the stuffed grape leaves. I had, among other dishes, the excellent chicken liver, and both of us couldn't get enough from the Mezzes and the fresh, warm, home-made round flat loafs.
Next time, we will invite our guests from Europe and elsewhere, to this place after having visited the nearby Giza Plateau. The shady, green retreat will make a great contrast to the hot, sunny, dusty Pyramids area.
Restaurant Andrea. 59-60, Maryutiya Canal. Giza.
Telephone: 238 31 133 and 38 254 441.
Prices: chicken between LE 10 to LE 15 ($2.60 to $3.90), chicken liver LE 12 ($3.10), Mezzes LE 2.50 each kind ($0.65). The restaurant also features a spacious indoor section including a large cellar bar.