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Egyptian Restaurant Reviews - Cafe Riche


Volume I, Number 3 August 1st, 2000

Cafe Riche

by

Juergen Stryjak



It is a story like many stories in Egypt a never ending one. A story like the water of the Nile, flowing down the river continuously, constantly, slowly.

More than seven years ago, my best Egyptian friend Saad and I used to go regularly to a little coffeehouse in downtown Cairo. It was the street caf Sahret Soliman near the Talaat Harb Square. To reach this coffeehouse we had to travel through a little passage next to the famous Caf Riche.

During this time, the Caf Riche was closed because of renovation. It had been closed since the end of the late 80s, and whenever we passed it, my friend would comment that there is a rumor abroad, that the Caf Riche would re-open soon, very soon. He told me this rumor in 1994, 1995, 1996, and in fact whenever we had a look inside, we saw the renovation near completion or so we thought. We not only believed it, we were sure, that the new era of the Caf Riche will start soon. Then, some years later, I cant remember when, and moreover, I dont know why, my friend quit promising me the grand re-inauguration of the Caf Riche. Maybe he simply became annoyed at seeing the tables covered with clean and nice table clothes, as if a new set of guests would turn the corner at any moment to sit down, have a Stella beer and begin joking and laughing together. But nothing happened. The Caf Riche remained closed in 1997 and 1998, too.

The Cafe' Riche was once famous as an intellectual hotspot in Cairo. It is probably one of the only two cafs in town which not only witnessed history, no, it actually wrote history, too. The other one is the Al-Fishawi teahouse in the heart of the Khan Al-Khalili. The Caf Riche saw revolutionaries, artists, famous singers and actors, poets and painters, politicians and important businessmen. The famous Arabian diva Umm Kulthoum appeared on stage three nights in 1923 and the Nobel-prize winning author Naguib Mahfouz held his famous Friday literature gatherings here beginning in 1963.

When I returned to Cairo in August 1999, the first thing which captured my attention was a headline in a local newspaper: Caf Riche will reopen in September. I told this to my friend Saad, but he seemed to have lost interest, moreover, I had the feeling he would prefer to see the Caf Riche remain a legend, an unchanged and successful one, a legend forever without being questioned by reality.

Dont worry, the new one is like the old one, 100 percent, every millimeter, at least in decoration, furniture, food and even a former waiter works here again, Ahmed, who has served Naguib Mahfuz, shown in a photograph published in a newspaper from the year 1943. The owner, for example, was searching for more than three years all over Egypt for chairs which are exact replicas of the original chairs. The caf is separated into an outer cafeteria, a restaurant and a cellar bar downstairs. The food, both continental and Arabic, is very good, prepared by using authentic Caf Riche recipes. You can get salads for 4 LE, little meals for around 8 LE and main dishes for between 16 and 24 LE. The waiter, dressed in a wonderful blue baladi-style Galabiyya, will bring you beer for 8 LE, Egyptian wine for 50 LE per bottle and whiskey for 10 LE, as well as fresh juices (4 LE), cappucchino (5 LE) and the mineral water for 3 LE.

It is not so easy to find a nice place with atmosphere for having breakfast in Cairo, if you want to leave the hotel, but are not in the mood for Fuul and Tameyya. The Caf Riche is one! Only the cellar bar is unopened yet, although everything seems to be completely ready and prepared for a buzzing crowd of barflies. But dont hurry, we can wait another ten years. The wait seems to be worthwhile!

Caf Riche. 17, Talaat Harb Street, just off Talaat Harb Square, Downtown, Cairo. Telephone: +2-02-23929793. Daily 9:30 am 1:30 am

La Casetta

by Mariam Salama

La Casetta has been an old favorite with me for a long time, and immediately you can see why: service is prompt, the atmosphere relaxing and intimate, and the Italian specialties are mouth-watering. Their garlic bread is the best Ive had in Egypt.

Our dinner was a delicious penne pasta with a pink sauce for LE 19.95 and a vegetable penne pasta for LE 14.95. I could not resist the pizza so I took a magnum pizza at LE 18.95 and a Caesar salad for LE

6.95 which was topped with wonderfully tasty chicken pieces. I also had my favorite chicken cream soup for LE 6.95 and I completed the dinner with the Garlic Cheese LE 5.45.

I love La Casettas romantic glow, with the lights directly above your table, casting a pleasing light on your companions countenance and surely inspiring some pleasant flirtations, while waiting for the arrival of the food.

La Casetta is very busy on Thursday and Friday nights, when the young & trendy crowd of guys, girls and couples going out after college or school arrive. The restaurant is open from 1 PM to 1 AM but closed on Mondays.

Well, all went nicely until my husband got the bill. I had to cool the tension quickly with the food was delicious and service was friendly and quick speech. However, when we paid the check, they gave us 2 coupons worth 20 LE to come again and dine in La Casettas intimate, glowing atmosphere.

La Casetta addresses:


Heliopolis

32 Abdel Aziz Fahmy St +2-02-22401555 /+2-02-22494530

Another Heliopolis branch

139 El Marghani St.+2-02-22910219 /+2-02-22913995

Maadi

11 Road 18+2-02-23507279 /+2-02-23519076

Mohandiseen

32 Kambiz St.+2-02-33487970 /+2-02-33602488

Nasr city

13 Ismail El Kabani St.+2-02-22618151 /+2-02-22612373

Budget and Independent Travel to Egypt - Part II By Jimmy Dunn

Historical Hotels in Egypt - Part II By Jimmy Dunn

Recent Excavations in the Valley of the Kings by the Amarna Royal Tombs Project By Glen Parry

Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn

Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes

Book Reviews Various Editors

Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman

Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich

Hotel Reviews By Juergen Stryjak

Egyptian Exhibitions By deTraci Regula

Nightlife Various Editors

Restaurant Reviews Various Editors

Shopping Around By Juergen Stryjak

Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad

Medical Advice in Egypt By Omar Ragab.

Prior Issues

July 1st, 2000

June 1st, 2000

Last Updated: June 6th, 2011

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