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Thursday, 19 September 2019

Latino: More than ice cream in Glim

Away from the old colonial terrain but still very much Alexandrian: Latino, café& restaurant

Dina Ezzat , Monday 9 Sep 2019
Latino, café& restaurant
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It was in the early 1990s that the successful movie "Ice Cream fi Glim" was released. The film starred Amr Diab and Simone, both still upcoming artists.

The choice of film director Khairy Bishara to shoot the film in the east Alexandrian upper-middle class of Glim -- which carries the name of one of the city’s most prominent Greek citizens – gave attention to this particular part of the city which was never particularly house to any of the most celebrated Greek owned/managed tea rooms/restaurants that otherwise clustre at the heart of the city in Ramla.

Since the movie became a major success several sundae bars have opened. In the past few years it has had its generous share of the growing trend -- contested by environmentalists and conservationists as it might be -- for this Mediterranean city to have new coffee shops and restaurants built on platforms constructed near the beach.

Latino Café & Restaurant is one of those. It is part of a larger twin café court. And to judge by the early to late presence of keen clientele, it is one of the most popular of those cafés.

This is popularity well deserved. Latino -- which does not carry any semblance of Latin food or for that matter Latin music -- has a thorough menu that caters for all different types of tastes, except perhaps the strict vegan who would have limited choices or would need to ask for adjustments to certain dishes. It also has a wide variety of warm and cold drinks that are served throughout the 9am to 3am working hours, which are only reduced in the coldest days of winter, along with diverse flavours of Shisha.

A late summer or early autumn late morning is the perfect time for a get together in Latino. This is not just a time when the café has not yet become so busy but it is the best time for a fresh sea breeze. It is also the time when the waiters still have enough energy to guide the non-regular clients through what makes an inviting and delicious selection for an extended brunch.

A waiter made a first predictable recommendation: Armenian sausage (they call it Alexandrian sausage in Cairo) with tomato and fried eggs. It proved to be a very good recommendation -- good enough for another dish to be ordered.

Another good recommendation was the white and cheddar cheese sandwiches. It is as simple as it sounds. However, the cheese is so fresh and the sandwich is toasted to perfection with slices of fresh tomato and served with generous portions of home-made French fries.

Then there were the predictable choices of Latino’s oriental breakfast -- fava beans with tomato and tahina along with boiled eggs and a mixed salad; Latino’s healthy breakfast which is essentially cold cuts, cheese with golden sliced toast, cream scrambled eggs that are served with cherry tomatoes and grilled toast slices and the very obvious Alexandrian liver -- which is finely sliced veal liver fried with finely chopped onions and bell peppers. The latter dish prompted an extra order just like the Armenian sausage.

The food came after a round of cappuccinos -- including the regular cappuccino and the Nutella cappuccino that was surprisingly good.

The food was really good, and some dishes were exceptionally so. The ingredients were fresh, nothing was overcooked or too greasy.

The food came with a round of mint tea cups and was followed by Turkish coffee.

A group of eight hungry people who had barely had any breakfast were so content with their brunch. The group was lucky enough to take no interest in smoking Shisha. However, it was greedy enough to contemplate a few shared desserts: two really delicious pompanos -- a sort of a divertive of fruity cream caramel with a touch of semolina --  à la Latino, not the original recipe -- and two orders of fruit ice cream. Another round of tea was in order.

It took about three hours to get done with this lengthy eating and drinking process in a perfectly nice setting, very friendly and not at all unnecessarily imposing service and right by the sea.

Then the place was getting supremely crowded with large groups of visitors who spend their summer holiday in Alexandria and some Alexandrians who felt their city was starting to free itself of the holiday-makers so that they can retrieve their favourite places they had been deserting since mid-June.

“September is the time when we get back our regular Alexandrian customers; during the summer months from mid-June they tend not to come much, or at all,” said one of the waiters.

Time for the bill that came over EGP 2,000 and for a long walk across the Corniche.

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