If you would like to have a relaxing coffee during the Christmas weekend and you happen to be around Maadi, then Crave is the place to go for a laid back chat and a good selection of coffee.
Crave is one of the few places in Cairo that gets a triestino (espresso and white chocolate) right. The restaurant also offers a nice alcohol-free Caramel Irish latte and decaffeinated cappuccino.
In the early afternoon, the atmosphere is so pleasant that it calls for a second round of coffee, this time cold: an iced latte and two iced mochas with whipped cream and chocolate sauce topping.
Again, Crave is a place where the iced coffee is actually good – with quality coffee that does not make it taste like a confused milkshake, as is the case in many other places.
After two rounds of coffee that started at noon, the place starts to get crowded with the start of lunch time, with waiters bustling about with highly inviting dishes. It is easy to decide to stay for lunch.
A quick glimpse through the menu makes it hard to resist the idea of ordering a big feast.
“Stuffed mushrooms?” The question brings about a smile and a confirmation of “let’s get two orders”. Then, the idea of an aubergine gratin sounded equally hard to resist, and so was the idea of fried mozzarella.
The stuffed mushrooms proved to be worth the two orders – and the waiter was kind enough to gracefully serve an extra creamy blue cheese dip as the first two were thoroughly consumed before the beautiful golden brown balls of mushrooms and cream cheese were done.
The aubergine gratin and fried mozzarella were no less impressive.
“Heavy food and an afternoon of the last week of December go well together” was the consensus. The main course then came promptly after the waiter saw the very end of the truly delicious appetizers.
A breaded chicken breast filled with cheese and mushrooms and served on top of penne pasta with fresh tomato basil sauce proved to be a very convenient sequel to the rich starters.
It would, however, rate second to the chicken cordon rose, a breaded chicken breast staffed with smoked salmon and Emmental cheese, all topped with a creamy cheese sauce and served upon request with mashed potatoes rather the menu’s recommendation of rice and sautéed vegetables.
Also rating second – maybe second plus – to the chicken cordon rose was the Bonne Femme: a mix of seafood, mushrooms in bechamel sauce and mozzarella topping, served with rice and sautéed vegetables, upon the recommendation of the menu.
A good lunch is never done, no matter how full one might feel, without the dessert segment.
The waiter’s timid suggestion of “a dessert to share” is shrugged off unanimously. “Once one starts to indulge, one should not hesitate at the last minute,” was the decision.
A chocolate fondant with a scoop of ice cream on top, a selection of mini cheese cakes with different toppings and a tart of caramelized dates covered with ice cream land happily on the table, making the feast last to 4pm. Then it is time for the ultimate closing point of the meal: three double espressos made of really decent coffee.
By 5pm it is time to split the almost EGP 2,000 bill and to go for a stroll in Maadi’s pleasant streets.
Crave has several branches across the city, including in Zamalek, Sheikh Zayed, and Heliopolis.
It is not a recommended destination if in the company with friends who observe the Coptic Orthodox fast leading to Coptic Christmas, which is celebrated on 7 January. It is, however, a very interesting destination if one is considering a 25 December Christmas lunch.