Walking down a narrow, winding, stone cobbled pathway, past some graffiti on a rolling steel door, my dinner partner and I found ourselves a cozy table for two on the sidewalk right across from a shiny red fire hydrant.
We took our seat at the wooden bistro set underneath a wrought iron balcony with colorful flowerpots and blue awnings. The atmosphere was that of an outdoor, sidewalk bistro in a bustling Paris square, but we were actually sitting indoors at Avenue, Cairo’s newest steak and pasta house.
Located on one of Dokki’s crowded streets, Avenue stands out from its drab surroundings with the outer décor mimicking the same theme as the interior: Like stepping onto a movie set, the white concrete structure is well-lit with wrought iron windows, blue awnings and a grassy patch lining the red tiles leading to the entrance.
The menu is set on a stand so patrons can take a look at the offerings and the prices before entering through the commanding wooden door, which is opened by a smiling host dressed in a suit, ready to answer any questions.
The inside is dimly-lit, with lampposts dotting the makeshift sidewalks, but it’s clear that the sun shines through the large windowpanes during the day. Nighttime brings a more romantic feel, and to emphasize the effect of dining under a twinkling sky, the ceiling is painted a dark blue with soft, white patches of clouds, and star-shaped inset spotlights.
Groups of people streamed in and out of the busy restaurant, chattering away and creating a vibrant ambiance, augmented only by the clatter of the open kitchen.
There’s a fine line between efficient and intrusive service, and the wait staff at Avenue find just the right balance. We were given menus as soon as we sat down, followed by a basket of crispy bread.
We started the meal with a delicious creamy mushroom soup with bits of onions and celery (LE 15). The soup is skillfully created with chunky slices of mushrooms mixed with cream and butter. It’s a highly recommended starter, but plan ahead before you attempt to savor this flavorful, heavy soup to the last spoonful.
For a lighter beginning to your meal, choose the salad bar (LE 20), which features a basic assortment of fresh vegetables, tangy dressings and several variations of pasta salad. We got both the soup and salad, so we were quickly on our way to being stuffed before our appetizers arrived.
The fried mushrooms (LE 20) were the most mediocre part of the meal. While they are juicy on the inside with a crispy outer layer – just like the menu says – they were quite bland, only saved by dipping them in the accompanying zesty ranch dressing.
For the main course, I ordered the lasagna (LE 25): oven baked layers of green lasagna with bolognaise, white sauce and cheese. I love green lasagna, and complimenting it with these toppings was a novel experience. But it was drenched in the sauce, which eclipsed the taste of the tender pasta – sometimes less is more, and a little less sauce would do the dish more justice.
My friend got the fillet mignon (LE 48), served with a smooth gravy cheese sauce and a side of fresh grilled vegetables. I’m not a meat eater, but we shared both dishes so I had a try: the meat was tender, cooked to perfection.
Their selection includes the classic rib-eye and t-bone steaks as well as veal chops (each for LE 78). There’s also a choice of chicken and burger sandwiches
To our dismay, we did not have room for desert, but for those with a sweet tooth, there’s a choice of toffee tart, cheesecake and chocolate mousse. A must try is what Avenue calls the “Sugar Attack, a.k.a. their smooth crème brule. All deserts average LE 18.
Our eyes were much bigger than our stomachs, and we definitely ordered more than we should have; but we did it so this review could be as comprehensive as possible – for the good of our readers.
Surprisingly, the damage to our wallets was not nearly as bad as the detriment to our waistlines. Our bill totaled LE 160.
All in all, Avenue serves up tasty food, fresh ingredients, generous portions, a lively atmosphere and friendly service at reasonable prices – definitely worth several visits.
45 El Nour St., DokkiTel: 37498215