Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Cairo is a gem of a restaurant in Maadi, the Creperie des Arts which serves a selection of French food along with a hefty portion of ever-elusive quiet.
The restaurant makes you forget that you’re in Cairo, and somehow manages to block out all sounds from the street. It serves its patrons to the subtle tunes of famous French ballads and equally famous French musicians such as Charles Aznavour. It also plays traditional folkloric music from Brittany, a French province on the north-western coast of the country, home to the galette, which is a kind of pancake, and the restaurant s speciality.
One of the things that I liked best upon entering this small restaurant, which is decked with old-fashioned wooden chairs and green checkered tablecloths, is its warm and home-like ambiance.
The walls are adorned with black and white photographs of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, as well as Jean Gabin and Gerard Philippe – actors known to any French national. But it doesn’t stop there.
The ceilings are covered in US dollar bills, French Euros, and British and Egyptian pounds, to name just a few.
And true to the character and identity of Brittany (la Bretagne in French), sailing and marine life paraphernalia are to be found all around. Little sailboat models rest on shelves along with antique marine clocks and the black-and-white striped flag of Brittany.
In addition, Creperie des Arts looks like Brittany’s signature symbol: the stereotypical little cottage with square windows, bright blue shutters, on which hang yellow and red flowers. From the outside the restaurant looks like a little cottage tucked away within the typically long and narrow building of Cairo. Even the place mats feature that picturesque cottage.
Being from Brittany myself, I can say with full confidence that it is authentic in appearance as well as in its menu.
If you love pancakes or are familiar with French crepes, then Creperie des Arts is perfect for you. Galettes Sarasin, a traditional Brittany recipe, is like crepe but a little heartier in substance. Made out of buckwheat flour and served warm, you can have it with different fillings including ham and gruyere (and yes, they have real ham). The Nathalie is filled with goat cheese, green salad, and walnuts, and the Popeye with spinach, béchamel sauce and eggs.
I chose the Complete (ham, gruyere, and egg sunny side up) for LE15, while my family tried the Provencale (bell peppers, onions and gruyere) for LE 15.50. Though slightly on the dry side, the galettes were filled with just the right amount of each ingredient, the cheese having been perfectly melted and the assortment of vegetables lightly sautéed. They came with a side of sliced tomato and cucumber with light dressing that left you with the desire to try others.
But if galettes aren’t really your thing, there are a variety of other items to choose from. Toasted panini sandwiches as well as generously portioned salads are available, such as the Tango salad for LE 15.50 that is a balanced mix of tomato, cucumber, mushroom, corn, artichoke heart, boiled egg and green pepper. It left me satisfied but not stuffed, which is music to any woman’s ears. Paninis go for between LE 13-15 on average, with options that include cheese, roast beef, mozzarella, chicken, and olive oil.
For those of you who are a little more health conscious or just have small appetites, a selection of different vegetable soups are available for LE 8.50.
For the more robust eater, veal and beef steaks as well as breaded chicken and hamburgers are also available for between LE 40 and 50.
To satiate that sweet tooth, there are both simple and extravagant dessert crepes to savor, in addition to an assortment of ice cream flavors, among other traditional items.
Chocolate lovers will delight in the basic Nutella crepe (LE 11.50). My uncle noted that it had neither too little nor too much chocolate. My mother, on the other hand, went with the Revue, a titillating though not overwhelming melody of sliced pear, vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce (LE 16.90).
Take all of the above and wash it down with a nice, cold Orangina or sparkling water and you’ll be more than happy that you came. Between the three of us we devoured three galettes, two dessert crepes, and two two drinks each, with the bill amounting to only LE 135.
In addition to the inexpensive and delicious food, the service is fast and attentive, and the place is impeccably clean.
Creperie des Arts is the kind of place that is home to ‘regulars.’ If you go once, I’m betting you’ll probably go again. I’ve been there twice myself in the last month and see it as the kind of restaurant that will become a Friday afternoon tradition to help relax from tiring Thursday nights. It is an ideal place to go for dinner as a group of friends or with family, and because it is so quaint it is suitable for a romantic dinner.
If all of this is not enough, they have a wi-fi hotspot and delivery services to Maadi.
Creperie des Arts30 Misr Helwan Road, behind Maadi Sofitel HotelTel: 25260082s