I’m not done with posting on Paris, but it’s time for something Egyptian (I’ll get back to our beloved French capital shortly). I met up with friends last week at the hip and trendy Cairo hot-spot Sequoia. It was the last night in town for one of our group and since none of us had been to the outdoor lounge/restaurant in a long time, we figured it was a good place for a send-off.
Located at the end of Abou el Feda just next to its sister restaurant Left Bank, Sequoia is on the northern tip of Zamalek and affords fantastic views of the Nile. The discotheques and mosques of Imbaba lie to the West, the Nile Towers are on the East and the train to Alexandria chugs along to the North. The mood is set from the moment you walk in and every time you take a minute to appreciate your surroundings, you’re reminded of the diversity and magnitude of this bustling, heaving and historic city.
With a contemporary and elegant design, the wooden floors, clapboard shutters, billowing canopies, white couches and low light create an intimate ambiance that smacks of exclusivity. Sequoia – whether you go for lunch or for dinner – winds up being a stylish place to while away your time with countless other people who are “in the know.”
The restaurant has a wide range of Intolerant-friendly options and they offer good food alongside consistently agreeable service (note: not an easy feat in Cairo). There’s shisha for those who like to indulge and the menu consists of Mediterranean fusion with a host of mezze, grilled meat/fish, pasta, pizzas, desserts and sushi options.
Admittedly, when I hit up Sequoia I forgo the mains (which I’ve had issues with in the past) and lean towards the hot and cold mezze, which are constantly good, or I’ll settle on sushi and enjoy a bowl of miso and some sashimi.
The dessert list is extensive though not really for the Intolerants as almost everything has dairy, gluten and/or a whack load of sugar (the fruit platter is an exception and it’s quite nice). Regardless, Sequoia offers beautifully concocted confections that are lovely to look at and incite great feedback if you’re lucky enough to indulge. I mean what part of macaroon, vanilla crème brûlée, lemon/orange tartelette, Café Liegeois or red fruit mille-feuille with chocolate sounds bad?
Absolutely no part, that’s what.
The drink menu consists of fresh juices, quality coffees and alcohol, though premium fare is marked up a good 50-80% (for real) so it’s best to stick with local beers – Stella and Sakara, good simple lagers – and hard alcohol. Word to the wise: there are some things that Egypt does extremely well, but wine isn’t one of them.
While it’s not the most expensive place in the city, the price tag at Sequoia is a bit steep. A cover charge kicks in after 18:00 – 150 LE (weekends) and 125 LE (weekdays) – so you have to ensure you eat/drink/smoke 150 LE (roughly 25 USD) worth during your time there. The thing is, Sequoia isn’t really about the food in the end. It’s a place to pop into every so often and experience a side of Cairo you don’t see elsewhere.
Sure, go for the mezze and a side of dessert, but also go for the view. Go for the surroundings. Go to be part of Cairo’s “It” crowd. Go for a cocktail. Go for two or three in fact. Go to let the frustrations of the day (traffic, harassment, pollution, etc.) melt away. Go to get an eyeful of fast cars, tailored pants, afternoon blowouts and heels as high as the Cairo Tower.
Go because Sequoia is a place to see and be seen.