Until recently, if you were looking for a quality baguette in Cairo, you were substantially out of luck. While you could find many imposters that looked and felt somewhat like a baguette, chances are once you actually tasted them you’d be substantially disappointed.
Cairo’s come a long way since then, and today a seemingly endless supply of bakeries claim to serve up Cairo’s best bread. Faced with such choice, Cairo’s bread consumers need a resource to rank and rate the plethora of bakeries on offer, to cut through the publicity in order to determine Cairo’s best bread.
Below, we present, in reverse order, Cairo’s best baguettes. In order to come up with this list, Al-Masry Al-Youm’s crack team of bread investigators traveled the city in search of the finest bread. We’ve looked high and low, but if you’d like to add to, or contest, any entries on this list, we welcome your feedback.
#5: Postres Flamenco Bakery
At the bottom of the list is the Flamenco Hotel bakery in Zamalek. A Cairo institution, Flamenco is a bakery and café with a nice interior and friendly staff. The selection is limited in terms of traditional loaves, but they have an interesting selection of buns and bread rolls. While some of their offerings carry a bit of promise, including a decent multigrain loaf, the baguette unfortunately rates poorly. A brittle crust, too light on the inside, Flamenco has a long way to go. Rating: 3/10.
While Fino has much going for it, the baguette is not its specialty. If this was an article about brown or cereal loaves, it would have rated much higher. Fino was one of the first efforts to upgrade Cairo’s bread offerings, and today the place is in need of a bit of a makeover. The bread is displayed in tired racks behind the counter. The baguette crust looks promising, but the inside is insubstantial. Quality baguettes will stay fresh for at least an afternoon, and can be revived the next morning in the toaster. Fino baguettes looked tired and crunchy by the time you bring them home. However, don’t entirely despair of this place; the oatmeal and cereal loaves carry considerable promise. Rating: 4/10.
Next on the list is the newest of Cairo’s bakeries. TBS has a real bakery feel about it, pleasant interior with friendly and helpful staff. Serving a wide range of breads, muffins donuts and croissants, TBS’s baguette is the first on our list to qualify as a real baguette. Its crust doesn’t crunch quite as we’d like, and the inside is a bit dry, but it’s otherwise perfectly respectable. It’s fresh baked in front of you, and has attracted quite a following among Zamalek bread aficionados. Some of the other breads on offer are compelling; the corn loaf is good, if a bit salty, the croissants are tasty. Rating: 6/10.
Cairo’s most recent bakery, actually a bakery masquerading as a cheese store, is Maadi’s Fromagerie. Serving imported cheeses, Fromagerie also imports pre-made bread dough, which then rises and is cooked in ovens on premises. The results are excellent. Many of their breads are superb, and their baguette very nearly qualified as Cairo’s best. Crusty yet pliant on the outside, deep and textured on the inside, Fromagerie’s baguette is a delight, a hearty accompaniment to any of the cheeses also on offer. Rating: 8/10.
#1: La Gourmandise
This leaves the podium for Cairo’s best baguette open to Gourmandise, the bakery and coffee shop in the atrium of the First Mall, next to the Four Seasons in Giza. Don’t be intimidated by the over-the-top feel of Gourmandise’s clientele; ignore the society diners, and head straight to the counter where it’s all about the bread. Favored by the nearby French embassy–the French after all know a thing or two about quality baguettes–Gourmandise’s breads are a cut above the rest. The old fashioned and olive loaves are our favorite, but the baguette is also superb. Weighty and substantial inside, textured and wholesome in its crust, Gourmandise’s baguette is almost everything a baguette should be. Rating: 9/10.
So, there you have it, Cairo’s best baguettes, comprehensively and objectively rated. Does this mean that you can’t get a better baguette in Cairo? Well, not necessarily. The home-baked bread at Zamalek’s Trattoria restaurant gives Gourmandise a run for its money. However, until you can buy it for takeaway, we’re proud to announce Gourmandise as Cairo’s best baguette.
* Gourmandise: baguette 8LE, olive loaf 17LE; First Mall complex, Ground floor, 35 Sharia al-Giza, Giza; Tel: 3569 2557; open daily 10am-11pm.
* Fromagerie: baguette 11LE, other loaves up to 20LE; 9, 231 St., Degla, Maadi, across from the Italian delicatessen. Tel: 19796. Delivery in Maadi only. Open daily from 9am to 10pm.
* TBS: baguette 5.50LE; corn loaf 14LE; 4D El Gezirah Street, Beside Fauchon, Zamalek, Tel: 2736 0071; open daily 6am to midnight.
* Fino: baguette 8 LE, oatmeal loaf 19LE; 12 Hassan Sabry St. Zamalek, Cairo; other locations around town. Tel. 2735 8067; open daily 6am to 11pm.
* Postres Flamenco Bakery: baguette 5LE, multigrain loaf 22LE; 2 El Gezira El Wosta, Zamalek; Tel. 2735 0815; open daily 7am to 11pm.