Just when you thought Zamalek’s evening scene was oversaturated with venues, a new munching, snacking, sipping, chatting spot has opened just south of 26th of July Street, behind the Marriott Hotel. Salon du The, also known as Ahwak, is a tea house that serves roz moamar (baked rice) and is decorated in British and Arabesque furniture. An identity crisis in itself, Salon du The has garnered curiosity and even a bit of a following, but there’s no guarantee it will last.
Although the place is usually packed, Salon du The does not, as of yet, require reservations. Despite a rather posh interior, the clientele so far ranges from laptop-toting college kids in hoodies to ladies who lunch. The service is friendly, although a little slow, and despite a rather detailed menu, you have to ask your waiter to find out what the “daily specials” are — a list of what is probably the restaurant’s best food offerings.
If you’re stopping for tea or coffee at Salon du The, you’re in luck. With your “High Tea” you get a large box of tea bags to choose from — caramel is simply divine — and a miniature platter of cookies and macaroons to nibble.
Most of the tables are small and flimsy, designed for a tea-and-cookie-based order. The restaurant’s biggest seating area consists of what can only be described as a home dining table, and this is where you can really enjoy the food! In proper “at home” (well, your grandmother’s home, perhaps) style, the placemats are plastic lace and the dishes have large pink roses on them.
If you arrive at Salon du The hungry and ask your waiter for the specials, do not be surprised to hear options that even Abou El Sid does not offer, including fatta with shawarma (a rice, bread and chicken or meat dish), roz moamar (baked rice with chicken or meat) and feteer meshaltet (deep dish baked dough) with molasses and halawa (sweetened sesame paste).
Having tasted all three of these dishes, I can vouch for their delectability, as well as the tastiness of the nut macaroons and the chocolate cake. Salon du The also makes ahwa arabi (Arabic coffee), consisting of boiled habahan (cardamom), but expect to wait at least 30 minutes, as it takes a long time to prepare. The menu also features dishes that seem much more suited to the surroundings, such as chicken parmesan and nicoise salad.
Expect to spend at least LE30–LE50 for tea and cookies and up to LE80–LE100 if you’re having dinner. Salon du The also offers shisha in a multitude of flavors.
Salon du The is located at 10 Zakareya Rizk Street, Zamalek, near the back parking lot of the Marriott Hotel.