Sea Salt Bakery & Café: A Glimmer of Hope for Egyptians With Celiac Disease

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Image from The Daily Crisp

Many outside of Zamalek believe that the island caters merely to the elite, that you could triple the price of any product and get away with it, no questions asked. Occasionally places like these will make up for their average culinary skills by providing an atmosphere in which one can escape from the stresses of everyday life. The Sea Salt Bakery & Café on El Mansour Mohamad Street in Zamalek is one of those places.

It is a self-proclaimed gluten free, lactose free and sugar free boutique café. Upon entering the place, the sound of contemporary classical piano could be heard playing on the speakers, and we are greeted by a well-groomed man behind the cash register. The man smirks and immediately must inform us that the place we just entered offers food options catered to the aforementioned dietary restrictions. While he did not use the words boutique café per se, we believed that the entire place screamed those words for him.

Image from Facebook

Upon skimming the menu, we began finding dishes that seemed very attractive: Beetroot Infused Basmati Rice with Mushroom, Toast with Date Walnut Spread and Kiwi, and the list went on and on. We made our tough choices as we stood in front of the cashier in the empty place as the piano notes echoed.

Sitting down, one is constantly haunted by a mirror half the length of one of the walls. The mirror caused us to feel unsettled and distracted, but that was only until our food began arriving.

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The first thing to emerge from the kitchen was a single piece of toast with beetroot hummus and avocado slices. The toast is of course, gluten, lactose and sugar free, and therefore has the texture of crumbs stuck together. The beetroot hummus while pretty and in lovely contrast with the color of the sliced avocados, did not taste bad, rather it tasted like nothing; only the flavor of avocado stood out.

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Closely following the toast were the sweet potato fries that we ordered. They were big chunks of flavorful sweet potatoes, placed neatly next to each other and complemented by a sauce that we could not really identify, but it seemed to be infused with peppers, tomatoes and some herbs.

After finishing the toast and fries, we awaited our main courses. We ordered two raviolis, one with vegan cheese and white sauce, and the other with spinach and red sauce. The problem with these dishes was not the taste; although a bit bland, they were actually pretty good. The white sauce ravioli with cheese in particular was the right amount of creamy and the texture of the ravioli was superb. What gave us pause, however, were the portions. While it was much more filling than it looked, the portions were significantly smaller than expected.

As we paid our tab and walked outside on the street, we felt a sense of confusion that persisted for a while. We were not sure what we had just experienced; was this a meal? Was it a snack? Whatever it was, did we enjoy it? These answers and many more we have yet to figure out. That being said, many people do suffer from serious dietary restrictions that make life difficult for them in terms of eating out. So if you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or suffer from celiac disease and you’re feeling a little bit hungry, then this boutique café is definitely for you. Do not try and go there starving in hopes of a filling meal because you won’t be satisfied. If, on the other hand, you do not have any dietary restrictions, perhaps you will want to try it for yourself and decide whether it’s worth the money or not.

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