Walking down Arab Street you could easily miss the restaurant. The signs look a bit dated, the food photography isn’t super clean… it looks like any other budget middle eastern eatery. The front of the restaurant on the Arab Street side has maybe 4 or 5 tables tops and looks deserted.
If you’re in the know (thankfully our friends clued us in and we’re passing the info on to you) you walk through the restaurant’s main floor to the back alley. Around back there are some stairs leading up to the kitchy upstairs aircon room. There are more tables here… a great combination of mismatched chairs and tables with yellow walls gives the restaurant an appropriately low-key and open feel.
The menu is expansive for the size of the shop, covering many regions and cuisines. The food is a mix of Turkish, Egyptian, and other countries from the region so if you’re looking for 100% from a certain region specific dining you probably won’t find it here.
Both times we’ve eaten at Cafe Le Caire (and probably every time again for the foreseeable future) we’ve started with the Mezza Platter. For a ridiculously low (for the value of food) 15 SGD you get an assortment of 7 different starters – Hummus, Olives and Pickles, Tahini, Babaganoush, Tomato and Cucumber Salad, Eggplant and Yoghurt (Surprisingly more yummy than expected), and a Cucumber Yogurt…all served with the requisite pita bread for dipping. As a quick side note, if it’s just two people dining you might consider splitting a main after ordering this as it’s a lot of food, these aren’t delicate portions.
For the main I decided to branch out a bit and ordered the Bamia. According to Joanna the Bamia she’s accustomed to is an Okra stew, the Bamia here was a Lamb and Okra Stew served with a choice of rice or lamb (9 SGD). It was hearty and flavorful. As I was eating it I wished the weather would somehow drop about 60 degrees and I could finish the bowl near a fire or wrapped in a blanket – it was a classic soul warming dish
As great as the food is, I have to mention the service. I’ll give them this, we went on a Sunday at 3, so probably not high volume time… but as we were sat we were told it’d be at least 5 minutes before anyone returned to us (it was 10). It took 30 minutes to get our water and 40 minutes for the Mezze (which was served without utensils). If you’re prepared for this level of service the food is an excellent value, but don’t show up on the edge of hunger like we did This was a bit odd to us as Cafe Le Caire doesn’t charge service, so you think the staff would have some extra motivation to provide quick service…
Cafe Le Caire runs a Saturday and Sunday “High Tea Special” starting from 3 pm and only 15SGD. The Sunday special wasn’t anything to write home about, but the Saturday one seemed decent with a nice assortment of skewers, kibbeh, stuffed bread, etc.
All in all it’s a great value eatery, with slightly less than stellar location and service. Despite those two setbacks Cafe Le Caire will probably still become a regular eatery for us, but maybe we don’t head there quite as much as we’d like. It’s also a great area for guests from out of town. It’s a bit more “local” than Orchard Road and there are some unique boutiques and shopping in the area.
Cafe Le Caire
39 Arab Street