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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Clay House: Where Food and Fun Mingle
The spaciousness of the place offers a range of seating options: from indoor couches, an upstairs that hosts games and crafts as well as a garden where a myriad of tiny white lights are hung, giving it a festive feel.
While the concept of Clay House is good, the execution is a little awkward and the service is somewhat slow. Despite its oddities the best bit about this venue is the unique activities offered, from play station for gaming enthusiasts to pottery activities meant to get your creative juices flowing; this is more than just your average Maadi shisha café and really shakes up the usual routine.
It’s also one of the few Maadi spots that hasn’t implemented the Mobinil internet cards and offers free Wi-Fi, an increasing rarity these days. If clay time or gaming does not appeal, you can browse the web or watch TV on one of the many screens.
The downside is that all this “fun” attracts a teen crowd, while the clay makes the restaurant smell somewhat cave-like. The clayish odour mixing with admittedly mediocre shisha does not contribute much to the ambiance. One can escape to the outdoor seating or embrace it and be upstairs in the thick of all the activities.
The menu is the standard fare with a few oriental mezza offerings, seafood and Italian dishes. The prices are very reasonable with a low minimum of 35LE on weekdays and 50LE on the weekend. The misspelled dishes are what catch your eye—mistakes are as plentiful as the options. Despite the over-use of “Clay House special pasta” this or “pizza” that, a title that does not make it all too tempting, the food is good but not excellent. The pizza has a thin crust but the tomato sauce was nowhere to be seen, but still as a white pizza it was quite good. The chicken was well cooked and the desserts and juices tasted fresh.
While Clay House is no hotspot, it provides a new kind of outing and you can take social time to a whole new level by coming away with some handmade pottery or having played a game or two.
In spite of the fact that we encountered tremendous difficulty tracking down the exact location of Kiro's Lounge, it was worth every last ounce of our energy. Located on Yousef Abbas Street in Nasr City, the restaurant features an all-encompassing menu with cuisine from Rome, Mexico, Paris and even Beirut.
When we first entered the restaurant, we were very sceptical; the smell of shisha was suffocating, and when we asked the maitre d' for a non-smoking table, he shook his head in faux apology and said there weren't any available tables.
After we were finally seated, we found leftover cigarette butts in our ashtray and that caused us to grimace even further. The orange and beige fabric of the seats was stained and the waiters’ clothes were smudged with what appeared to be food remains; so we hoped the kitchen was better taken care of.
The menu at Kiro’s Lounge is divided according to the cuisine's country of origin, which was a nuisance to go through as each section had appetisers, main dishes and desserts of its own. There is also a separate bottle-shaped menu for beverages. We ordered fresh guava juice (13.99LE), which was pleasant yet mundane, and left less room for our food.
After we placed our orders, two dishes of fajitas were served to neighbouring tables. The scent that followed was mouth-watering, and made us look forward to and regret our choice of orders at the same time.
From the Mexican section of the menu, we ordered crispy chicken strips (25.99LE) served with honey mustard dip. The strips were a bit flavourless, but the crispy outer layer was delicious. Although we expected the appetiser to arrive before the main dishes, it didn't.
After strenuous thought, we finally settled on spicy Mexican chicken (50.99LE), which wasn't as spicy as we would have liked it to be, but it was delightfully delicious nonetheless. The chicken was cooked with kidney beans, shredded red and green pepper and sweet corn. Also off the Mexican menu, we ordered Mexican chicken tomato (51.99LE), which had almost no tomato; but tasted amazing. You can order two sides of sautéed vegetables, rice, French fries and mashed potato or one side of pasta.
The restaurant had several LCD screens for karaoke nights, but you need to call beforehand and make a reservation.As for desserts, Kiro's Lounge has something to satisfy everybody. The French section of the menu has crêpes (21.99LE) and chocolate cake (20.99LE), while the Lebanese section boasts more local desserts like om ali (18.99LE) and fruit salad (11.99LE).