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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Hubbly Bubbly: Maadi’s No-Frills Shisha Stop
While it’s hard to decide if the name is amusing or a turn-off, Hubby Bubbly is a straightforward kind of place, ideal for getting a sandwich or an order of chicken strips and fries and good shisha with coal service that makes the experience all the better.
The décor tries to be modern but ends up looking a little awkward, but the interior is dark so you’ll hardly notice. You won’t get the most expansive of food menus here, but there is a vast selection of teas. While the tobacco flavours are not plentiful, you’ll most likely find the good old favourites. Overall the food, shisha and service are worth the visit and not overpriced.
Hubbly Bubbly’s selling point is its sheer, no-hassle convenience. Definitely not ideal for a long meal, the best option is to enjoy a cup of delicate tea or a cantaloupe shisha without having to order anything substantial. Unfortunately, there is no open-air option, so there’s a chance of you suffocating from all the shisha smoke. While this kind of place may seem unremarkable outside of Maadi, most of the good shisha places in the area are fully-fledged restaurants, thereby making one feel forced to stay the duration of a full meal. Hubby Bubbly is by no means glamorous, but it is convenient and reliable for those looking for a no-frills stop.
Cafés in Cairo are a dime a dozen, and competition is pretty brutal. That usually translates into some rather strange themes and gimmicks across the capital. In Mohandiseen, Bon Bini follows suit with a kitschy jazz vibe.
With two floors and an outdoor seating area, the café is spacious with a peculiar variety of seating areas,making the whole place interestingly asymmetrical. Although the furniture seems dated and worn, the running jazz theme creates a charming, nostalgic feel. Jazz band statues and antique books give a purposefully vintage edge to the venue.
The polite and courteous staff are well versed in the menu. Akin to the typical Cairene café scene, the menu is awash with a wide variety of sandwiches, pizzas and entrees, along with a shisha section.
For appetisers, we ordered tomato soup (17.95LE) and a fried Texas platter (18.95LE) – fries with chilli cheese sauce. For our mains we ordered one Verona pizza (49.95LE) topped with chicken, roast beef slices, olives, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, alongside a chef filet (74.95LE) which transpired to be a beef strip stuffed with mushrooms and roast beef, topped with a butter sauce.
First on our table came the extraordinarily hot soup and fries; so hot in fact, that we had to let both dishes cool off for a few minutes. Served with crispy croutons and a thick dollop of cream, the generously-sized soup was full of flavour. Despite being topped with a thick layer of cheese, the fries were well-cooked and surprisingly light.
Later, both the pizza and filet proved to be even better. The pizza was large enough to satisfy two, and boasted a thick, fluffy base. The fillet was cooked to perfection, without sacrificing the meat’s tenderness, and laced with a rich, flavourful butter sauce. The sides of fresh vegetables and smooth mashed potatoes were a welcome addition to the meal.
For dessert, we enjoyed a cold fruit crepe (19.95LE), made with apples and bananas and topped with Nutella. Unlike the conventional serving of crepes, our crepe was laid flat – as opposed to folded - topped with the fresh, ripe ingredients.
Although the quirky decor and unusual ambience may not suit everyone’s taste, Bon Bini is a great venue for casual outings – and the kitchen certainly delivers.