Sign in using your account with
Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Picasso: Enticing Spanish Restaurant in Heliopolis
The menu offered promising Spanish and international dishes. Big fans of authentic Spanish cuisine ourselves, we opted to do it the traditional way and started off with tapas.
We tried the regular sized empanadillas (13.50LE) which consisted of four pieces of pastry filled with eggs, tuna, red pepper and onions. Although the pastry itself was good, they were scantily filled and rather dull in taste.
We also gave the Andalucía (17.50LE) a go; a small bowl of delicious chicken liver in cherry sauce with cooked tomatoes and green pepper. The chicken was perfectly tender and the sauce wasn’t too sweet as to overwhelm – it was by far, our favourite dish. The tapas came with complimentary toasted bread which was perfect for dipping into the Andalucía.
While deciding on the rest of the food, we marvelled at the flamboyant copycat Picasso paintings hanging on the walls. Despite the cliché, we wished there had been some flamenco or salsa music to set an ambiance rather than the banal western music videos playing on the flat screen TVs.
For the main dishes, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the seafood paella (53.50LE) and the Spanish saffron chicken (49.50LE). The paella came as a concoction of rice, mussels, shrimp, red and yellow sweet pepper, peas, beans and freshly cut tomatoes. It wasn’t truly up to par with our expectations; it was lacking in seasoning, which could’ve given the dish the extra oomph that it needed.
The saffron chicken wasn't that much more impressive; it was absolutely bland and an utter disappointment. The dish was supposed to consist of chicken in cream sauce with garlic, basil, rosemary and saffron, but none of that came through when we tried the dish. It came with a serving of white rice and sautéed vegetables which, truth be told, were cooked well but not enough to salvage the chicken.
Finally, we ordered churros and chocolate cake (17.50LE each) for dessert. Six individual churros were accompanied by a warm chocolate sauce with hotplate underneath to keep the sauce malleable and warm. The churros were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside but the chocolate was a bit too sweet in our opinion.
As for the chocolate cake; it was soft, big and topped with an equally warm and equally sweet chocolate sauce which wasn’t bereft of taste, but it wasn’t the most striking either.
Despite the failings in the food, Picasso offers some decent dishes at a reasonable prices. The staff were friendly as well as a speedy, and the generous portions would leave diners feeling stuffed. We paid 208LE in total and concluded that some culinary adjustments might have made the experience a bit more worthwhile.
When it comes to what you might consider high-end in the worlds of dining and nightlife in Cairo, there’s little to speak of outside of the city’s hotels. While a select few places have managed to capture the essence over the years, many have gone on to close or, worse yet, gone downhill – fates that are hard to imagine will befell Dos Cañas.
Located at Garden City’s Cairo Capital Club, the entrance to the building isn’t all that inviting, but once you step out of the elevator, things take a turn for the sophisticated. There’s an effortless class to Dos Cañas that is owed largely to the fact that things are kept simple. Save for the giant calligraphy-infused playing card hung on the wall at one end of the bar, the general aesthetic of Dos Cañas is subtle, paving the way for the stunning Nile view to take centre stage. Said view is best enjoyed from the restaurant-come-bar’s higher tables, though for groups of more than four, lower, bigger seating set-ups are also available. View aside, there are small but noticeable touches that will keep the eye engaged, the most striking of which comes in the form of an antiquated door in a detached wall that stands almost as a centrepiece.
We wasted no time in trying the restaurant’s sangria pitchers – two of them in fact. With red apple, grapes, orange and cherries, the Red Sangria (270LE) packs a boozy punch and, despite, its ingredients, isn’t too sweet, while the Rose Sangria (250LE) certainly is, thanks to the strawberries, peaches and, most deliciously, blood orange, inside it. Dos Cañas also offers a small but tight selection of classic cocktails, including Bloody Mary, Cosmopolitan, Tom Collins and Amaretto Sour (all 90LE), as well Mojitos (90LE) and Martinis (100LE) amongst others, while Heineken on tap is offered in small (30LE) and large(45LE) glasses, and Sakara, Stella and Heineken bottles are 38LE, 37LE and 40LE respectively.
The conciseness of the cocktail menu extends to the food; unlike so many Cairo restaurants, the items number less than 25. You can look at this as either a positive or a negative, though we would be inclined to side with the former – it’s a vague quality-over-quantity thing. What might strike you first is the seemingly random collection of dishes; Dos Cañas’ menu offers some Latin classics – think bocadillos, ceviche, patatas bravas, et al – as well as dishes that belong in other cuisines including Greek salad, Prawn Biryani and Chicken Tikka salad. The second thing that will strike you is the wide scope of prices; the cheapest dish, the summer tomato salad, is a meagre 25LE, while the menus most expensive dish sits at a steep 91LE – though it is a Seafood Frito Misto. If you can look past the prices, it’s an overall interesting selection and, at the time of our visit, we had little to complain about when it came to the food. The Prawn Biryani (85LE) as full of seasoning and spices, the Beef Bocadillos (63LE) – essentially sandwiches – a might not have been 100% authentic, but were delicious nonetheless, thanks largely to the outstanding shallot jam and aioli. We also tried the Chicken Brochetas (57LE) – grilled meat skewers in layman’s terms – which were cooked perfectly.
While there’s plenty to shout about when it comes to Dos Cañas’ food, the prices are made all the more hard to swallow when considering how small the portions are – but it positions Dos Cañas as a taperia, rather than a restaurant. If you’re looking for a full-blown meal, you can certainly leave satisfied, but Dos Cañas is enjoyed best as an easy-hangout that has no equal in Cairo.