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6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt.
Hash Coffee Company: Café By Day, Restaurant By Night in Cairo's Mall of Arabia
We sat outside in something like an English pub-garden terrace with wooden decking and furniture, plants and TV screens. Inside they’d plumed for a vaguely 60s look, with comfy chairs and sofas, or bar stools to sit at; seeing as in the daytime Hash functions as a coffee lounge. Patrons who choose to eat inside have the added pleasure of being able to watch the chefs prepare their food at the back of the restaurant.
London is not best known for its culinary excellence so we weren’t surprised to find that the menu struggled to keep up with the London theme. Big Ben and a beaming Beefeater were on the front cover, but inside the menu we can only assume they were attempting to reflect London’s multiculturalism. The appetisers included Thai and Mexican dishes but we opted for the English pub favourite, onion rings (15LE), which turned out to be plenty to share amongst friends.
We were offered a good selection of burgers and pasta dishes, which included meat and seafood options, plus a few vegetarian meals. The England motif came to the fore on the ‘English Grilled Steak’ page of the menu, although quite what was English about them was unclear, as the beef, we were proudly told, was Australian.
Apparently, Londoners are huge cheese fanatics, as a great many of the meals were described as ‘cheesy’ - shrimp and steaks included. In a delightful addition to the menu, Hash had a selection of British favourites, including a jazzed up version of the humble hot pot. For 69.99LE you can satisfy your English cravings with a chicken and cheese hotpot-pie, or try good old fashioned fish and chips (59.99LE).
We tucked into a Swiss mushroom bacon burger (44.99LE), and southern chicken and beef fajitas (69.99LE). Again, the portions were huge; the burger was more of a truckers challenge than an afternoon snack and the fajitas were bursting with plenty of meat, garnish and salad. To the credit of Australia’s finest, the beef was good in both dishes and the chicken strips for the fajitas were tender and well cooked.
The burger was the beef, cheese, mushroom, bacon tower we expected, and together with chips and a small salad, it made for a hearty meal. The fajitas came in their composite parts ready to be constructed into a meal, but the pile upon pile of relish and salad complicated matters. We received the meat in a sizzling steel pan atop mixed peppers and roasted vegetables.
The restaurant offers free soft drink refills, which were well received, but their latte proved to be not much more than steamed milk. All the waiters were very keen to please and the shisha we had was well attended, if a little bland itself.
London, it is not, but for a few English treats, Hash doesn’t do a bad job of trying to mix up the standard menu usually found at these places. If we find ourselves suddenly overcome with desire for a hotpot, we know where to head.
Recently, we’ve been going checking in on some of the longer running Cairo restaurants to see how 'things' have been going. Our most recent endeavour took us to Dishes in Maadi.
The relatively small venue in Degla, set up in the side area of a large building, boasts a typical comfortable outdoor area plus shisha and big screens combo, targeting mostly a younger demographic, particularly football fans. The semi-circle couches with the bright orange cushions, combined with the dark wood of the tables and grey plastic chairs reflect all the colours Dishes use in their long and creates a nice colour scheme throughout the venue.
They have an all-around menu that has options for breakfast through to dinner, including soups and salads and a large number of cold and warm drinks. Nothing exceptionally creative, however, just a lot of options.
We walked in and found some seats, a few moments later a waiter greeted us at the table and gave us menus. After some browsing we opted for a Magic Chicken Milanes (51LE) and a Chicken Tandoori (46LE). Main courses come with either a side of pasta with red or white sauce, or two sides of the regular sides like sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes.
The food was relatively late which we found a little disappointing considering the restaurant was empty.
The Chicken Tandoori was quite tasty, with large chunks of tender chicken floating in a creamy, slightly spicy, curry. We had ordered a side of rice and sautéed vegetables. Both were very disappointing. The rice was overcooked and tasted cheap, while the sautéed vegetables were bland and slightly crunchy.
The Chicken Milanes was similarly disappointing. The chicken tasted stale and the seasoning was off, while the side of spaghetti with red sauce tasted virtually no different to pasta made at home with packaged sauce and not fresh tomatoes.
The all-around experience wasn’t very good. While the outdoor setting is decent, the slow service combined with very average food fails to impress. Perhaps a good spot of a cold drink with a shisha, but you should probably skip the food.