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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.
Known for its greenery and quiet, Maadi is host to a number of restaurants and cafes offering breakfast options for fans of the sunny outdoors. Among these is Akasya; a restaurant that takes up the space that was once occupied by Euro Deli on Road 232.
Retaining much of the same décor and outdoor area that made Euro Deli so popular, breakfast was in order.
Visiting early in the morning makes the August sun more bearable, and the staff are noticeably more attentive when there are less people there.
We took our seats garden-side, and dove into a menu that’s comprised of a number of breakfast options including crepes, omelettes, bagels and sandwiches. They also offer pizza, pasta and chicken, beef and shrimp main courses if you’d rather come by for lunch or dinner.
We opted for Cheese Sambousak (20LE) from the appetisers, Spinach with Cheese Crepe (34LE) and a Roast Beef with Cheddar Baguette (26LE).
Serving time can be rather long, though this time around, we’d say it was average. Given that the restaurant wasn’t crowded, and our orders were fairly simple to make, they should’ve been served faster.
Eventually, four pieces of Cheese Sambousak arrived on a bed of lettuce at our table; the dough was nice and crunchy, but the cheese was rather bland and was in dire need of some kind of seasoning.
The Spinach and Cheese Crepe arrived next; essentially a blob of cheese and oozing with spinach and cream cheese – and not in the good way. The ratio of filling to crepe was extremely off, you could hardly taste any crepe through the ridiculous amount of cheese and the sheer amount of oil spilling out.
We hoped the Roast Beef sandwich could salvage the breakfast, but we were wrong. The decently-sized, toasted baguette contained lettuce, mayo, melted cheddar cheese and thick slices of roast beef. While we certainly appreciate the use of real roast beef and not the processed and packaged supermarket kind, it had no flavour whatsoever. The sandwich tasted like cheese, mayo, stale lettuce and a large, very chewy object resembling meat but tasting nothing like it thanks, once again, to a severe lack of seasoning.
While the food was disappointing, the cheque was pretty inexpensive and the atmosphere was great. Akasya’s outdoor area is perfect for people who work on the go or like to have business meetings outside the office, but maybe try the omelettes instead?