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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.
There’s nothing this reviewer likes better than a good steak; unfortunately, few Cairo restaurants deliver. Call it primal if you will, but when it comes to pure satisfaction from a dish, little can match up to a medium-rare cut.
Having landed in Citystars just last year, Ponderosa Steak House is one of those restaurants that takes meat very seriously. The restaurant itself is franchised from the US; many will remember it as the steakhouse right next to Disney World in Orlando.
Located on the fourth floor of phase two, the restaurant boasts a light wooden décor with bright lighting. The wooden panels cover the walls and are matched by the chairs and tables.
As we stepped inside, we were greeted by a pleasant waiter who showed us to a vacant table, placed menus on it and disappeared to find a bottle of water.
The menu, like many American diners in Cairo, features a wide selection of mains and appetisers, covering beef, chicken and seafood. We opted for a Fried Shrimp (45LE) appetiser alongside Chicken Wings (40LE) for our starters.
For our mains, we opted for the 280g Sirloin steak (110LE) as well as the Seafood Platter (130LE). Serving time was generally decent and the ambiance of the restaurant kept the loud and crowded at bay.
Our appetisers arrived with an array of sauces including tartar, marinara and ranch. Both the chicken wings and the shrimp were fried very well and drained of excess oil, retaining a very decent crunch. We favoured the chicken wings, though, as we found them to be more flavoursome.
The mains arrived shortly after. Our Sirloin was ordered medium-rare alongside sides of baked potato and green beans. The steak was served it just how we ordered it, retaining a great level of juiciness and natural flavour. The baked potato, topped with butter and a little cheese, was creamy and delicious while the seasoned green beans were similarly simple but delicious.
The Seafood platter, featuring salmon, fried and grilled shrimp with the same baked potato side and brown rice, will definitely get you full. The 150g salmon steak was seasoned with lemon, dill and butter and cooked to perfection. While the fried shrimp was just like the appetiser, the grilled shrimp soaked up more of the zesty flavour and was by far the superior of the two.
While the prices at Ponderosa may seem relatively steep, it is certainly reflected in the quality of food. With pleasant staff and more than pleasing food, Ponderosa’s only downfall may be being located inside such an insufferably busy mall.