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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.
Sometimes, when shops expand, attain numerous branches and become household names, they end up forgoing a few of their standards and their service levels take a deep plunge. With this one, however, we found the opposite to be in fact the case, with the service being better than ever.
Located around the fountain area in Cairo Festival City Mall, Chili’s offers both adequate outdoor and indoor seating. With the rather chilly weather (ha!), we opted for indoor seating, and our waiter immediately guided us to an impeccably set table in the non-smoking section, as requested. Carrying the traditional jazzed up American diner trademark look,nothing in this branch of Chili’s particularly stands out as different.
From the sinful Texas Cheese Fries (52.99 LE) to the Boneless Buffalo Wings (59.99 LE), the appetisers sounded as good as always. The restaurant also offers a few soup and salad options, like the Quesadilla Explosion (55.99 LE), that are anything but bland-sounding. Moving on to the even more dense main course options, we were not disappointed; from sandwiches to steaks to burgers to pastas to chicken dishes, the Americanized Tex-Mex options were endless.
Our Tostada Chips (36.99 LE) were crisp, hot, and fresh and laying before our eyes just 5 minutes after we had ordered them. Needless to say, we demolished them in a few minutes and our waiter, being as efficient as they come, immediately refilled them for us without having been asked to with a fresh batch. Our main courses arrived just a few minutes later and Chili’s continued to impress us with how tasty and neat everything was.
The Classic Bacon Burger (59.99 LE) was everything a good burger needs to be; the buns tasted fresh and fluffy, the patty was well seasoned and bursting with flavour and the toppings added the right finishing touches to an already perfect burger. The French fries are also worthy of a mention as they were not at all greasy or over or under salted. Imagine a sizzling mountain of well-marinated chicken strips drenched in Jack cheese and topped with mushrooms and bacon bits and you’ll have The Mushroom Jack fajita (79.99 LE), which we totally devoured to the last bite.
The overall amazing service did not end here, but persisted throughout our whole visit with the manager stopping by to make sure all’s well and our check arriving two minutes after we asked for it.
All in all, Chili’s truly surprised us with the level of quality it has managed to retain throughout the years. Our food arrived on time and was delicious and our waiter was as swift as can be; what more can we ask for?