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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.
We always get excited when a restaurant in Cairo announces the launch of a new menu – don’t judge. When that particular menu is all about steaks, then yeah, we’re sold. Chili’s recently introduced the ‘Chef’s Cut’ menu, and though the quality of steak at the restaurant chain has always been up for debate, wild horses couldn’t keep this steak-lover away.
A pleasant waiter opened the door and greeted us as we stepped into the Bandar Mall branch; we sat outside to enjoy the final traces of spring weather and avoid the annoying American diner pop music playlist.
After browsing the menu, we opted for Boneless Buffalo Wings (59.99LE), and from the Chef’s Cut menu, we opted for a medium-cooked South West Short Rib Fillet (124.99LE) and a medium cooked Glazed Shrimp Fillet (149.99LE). Additionally, we opted for an Apple Berry Cobbler (39.99LE) for dessert.
We were surprised by how quickly our appetisers were served; a generous portion of boneless wings drenched in spicy buffalo sauce and complemented by a heavy-on-the-blue-cheese ranch dip. Falvour-wise, the chicken was flavourful, but, unfortunately, just a tad too soggy causing it to lose the crunch it would normally have.
The steaks were the true highlight of our meal. The South West Short Rib Fillet consists of a fillet resting on a bed of corn salsa, topped with short rib meat and pickled onions, spinach queso and fresh cilantro. The meat was medium-cooked as requested and the combination of fillet and short rib meat was just beautifully sinful. The spinach queso was a fine addition, but quite heavy, while the side of skillet mashed potatoes was surprisingly flavourful.
The Glazed Shrimp Fillet consisted of a fillet on corn salsa, topped with glazed shrimp, spinach queso and fresh cilantro, and a side of skillet macaroni and cheese. The fillet was similarly cooked medium as requested. While a little less colourful in the flavour department than its counterpart, this was still a thoroughly enjoyable main course. The shrimp were delicious, but unfortunately, the macaroni and cheese involved way too much cream and far too little cheese leaving it closer to Alfredo sauce.
The Apple Berry Cobbler, made with baked apples and fresh blackberries topped with cinnamon-nut crumble, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sweet caramel sauce. The mixture of flavours was very interesting, as was the increased sweetness from the berries. Chili’s also serves an excellent vanilla ice cream, which really brought together the concoction and nicely rounded off the meal.
Frankly, our biggest piece of advice with Chili’s, especially this particular branch, is to avoid the weekends, the holidays and generally any sort of occasion that will involve family outings. They don’t seem to handle the pressure very well and it’s reflected in the food.