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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.
Having been a staple for many of New Cairo’s residents for years, Breeze’s laid back summery feel paired with its overall ambiance of sophistication have helped make it quite a timeless venue. Overlooking the clubhouse’s pool at Katameya Heights, and boasting a calm air, the lounge almost gives visitors the feel of being anywhere but in the busy capital.
Upon arrival, our waiter led us to the table we had already reserved a day earlier, with menus already laid on it. With calmative lighting, and comfy bright coloured furnishing made up of cosy couches and low chairs, the venue immediately induced a feeling of relaxation.
Before delving into our menus, we went for a few shishas, ordering the Blueberry (36 LE), and Vanilla-Coconut (43LE) flavours. They arrived within a few minutes and were quite wispy and delightful, yet coal maintenance was only properly done when we constantly called on the waiter.
Breeze’s menu is, for the most part, inspired by Lebanese/Syrian cuisine and features some of its signature dishes including Tabouleh, Fattoush, Mesahab and Mutabel amongst others. For appetizers, we went for Labneh (27LE), Hummos Jabali (35LE), and Tomiya (25LE). As for our main dishes, we went for Shish Tawook with a side of French Fries (66LE), Arayes (50LE).
Our appetisers arrived within countable minutes, accompanied by two hefty bread baskets filled with freshly baked Baladi bread. The Labneh was creamy, topped with marinated olives and olive oil, while the Hummos was dense, topped with whole chickpeas and olive oil- both were heavenly. The Tomiya as also quite delicious and had just the right amount of garlic.
Arriving right by the time we were scrapping our appetizers clean, our main dishes were a whole other story of pure of scrumptiousness. The Shish Tawook, featuring well-marinated chicken pieces that were grilled to perfection, was bursting with flavour, and the fries were non-oily and crisp and came in an adequate serving. The Aarayes were, featuring grilled meat enveloped in thin pastry, were equal parts satiating and light.
All in all, Breeze has definitely managed to maintain its level of both quality food, and satisfying service. The waiters were always alert, and polite yet amicable and the food was well-presented and boasted freshness. Sure, the prices may be a bit steep, considering the 200 LE minimum charge, but the venue definitely delivered.