The Smith: British Pop Culture Comes to Cairo at Quirky Heliopolis Cafe & Restaurant
3 Samir Mokhtar Street, Ard El Golf, Heliopolis
It can be argued that Cairo, or some of it, is a thriving city for all that is new – none more so than with the restaurant scene, which not continues to in satisfy many international cuisine cravings, but along the way, also continues to impress, with interesting concepts.
One such venue is the Smith; a restaurant and cafe which boasts a quirky British pop culture mood. Located near Cortigiano in Heliopolis, the Smith demands attention with its large lighted outdoor sign. As a venue, it's comprised of a small outdoor and a invitingly kitsch British-themed indoor area, which involves Union Jack-upholstered sofas, brown leather chairs and an overall vintage, retro atmosphere, with posters of old British films and even half a wall-hung Mini Cooper adding to the aesthetic. The space also boasts a bar, but one that serves only virgin cocktails
At first, we expected some staples of British cuisine, only to find that the Smith’s menu features typical international dishes that you’ll find in many restaurants, like grilled chicken platters, salads, sandwiches and pastas.
Perhaps the only British element in the menu is the dishes’ names, with items like Manchester Fillet (115LE) and London Veal (89LE).
Dipping into the starters, we went for Mozzarella sticks (31LE), and, for our mains, we picked the Liverpool Chicken (70LE), as well as the Bacon Cheeseburger (60LE).
With little to no crispy texture, the mozzarella sticks were actually round in shape and served with fry sauce (essentially ketchup and mayo) – not honey-mustard as promised in the menu. The mozzarella was deliciously molten, nonetheless and served to quieten down our stomach-rumblings.
Moving onto the main dishes, despite a soft and juicy centre, the Bacon Cheeseburger was essentially burnt from the outside, giving what was an otherwise solid combination of beef bacon and melted cheese in a soft bun, an unpleasant burnt taste.
The Liverpool Chicken proved to be better, but still short of perfect. Comprised of five medium-sized pieces of deep-fried and well-seasoned chicken breasts, the dish is served in freshly made and thick Provencal sauce – a combination of tomato sauce, garlic and onions – and sprinkled with mozzarella cheese. Even though the sauce gave the dish that extra kick in flavour, it also made parts of the chicken’s crispy exterior quite clammy. The dish was served with deliciously spiced fries and fluffy, perfectly-cooked rice.
Shortly after, we decided to satisfy our sweet tooth with a dessert from Britain's neighbours from across the English Channel, France: Crème Brulee (22LE). Though classic dessert's custard was smooth and creamy, the golden-coloured sugar layer atop it was neither as crispy nor as caramelised as it should have been, taking away the key element of the dessert.
We ended the meal with a cold and perfectly summer-friendly Caramel Frappuccino (29LE) which had a bold yet refreshing coffee flavour, and a kiwi-mango flavoured shisha (35LE) which perfectly mingled the separate flavours together and was promptly tended to.
The Smith’s spectacular interior and overall mood definitely stands out as one of the most unique in Cairo; but it was one that raised our expectations for the quality of dishes it serves and, unfortunately, these expectations weren’t met. As a cafe and restaurant, the Smith's menu is a little generic and, at the time of our visit, execution was well below par. Overall, a better place to hangout than to eat and drink.