Unobtrusively sitting in the basement of the spruced up Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers is Darts Pub; a small taste of London. The dark wood panelling, dim lighting and large saloon bar take you back in time, whilst the Victorian-style, leather-button, tufted sofas and armchairs create a cosy, homely atmosphere.
Being named after the traditional pub game, there is of course a couple of dart boards hanging on the walls; the one to play on sits at the back of a small wooden and glass cubicle amongst the tables and chairs – the sides stop any injuries occurring from fly-away darts.
The seating area isn’t overly spacious, but it wasn’t overly cramped, or busy either. We sat at one of the dark wood tables and listened to some smooth, English, easy-listening tracks before eagerly picking up one of the menus already waiting for us on the table.
We were pleased to see that the menu is vast, boasting a mixture of traditional English and Egyptian dishes. The Egyptian side of things includes hot and cold mezzas, shish tawouk (110LE), chicken shawerma sandwiches (70LE), stuffed vine leaves with lamb chops (190LE) and Oriental delights (120LE), which is a concoction of fried veal liver and brains with tehina. The non-Egyptian dishes include avocado salad (65LE), burgers (80LE-85LE), fish and chips (95LE) and a surf and turf platter (290LE).
Darts also cater for vegetarians and celiacs with their vegan and vegetarian, diet and diabetic, gluten free and macrobiotic, dishes.
Keeping up with the British drinking culture, an abundance of both local and imported alcohols are on offer. Aperitifs, vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, cognac and other liqueurs are available as well as beer, alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, fruit juices and sodas.
To ensure a healthy mix of culture in our meal, we ordered one ‘Egyptian Princess’ cocktail – a blend of almond amaretto, vodka, raspberry puree and apple juice (95LE) – and a non-alcoholic mix of fresh guava, apple juice and vanilla syrup: the ‘Pyramid Dream’ (45LE). For food we ordered a traditional English shepherd’s pie (130LE) and a char-grilled beef cheese burger (85LE).
The ‘Egyptian Princess’ cocktail was sweet and delicious with a slight vodka kick, despite the ameretto being overpowered and the promised raspberry puree nowhere in sight. The ‘Pyramid Dream’ was even sweeter; fresh, thick and refreshing.
A small bowls of nuts, tomato bread sticks and salty pretzels kept us nibbling whilst we waited for our food, which took a while. Old English pubs are known for their generous, wholesome meals and when the food did arrive, Darts presented no exception.
The burger was considerably large and juicy, served in a lightly toasted sesame seed bun. The mild cheddar cheese was melted onto the burger which, in turn, was doused in and dripping with sauce. Fresh pickles, golden, delicious french fries and coleslaw were served on the side – the creamy coleslaw didn’t taste fresh and the cabbage was rather soggy.
The shepherd’s pie was served in a giant bowl, with a thick layer of melted cheese and smooth, buttery mashed potato on top. The beef mince was swimming in a rich, tomato and gravy sauce, but sadly, not much else. Although it was tasty, we almost requested a spoon as the pie turned into a soup, and a rather boring one at that.
Overall, though, Darts does a good job of bringing together English and Egyptian cultures together in one comfortable, traditional pub setting, serving good food and even better cocktails.