Eish + Malh: Come for the Ice Cream, Skip the Main Course

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In picking this week’s restaurant to review, we decided to go with Eish + Malh to find out what all the fuss is about. While it has existed for some time now, we thought that we would put the place to the test. We met on Adly Street in downtown Cairo and were welcomed with a red door leading to a place packed to the brim.

The architecture of the place allows for a sense of freedom to settle in; the spaciousness and high ceilings make it possible for one to breathe in a place that had so many people in it. As we took our seats and were handed our menus, we found a lot of interesting dishes that used seemingly mouthwatering combinations of flavors. We studied the menu for about 10 minutes before each coming to a decision.

The excited and very hospitable waiter approached our table; he made recommendations and read the order back to us for reassurance. However, when he disappeared for 45 minutes, we ushered him in our direction to ask about the status of our food, to which he responded with the same politeness: “You will have it in under five minutes, you have my word.” 10 minutes later, our food started making an appearance.

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The salads were the first thing to appear in our one-hour wait; the goat cheese rucola salad and the grilled halloumi salad. The goat cheese salad consistent of arugula, goat cheese, walnuts and gooseberries; although all the ingredients seemed appealing at first, it did not taste as impressive as its description in the menu. The most distinctive taste was the arugula, which we all enjoyed, but we could not help but feel disappointed in the absence of other flavours. The grilled halloumi salad came with arugula as well, in addition to roasted tomatoes, string beans, and hemp seeds. While it was significantly better than the goat cheese salad, it was still missing something. For one thing, the halloumi had gotten cold and became rubbery and the seasoning was once again too plain.

Nevertheless, we persevered and decided that the main courses will vindicate this kitchen and our taste buds would be compensated. As our waiter approached the table once again, several dishes in his hands glistened in the light. First, he placed down the Risotto Ai Funghi, a homemade risotto with fresh mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Unfortunately, it had a doughy texture that made it seem undercooked. Perhaps we came on a day where the seasoning was scarce, because it tasted as bland as the salads.

Following the risotto was the Pollo Arrosto, which is half a chicken “golden roasted” and topped with fresh rosemary. At this point we had made the decision that while the atmosphere of the place was generally great and communal and the service was equally good, the food left something to be desired. As a guitarist set up his equipment to begin entertaining the restaurant’s patrons, we continued eating our food.

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As the guitarist began playing, our waiter put down the Quattro Formaggi Pizza we ordered. Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon serenaded the pizza, which was perhaps the best main course out of the three; not because it was an exquisite dish, rather because of the mediocrity of the other two dishes.

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Finally, before getting the check, we ordered the Gooseberry Ice Cream and were pleasantly surprised with its natural taste. It was exquisite; the right texture, fluffy yet creamy, with little chunks of gooseberries within it. Despite ending the evening on a positive note, as we walked out of Eish + Malh with our cups of ice cream, we wondered if we would ever come back.

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