Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hard Rock Cafe, Cairo

Hard Rock Cafe Cairo
Grand Hyatt Cairo
Corniche El Nile, Garden City
Cairo, Egypt
+2(02) 5321277/81/85

Sun - Sat 12:00PM - 4:00AM
Sun - Sat 11:00AM - 4:00AM

It started with an Eric Clapton guitar (a Fender Lead II, for the gearheads in the audience). The beginning of something that nobody even knew was beginning.

It was just a goof. A laugh. A joke among friends.

Back in the seventies, Clapton - the original guitar god, founder of Cream and Derek & the Dominoes, creator of the immortal "Layla" - liked to eat at this quirky American diner in London called the Hard Rock Cafe. The place was this funky old building that used to be a Rolls Royce dealership, and it was run by a couple of young Americans who liked to keep it loose. Founded by Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton, two enterprising and music-loving Americans, Hard Rock Cafe was an instant classic. You could be yourself at the Hard Rock. It was good food and a good time.

So Clapton got to be friends with the proprietors and asked them to save him a regular table, put up a brass plaque or something. And the young proprietors said, “Why don't we put up your guitar?” They all had a chuckle, and he handed over a guitar, and they slapped it on the wall.

No one thought much more about it. Until a week later, when another guitar arrived (a Gibson Les Paul, by the way). With it was a note from Pete Townshend of The Who which read: "Mine's as good as his. Love, Pete."

The young proprietors put it on the wall. After that, the guitars never stopped coming. Today there are more than 70,000 guitars, drums, pianos, harmonicas, microphones, shirts, pants, scarves, shoes, handwritten lyrics, cars, bikes, a bus and assorted rock memorabilia - by far, the largest, most valuable such collection in the world - on the walls of over 138 Hard Rock Cafes, Hotels and Casinos in 42 countries around the world.

But it all started with the one.

And about 30 years later, the Hard Rock Cafe opened its doors in Cairo.

With an extremely large seating space, the HRC doubles as a restaurant during the day (with even a special day for little tots with face painters etc) and a club at night.

They boast one of the best selections of spirits in Cairo. And a large variety of cocktails mixed to perfection. My personal favorite is the Golden Rita (All margaritas are 70LE) Long Beach Ice Tea (59LE with cranberry juice instead of the cola in a Long Island Ice Tea - also 59LE) Rum Runner (46LE) Drinks like Cognac are 72LE a peg. Or you can keep the alcohol for a post meal experience by trying one of the Irish Coffees (57LE) with Irish Cream, Tia Maria, Irish Whiskey or Amaretto as the base.

On Fridays they have a special offer of unlimited beer & buffalo wings for 99LE.

The Jumbo Combo (59LE) is a great appetiser with a mix of Onion Rings, potato skins, Santa Fe Spring rolls (although I prefer The Southwestern egg rolls from Chilli's) Buffalo wings & chicken tenders with 4 different sauces. A little bit of everything for everyone on the table to taste.

I've had some great food here too. The pulled lamb sandwiches, Twisted mac (39LE), blackened chicken pasta (35LE) and burgers are all great. They more than fill you up as the portions are really large.

But its the deserts that are to die for. In particular - the Fudge Brownie Sundae (29LE) Its not only awesome, its completely VFM.

The Apple Cobbler (29LE) is also good, as are the cheesecakes.

Decor is the standard Hard Rock Cafe type with guitars, pictures and other rock memorabilia all over the place. What isn't standard is the gorgeous view of the Nile from the French Windows all around. By night or by day, the Nile is a very relaxing & calming sight. The feluccas during the day and the lights at night add much character to the scene.

Staff are friendly, responsive and speak fluent English (English speaking staff is a problem in some of the other restaurants/pubs in Cairo)

They have the standard Hard Rock gift shop with overpriced clothes & pins & glasses which you can shop at if you are a collector. Otherwise the same t-shirts are available in Khan el Khalili for 10LE :) LOL


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