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Jambalaya, serving Spanish food in Zamalek

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A new Spanish restaurant proves to be too homey to be authentic

The restaurant has a homey décor, which fits in with the offered cuisine and feel of the place (Thoraia Abou Bakr)

The restaurant has a homey décor, which fits in with the offered cuisine and feel of the place
(Thoraia Abou Bakr)

Earlier this month a new Spanish restaurant aptly named Jambalaya opened up in Zamalek to join the wide array of restaurants and cafes on the tiny island. Many people gave it rave reviews and we thought we would go check it out.

We were informed that we would need a reservation and that is just what we did. It was quite strange to have to reserve when the restaurant is still quite new. In addition, having to reserve in advance implied a notion of sophistication especially that you can go to most restaurants nowadays without needing one.

The place is tucked away on Ahmed Heshmat Street, and as we entered we realized it was quite small. The interior décor is more homey than sophisticated; making it seem like having entered the apartment of a Spaniard.  The tables and chairs are made of wood and are not very comfortable. The manager and waiters were quite friendly as they received us.

We decided to embrace the Spanish notion of sharing and ordered all dishes with that intention. For appetisers we got the stuffed peppers with Halloumi cheese, the chorizo Hummus and the potato salad with mayonnaise sauce. For the main dish, we opted for their signature dish Jambalaya, which is paella with chicken and sausages.

They were quick to serve us and soon we were delving into the appetisers. They also served us some colourful bread and homemade olive paste as a pre-appetizer, which was quite tasty.  When we set eyes on the appetisers, we were rather disappointed because of the small portions. Given that each dish sets you back EGP26, it did not seem right.

The hummus was the tastiest of the three dishes as it was spiced with herbs like dill, but the chorizo tasted more like oriental sausages than the Spanish equivalent.  The combination of red peppers with Halloumi proved successful, but the dish only had one pepper and a half on it, and only half was stuffed. The other pepper was halved and the halloumi was just placed on top. The most disappointing dish was definitely the potato salad. The potatoes seemed stale and overly dry and the mayonnaise sauce was very eggish. Neither I nor my companion could eat it. It tasted just horrible.

The main dish was tasty and the portion was all right. We especially liked the presentation of the dish, which was served with lemon wedges. The lemon juice with the rice and chicken proved to be scrumptious; however, the dish was more like a risotto than paella.

Overall, the experience was not that great, and we felt like all those dishes could be easily recreated at home. It did not feel like authentic Spanish cooking and it was really overpriced in comparison with the portions.


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