Egypt Independent

Disturbing menu



Academics have long known that too much choice can be a bad thing. If you walk into a supermarket and see just a few boxes of cereal on the shelf, you will easily make your selection and walk out a happy customer. 
 
On the other hand, if you ever have the great misfortune to encounter Carrefour-esque abundance, where you are forced to choose from a plethora of options with minor variations in taste, price or texture, your brain suddenly shuts down, unable to make sense of it all, and you walk out dazed, confused and overwhelmed, without having made that critical purchase of cereal. 
 
The same theory can be applied almost everywhere in life. Go to a cinema with just two films showing? Turns out one is just what you wanted to see. Try to choose a movie to watch off of Itunes? After a half hour of browsing you’ll be wracked by indecision, and none will seem quite right. 
 
I faced a similar quandary when trying to figure out where to eat at the recently developed Karma mall in Sheikh Zayed. Three solid looking dining options are arrayed within crawling distance of one another around a central courtyard and fountain: Mélange, N Lounge, and Café Mo. 
 
As you’d expect, we were tormented by indecision, and trundled into each one checking out the menu and décor. All had a wide selection of mostly international cuisine; all had funky looking modern interiors. Finally finding some reason to choose one over the others (Mélange actually had other customers on a recent hot summer’s afternoon; the other two were empty), we headed for Mélange. 
 
Mélange has a funky modern interior, with the well-worn beige and brown theme very popular among Cairo’s modern design folks these days, with some big comfy chairs for lounging, and other more upright chairs for formal dining. The ultimate source of annoying elevator music, Yanni, with his dramatically long-haired new-age orchestra, disturbingly played on the large flat screen TV on the wall, that I must guiltily admit I quite enjoyed watching. 
 
The menu is by turn disturbing and comforting: comforting as I love not having to actually read a menu, I can simply choose from the pretty pictures that fill the menu’s pages; disturbing as any menu this large (dozens of pages of pastas, pizzas, appetizers, soups, grilled meats, sandwiches… you get the picture) must imply a serious juggling act going on in some overstretched kitchen somewhere. 
 
Our concerns proved mostly unfounded as the food that emerged was solid across the board. We started with a Mont Blanc salad that somehow pulled off a combination of shrimp, chicken, salad, eggplant and hot sauce tastily and coherently. A steak sandwich was solid but boring, hurt in large part by the underwhelming and excessively airy bread that enclosed it. A dish of chicken in coconut sauce, served with succulent carrots and green beans, was delicious and satisfying. Needy kids back home forced us to exit before we could get into the multiple pages of desert options (including a chocolate fondue for two…), but we did manage an excellent scoop of Movenpick ice cream on the way out. 
 
Mélange’s staff is friendly and efficient. The food is tasty and affordable. On another side of the restaurant is a café with a bakery, cakes, and ice cream. One of the great challenges for 6th of October up to now has been the arrival of residences before that of decent food options. With Mélange, and its solid looking neighbors along side it in the Karma mall, the area has come some way to addressing this concern. 
 
Details: Mélange, El Karma Mall; Sheikh Zayed, 2nd Entrance; 3851 0408/9. Open 9am-1am every day. Will begin delivery service soon.