By Juergen Stryjak
It may not be easy to locate this restaurant. In fact, for some patrons, finding the Flux may be the real challenge. But I consider this as part of the package, part of the game and not a problem at all. After all, which would you prefer? A popular place, which is everybodys darling, jam-packed with upper-class high-school kids, tourists returning from a day trip to the Pyramids and your colleagues from the office, with whom you have more than enough contact in the daytime? Or would you prefer to find a hidden gourmet oasis, the secret haven of a sophisticated crowd? The Flux seems rather to be the latter one, although design, food quality and the reasonable prices will make it, sooner rather than later, a very popular place. I am sure and afraid - of this.
The owners dont advertise. Instead, they trust in word of mouth, which means, that they trust in their own capabilities of running an interesting restaurant, too. Samantha Dogmetchi, a British expatriate living for seven years in Cairo, has showcased her talents by managing the LAubergine, the El Gato Negro Club and the Cairo Jazz Club. Her partner, Salah Maklad, an Australian with Egyptian roots, has managed and owned several restaurants before on the kangaroos continent.
When I entered the Flux for the first time, I was accompanied by a Texan. The first thing he said was: "It looks very European!" I dont know if he really means European or rather what Americans expect as being European, but suddenly I remembered a lot of new stylish bars, restaurants and cafs, which opened in the city centre of Berlin, my hometown, during the last decade. As different as they are, they have some things in common: the desire to mix several cultural and ethnic styles, a very individual touch and a daring surprise for the senses without being too crazy or too extravagant.
The Flux in general is very Egyptian, but nowhere in a way as one would expect it being Egyptian. "True to our name, we wanted to be able to flip things around a little," says Samantha Dogmetchi. So, as I was sitting there, I looked around and found a lot of things to be discovered. Sheeshs or typical Arab shutters, hang from the ceiling, while the walls display paintings by Egyptian artists. The menu choices reveal a selection of Egyptian food, as well as other items, prepared in a fresh and exciting manner that combines the ethnic touches of many regions.
As always, I am keen to explore new restaurants in Cairo, in search of a special style, a personal vision as reflected by the owners creativity, and I was not disappointed at the Flux. But my true aim in going there was to sample the Molokhiyya on Rabbit Risotto, a delicacy of which I had heard. I am addicted to Molokhiyya, and although I am used to having the typical Egyptian version, I truly enjoyed the Fluxs cosmopolitan version. My dining adventure started with a nearly perfect bean soup as an appetizer. Suspiciously, my friend tried a rib-eye steak, which passed his Texas taste test easily, judging by the satisfied look on his face.
The bar offers a wide range of alcoholic drinks. The elegant music, jazz, pop, or hip hop, fits the dark ambience, the waiters are attentive, and if you have enough money left to buy a unique souvenir, just purchase one of the contemporary Egyptian paintings from the wall. The Flux owners want to change their exhibition monthly, anyway, in cooperation with a well-known downtown art gallery.
Flux. 2 Gameat El-Nasr Street. Mohandiseen. Cairo. Near to the Shooting Club, some hundred meters away from El-Sawra Square (El-Thawra Square). Telephone: 33 86 601. Prices: starters between LE 6 and LE 28 (US-$ 1.50 to $ 7), main dishes between LE 20 and LE 40 ($ 5 to $ 10). Egyptian wine around LE 60 per bottle ($ 15), the cheapest Egyptian beer LE 11 ($ 2.