Joan's restaurant is upstairs
Joan's is one of several restaurants in El Roda Street (opposite the Lotus Hotel, not far from the Nile Palace. Joan's is on an upper floor, on the left side of the road as you enter El Roda Street from the main hotel road.
Immediate impressions are good, with fresh decor, well spaced tables and a cozy sitting area where drinks and snacks can be taken on sofas.
When we first visited, soon after Joan's opened in the autumn of 2006, our experience went downhill after the good first impressions. We reported, with examples, that the service was pleasant and attentive but not particularly effective and that the food was extremely disappointing.
Comfy sofa and spacious dining area
We have returned at intervals to see if things improved with experience but merely found different examples of bad practice and poor meals. In the meantime the restaurant has had a few changes of management. Joan is no longer involved and another English lady who took over is no longer involved either. Although it retains the original name, Joan's is now Egyptian run.
We had high hopes when we made a further visit in October 2009. The new management were reported to be making a real effort and striving for excellence. The furniture had been rearranged slightly since our previous visit but is still well spaced, comfortable and still includes sofas for that homely, relaxing coffee. The good news ends there.
There seemed to be several people involved, coming and going from the restaurant and entering and emerging from the kitchen, two of whom waited on our table at different times. They were both dressed in street casuals. The second spoke good English; the first appeared to speak no English at all. Not a problem in a local restaurant - this is Egypt, not England, after all - but the restaurant still has an English-sounding name, advertises English meals and is presumably targeting the English tourist market, so reasonable 'restaurant English' might be expected by their guests. The language problem clearly caused difficulty. Our order for a pineapple juice and fresh orange returned an apple juice and artificial orange. When we pointed this out the waiter said sorry, but there was no replacement.
Prices are in the mid-range. Soups are from LE12. A range of other starters are from LE15 (Oriental salad) to LE35 (Prawn Cocktail) and international main courses are mostly in the LE35 - LE54 region: a steak with sauce is LE52. Egyptian main course prices are lower: beef tagine is LE38. Desserts are LE14 - LE20. Drink prices are reasonable. There are 2 'happy hours' each evening when beer is from LE12, wine is LE20 per glass and all soft drinks are LE7.
Our light snack arrived 42 minutes after placing the order. Was the delay because the restaurant was busy? No. We were the only ones there throughout. Worth waiting for? Absolutely not. The bread was stale to the point of being solid. We returned it but no replacement was offered. The chips were coated in a black spotty residue, presumably from a previous frying; the pasta was wet and the meat was insipid. Overall the impression was that the restaurant was run, at the time we were there, by a group of friends or associates, who are no doubt trying very hard, but who did seem to be rather amateur.
The management may be striving for excellence, but they have an awful long way to go. The comfortable surroundings and happy hours may make a visit worthwhile for a drink: if they are able to get your order right. However, if it is food you want, with Snobs, Castello, Casablanca, Lantern and Deans in the same road, we have said it before but we say again: we can't think of a single reason to go to Joan's.
Review updated May 2011
Prices at May 2011