Casper & Gambini’s has been around in Cairo long enough to have established itself as a very successful restaurant chain that regularly delivers delicious food and speedy service. With the recent opening of its latest branch at Mall of Arabia in 6th of October City, it seems that the chain has a few kinks to smooth out before this branch lives up to its standards and our expectations.

Located across from Dalydress, Casper & Gambini’s interior is decorated in dark wooden browns and sky-blue, including dark flooring, brown leather seats and a blue counter with different, coloured syrup bottles arranged across the top shelf. Smoking and non-smoking sections are available, and the end of the room is flanked by cubic glass frames that let in the afternoon sun.

For a light lunch, we ordered the halloumi and vegetable salad (39LE), the tempura shrimp (21LE) and the slim-line chicken salad (38LE). The halloumi pieces were nicely grilled but far too salty; fortunately the grilled bell peppers tasted sweet and contrasted smoothly with the halloumi and its bedding of rocket. The tempura shrimp was also heavy on the salt, which made its accompanying soya sauce dip unbearably salty and had us wishing for a creamier, citron-based sauce instead.

We asked for the slim-line chicken salad to come with a French dressing minus the garlic due to a garlic allergy. Twenty minutes later, the waiter served us a side bowl of ranch dressing full of garlic, whereupon we explained the garlic allergy issue again. Ten minutes later, he brought us a bowl of French dressing specially made by the chef, which would have been appreciated had it arrived half an hour before with the salad.

For dessert, we continued the light meal with the non-fat frozen yogurt (27LE); a delicious healthy option that came with crunchy granola, a berry sauce and pieces of banana and peach.

As much as we like Casper & Gambini’s, we have to say that the service was disappointing. It took far too long for our orders to arrive, despite the abundance of staff and the moderately filled restaurant. Our order of Bombay chai ice tea came as peach ice tea, and when we asked for the correct order, the glass sat at our table for twenty minutes before it was picked up and delivered to another table instead. The fact that someone else got our order (even though it was untouched) had us wondering just how fresh the other items were.

This review may be a little harsh considering that we visited during the branch’s opening week, but Casper & Gambini’s has a reputation to uphold in terms of quality and service, and we sincerely hope that both will have improved on our next visit.