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6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt.
Casper & Gambini's: Another Memorable Branch in Mall of Arabia
Whether Casper & Gambini’s goes east or west, whether it opens a new branch or just a home delivery outlet, it never fails to attract us every time we come across it; somewhat like a magnet drawing us in. And this is not due to a lack of places to go to; we were sold from our very first visit to its City Stars branch.
Although Casper & Gambini’s Mall of Arabia branch was visited a while ago, our reviewer was unlucky and the experience wasn’t enjoyable, but since our visits are all about luck, we thought it was time we tried ours again.
Near to Entrance 2 of the mall, the restaurant has two seating areas; one outdoor area where there’s a water fountain, and another indoor section with its entrance on the side of the shops. Both parts are pleasant but if you’re a true appreciator of relaxation, then the outdoor area will more likely appeal to you.
To start we ordered the chicken Caesar salad (45LE). It was served to us in a big, deep bowl that seemed much like a sphere cut in half. The lettuce was fresh; the salad dressing in the perfect amount, where it wasn’t too much or too little; and the chicken was lovely and tender, however there could have been a bit more of it.
We also tried the chicken pesto pasta (56LE), our waiter warned us that the pesto sauce is green and therefore so will be the colour of our pasta, which caused us to hesitate for a moment, but in the end we decided to give it a try and we weren’t disappointed. The pasta was rich and tasty; the sauce was a little on the heavy side, which made us drink a lot of water after it, but the chicken was well cooked. The club sandwich (45LE) we also ordered was a typical club sandwich, but you are given the option whether to have both halves with the same fillings or different. The sandwich is served with French fries that come in a white cup with the restaurant’s logo on it.
After finishing eating we ordered a caramel latte (22LE), cappuccino (19LE) and lemon-mint iced drink (18LE). Overall the drinks were good but the one that stood out by far was the lemon-mint with its bright yellow and green colours swirled within the crushed ice. Although it was quite large, it was so enjoyable that we managed to finish it all.
A large bottle of water at Casper & Gambini’s is for 13LE, a small one for 8LE and a can of Pepsi for 10LE. Unlike our passed review, the service this time was fast and efficient; giving us the right amount of attention.
As of recently Casper & Gambini’s also offers ‘The Chocolate Bar’, that is a very tempting selection of Belgian truffles one can personally choose via The Giftery website.
Among the plethora of restaurants in Cairo that carry the 'international cuisine' label, few stray outside what has become a tried and tested formula. One such case is combining decent food of decent portions with a comfortable outdoor courtyard - maybe even add a flat screen and some shisha.
Of this school is Pomodorino; a villa-sized restaurant opposite Fuddruckers in Maadi. Past the wooden gate is a courtyard occupied by wooden tables with glass tops and orange cushioned chairs. The walls are lined with plant pots and there are a few fans as well for a hot summer’s day. Additionally, there’s an air conditioned indoor area as well.
We were greeted at the gate by a pleasant waiter who asked about our seating preference; the weather’s been good recently so we chose to sit outside. The waiter moved swiftly and placed menus on our table, told us his name and asked if we needed anything right away. When we asked for a minute, he gladly retreated.
We browsed the stereotypically extensive menu that featured all options from breakfast to desserts and drinks. We opted for a Venecian Salad (42.95LE) and a Pomodorino Beef Fillet (74.95LE).
During our wait we realised the venue was relatively quiet and populated by a mature crowd. If you’re not a fan of younger, louder venues, a breezy and quiet breakfast or lunch here should be right up your alley. We imagine it’s nothing like that during the screening of football matches, though, so keep that in mind.
Our food arrived within about thirty minutes. The Venecian Salad, which should feature grilled chicken, lettuce, pine nuts, raisins, avocado slices and 'orange sauce', in addition to garlic bread slice, was quite the let down. First, the ingredients sound delicious, but in the bowl none of the flavours mixed well. The pine was scarce, no raisins were seen, you could barely find avocadoes and, to our great disappointment, the orange sauce wasn’t orange the fruit but rather orange the colour - that being the colour of Thousand Island dressing.
The namesake main course, the Pomodorino Beef Fillet, was ordered medium. We prefer medium rare, but we use medium as a middle ground if we’re unsure if the chef knows what he’s doing. It was served well-done, of course. The fillet was floating in mushroom gravy which is probably why it retained a tenderness, though it was still far too chewy. The sides of French fries and sautéed vegetables were forgettable.
All in all, this kind of restaurant relies on its set-up and location more than its food to keep it afloat. While the food wasn’t terrible, it could certainly be better, but for many, it’s more about a nice place to hang out and have a snack and a shisha rather than a full meal.