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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.
There’s something about these quintessential family restaurants in Cairo. It might be the wholesome meals or a sense of nostalgia from hundreds of Fridays spent eating together. Cortigiano is one of those. It's come a long way since we visited their original branch in Dokki, so we decided to stop by one of the other branches in Maadi.
Located on the quiet Road 7, Cortigiano takes up a cozy spot that you can identify from the red brick and plant pots exterior. Inside, the décor is different shades of brown and beige, with all the seating options looking quite comfortable.
A friendly waiter showed us to our table, handed us our menus and retreated for a bottle of water.
We opted for the surprisingly pricey Shrimp Cocktail (76.95LE) from the appetisers and a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad (36.95LE). For our mains, the Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper (93.50LE) caught our eyes, as did the Pollo Alla Griglia (61.95LE)
Serving time isn’t as fast as you’d hope, unfortunately. It's not that the service wasn bad - it just slow. When the Shrimp Cocktail arrived, we were quite disappointed; rubbery shrimp, that tasted quite bland, with a slightly metallic-tasting cocktail sauce.
The salad came next, featuring the regular iceberg lettuce, grilled chicken strips, and Caesar dressing. The dressing was thin, diluted and ultimately quite weak in taste, and there were minimal croutons.
The Beef Tenderloin was a pleasant surprise, but we’re unsure if that’s because the starters set the bar so low. Served with the traditional two sides of sautéed vegetables and fluffy white rice, the Beef Tenderloin, albeit not being the greatest quality meat, was cooked to the requested medium, and the sauce pleasingly subtle.
The Pollo Alla Griglia is a barbecued chicken breast marinated with lemon, herbs, oil, garlic and thyme, and served with two sides. While again, the chicken wasn’t incredible - the marination didn't leave the kind of mark that the potency of its ingredients would have you believe - it was cooked nicely and the dish was extremely filling.
Practically all the items on the menu were huge in portion, but the prices aren’t as affordable as they used to be. In fact, they’ve almost doubled since our 2010 review. But while some of the food is hit and miss, the pleasant atmosphere and all around comfortable feeling you have at Cortigiano seems to keep people coming back.