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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.
Forming an international cuisine menu can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, restaurants have more freedom to showcase their creativity and variety, but on the other hand, even when the restaurant aspires to offer variety, the real devil becomes in the consistency of execution. The Food Republic (TFR), a corner restaurant located in Cairo Festival City’s restaurant area, unfortunately falls into that category.
Comprised of outdoor and indoor dining areas, TFR boasts a blend of modern classic style with wooden chairs, beige buttoned sofas, photos of diners hung on wooden walls and simple light bulbs dangling from the ceiling with ropes. The indoor area has glass windows which gives a panoramic view of the mall.
We started our meal with the TFR Arancini (35 LE) as an appetiser, followed by the interestingly named The Caveman Burger (85 LE), as well as Grilled Chicken with Rosemary Sauce (72 LE) and Chicken Cordon Bleu (75 LE).
Arriving twenty minutes later, the TFR Arancini were three deep fried rice croquettes mixed with mozzarella, parmesan cheese and mushrooms, accompanied with a small bowl of sweet chili sauce.
Crunchy on the outside, mushy and soft on the inside with rice as its main component and mixture of cheese, the arancini had a delightful taste complimented by the sweet chilli sauce, but there was no mushroom flavour.
Coming in a glass cutting board with a side of potato wedges, the Caveman Burger is one of the biggest burgers we’ve seen in a long time and completely stole the show with its enticing double-patty and overall presentation.
Infused with chilli tomato jam, romesco sauce – nut and pepper-based sauce – along with onions, pickles, mozzarella, emmental cheese and sweet chilli sauce, it seemed that all the ingredients of the burger were wrestling for supremacy. While the burger itself had a pleasant homemade taste, the tomato-based ingredients gave an overall tangy and sour taste which overpowered all other flavours.
The wedges, on the other hand, were a little too salty, but had a great overall taste with the paprika seasoning, a great crunchy exterior and a lovely softer interior.
Served in wooden trays, with sautéed vegetables and white rice, the grilled chicken was bland it taste and was barely improved with the rosemary sauce it came with. The sautéed vegetables side needed some more seasoning and flavour, while the white rice had red kidney beans which didn’t work with the rest of the dish.
Arriving as a huge cylindrical-shaped pill cut in half, the Chicken Cordon Bleu had a brown breaded crust and was stuffed with crispy beef bacon. The chicken had a well-seasoned overall taste, with a welcome hint of garlic and, while the bacon gave an extra punch, the brown crust didn’t hold itself and started crumbling as soon as we sliced into it. The dish came with crunchy potatoes wedges covered with cheese – as requested— and some mashed potatoes which were lumpy and had an unusual egg flavour.
We wrapped things up with Chocolate Bomb (49LE); one of the Food Republic’s signature dessert. A big chocolate ball containing a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, a small cube of brownie, surrounded by kiwi and drizzled with melting hot chocolate sauce, the dessert was more of a show than it was a dessert. Though the chocolate itself had a sweet taste which was complimented by the kiwis’ sourness, the ice cream quickly melted from the hot chocolate sauce and the brownie was hard to cut into.
Our experience at the Food Republic was rather underwhelming. On the one hand, some of the items like the arancini balls and the burger showed potential, but on the other hand, most of the items were not properly executed and the staff were distracted by the Al Ahly and AS Roma’s football match – which we forgive them for, this time only.